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DECLARATION of The Club of Rome
Brussels, April 25, 1996


We, the members of the Club of Rome, are convinced that the future of humankind is not determined once and for all, and that it is possible to avoid present and foreseeable catastrophes—when they are the result of human selfishness or of mistakes made in managing world affairs. It is important to emphasize the signs of hope and the progress accomplished. We must also combat the threats to humankind, and be aware that these issues of survival are becoming ever more urgent.

The virtue of optimism that becomes rooted in the human spirit would appear to be an essential requirement of our times. We believe that, in order to counter the current trends towards either arrogant triumphalism or pessimism or resignation, we must adopt an attitude of confidence based on personal commitment and optimism, willingness and perseverance by all responsible citizens.

We believe that every human being can choose to take charge of his or her own future rather than be a victim of events. Imagination and creativity of every individual, combined with a greater sense of social responsibility, can contribute to changing our attitudes and making our societies better suited to cope with the multifaceted crises that trouble the world. We believe that the information society that is evolving, although it involves clear risks and constraints, offers considerable opportunities for building this better future.

The world is undergoing a period of unprecedented upheavals and fluctuations in its evolution into a global society for which people are not mentally prepared. As a result, their reaction is often negative, inspired by fear of the unknown and by unawareness of the global dimension of problems which seem no longer on a human scale. These fears, if not tackled, risk driving people to dangerous extremism, sterile nationalism and major social confrontations.
We do not know what this society will be like or how it will work. We must from now on learn to manage this period of fundamental transition, which may last several decades or become a permanent process, and prepare for a future in which humanity can develop in well-being and prosperity .

The times in which we live demand both individual and collective efforts to build systems and societies in which the human being, respect for others and compassion are key values; "competition" should be directed not to dominate and consume, but to stimulate and participate.

We must move towards a society that honours those who do the most to promote human happiness and well-being, not those who wield the greatest destructive power or indulge in the most profligate forms of consumption. Towards this end, education geared to the whole person, and to developing each individual’s unique potential and abilities for the greater good of the community, acquires an ever more crucial role .

We believe in the need to stimulate general debates on the major issues that have global implications for all aspects of the human condition, taking a holistic approach that covers their moral, material, cultural, social and scientific aspects. To this end, we publish works that will encourage governments, international agencies, business leaders and non-governmental organizations, youth movements and the positive forces in societies throughout the world, to adopt policies and take strategic decisions that are appropriate to constantly changing circumstances. It is clear that public opinion must play an increasingly critical role in this growth of awareness.

We, the members of the Club of Rome, are one hundred individuals, at present drawn from 52 countries and five continents. We represent different educations, philosophies, religions and cultures; we have different professional backgrounds and expertises. Naturally we often have different visions of the future. Yet we are united by a common concern — the future of humankind — and we therefore study the major issues affecting the world which we all share.
For as long as each member of the Club of Rome is able to fulfill his or her responsibilities, each of us undertakes to devote a significant proportion of his or her time and talents to working on behalf of humankind, and in particular helping to build societies that are more humane, more sustainable, more equitable and more peaceful.

With a view to serving humanity, the Club of Rome wishes to strengthen its role as a catalyst of change and as a centre of innovation and initiative; it can do this thanks to its wealth of ideas and energies, to the diversity of its membership and the ability of its members to act acquired as a result of their past or present positions and experience.
We trust in the ultimate capacity of men and women to express and to live in accordance with their ethical and spiritual values, while respecting the diversity of humankind.

We call upon men and women of good will, especially the young people of today, to share with us this work of reflection and action.

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The world has undergone drastic changes since the Club of Rome was created in 1968. As a result, we need to rethink our role and reformulate our mission to take account of the new demands arising from the period in which we are living.
As the 21st century approaches, there is a growing sense of uncertainty and anxiety. Faced by increasing complexity, dizzying globalization and a world subject to constant political, economic and social upheavals, human beings today are fearful. We appear to be in the early stages of the formation of a new type of world society.

The population explosion in the South and the ageing of the populations of the North, the risk of major disturbances in world climate, the precarious nature of supplies of food and water in many regions of the world, are all signs of the vast changes taking place.

The rapid growth of new technologies is another major element in the global problematic. At one level, these technologies are tools of progress in areas ranging from space and the environment to education and health care. At another, at least in the short term if not longer, they have an impact on such key sectors as employment and can have adverse effects on human beings, harming rather than helping them. In any case, they have a profound influence on societies, cultures and human psychology. These changes are so massive as to constitute a revolution of values and practices that affects the world as a whole, and will soon affect every individual.

Humanity is therefore confronted with a pressing need to create and develop a vision of the future, of a new civilization, enriched by the diversity of cultures, wisdom and philosophies derived from the various regions of the world. Although until now these ideas have sometimes existed only in the imaginations of certain unusually inspired individuals, we need now to bring them together and make full use of them in our search for a better future for humanity.

So far, the efforts to promote the growing globalization have almost always been perceived in a negative light, as an unfortunate consequence of a crisis of civilization . From now on, the most urgent challenge facing humanity is, on the contrary, to know how to make the most of the positive aspects and the new opportunities offered by the situation now before us; how to take advantage of this crucial opportunity to be imaginative and innovative, to build anew, that this unique historic moment offers to us.

This global revolution has no ideological basis. It is being shaped by an unprecedented mixture of geo-strategic shifts and of social, economic, technological, cultural and ethical factors which combine to generate unpredictable situations. In this transitional period, humanity is therefore facing a double challenge: having to grope its way towards an understanding of the new world with so many as yet hidden facets, and also, in the mists of uncertainty, to learn how to manage the new world and not be dominated by it .

Nothing escapes this tidal wave that carries all before it . Yet the greatest impact is undoubtedly on human hearts and minds. This is why our aim must be essentially normative and action-oriented. We must develop common standards, based on a sense of our shared responsibility towards future generations. The basis of the new order should be an understanding that human initiatives and institutions exist only to serve human needs. Central to it should be values that cannot be imposed from outside but must grow as part of the renewal occurring within every human individual.

From this standpoint, we shall then be able to visualize the sort of world we would like to live in; in order for this vision to be attainable and viable, we must evaluate the resources - human and moral and material - to forge this new global society. We must also devise ways of maintaining a balance between strengthening cultural identities and the requirements of globalization. Part of our efforts must be devoted to stimulating greater understanding of the nature of interdependence, both among human beings and between the human and natural worlds.

Given these conditions, what is the distinctive role of the Club of Rome?

After all, there is now a far greater awareness of the multifarious problems facing humanity. Governments, institutions, political bodies, business and labour organizations, environmentalists, academics, religious groups, victims and visionaries of the developing world and concerned groups of people everywhere are all trying to grapple with the same set of problems, which are so intertwined that those struggling with them have developed a sense of sharing in the difficulties, even if not of triumphing over them. Contributing to this level of awareness has been one of the greatest achievements of the Club of Rome.

Today more than ever we feel the need to address new global imbalances caused by differing speeds of population and economic growth as well as the disruptive effects of globalization in terms of fiercer competition, resulting in unemployment in some countries and miserably low pay in others, and leading to poverty and exclusion. We strongly feel the need for a thorough overhaul of democracy, going far beyond its present organization and functioning, and also to devise a new economic system that avoids the shortcomings of the market economy.

We are vividly aware of the lack of political leadership almost everywhere in the world and the absence of workable institutions for real international cooperation. Governance, destruction of the environment, energy, demography, underdevelopment and increasing poverty, international financial disorder, education, ethical values are some of the global issues that we are studying in order to arrive at a deeper understanding of the interactions within the tangle of contemporary problems, whatever they may be: political, social, economic, technological, environmental, cultural, and psychological.

The essential mission of the Club of Rome is to act as an international, non-official catalyst of change. This role is prompted by the slowness and inadequacy of governments and their institutions to respond to urgent problems, constrained as they are by structures and policies designed for earlier, simpler times and by relatively short electoral cycles. This, in view of the confrontational nature of much of public and international life, the stifling influence of expanding bureaucracies and the growing complexity of issues, suggests that the voice of independent and concerned people having access to the corridors of power around the world, should have a valuable contribution to make towards increasing understanding and, at times, jolting the system into action.

In this regard, we feel that the education of the young, as well as a process of lifelong learning, and the continued search for knowledge, are an essential ingredient in fostering a greater sense of responsibility among the citizens of both developing and industrialized countries.

The information society that is now rapidly developing is creating unique opportunities and methods for eliciting a sense of vigilance and responsibility among individuals and communities. In this area, too, we must stimulate people’s minds and thinking about these new experiences, where speed is all-important: speed of information, speed of travel, speed of change affecting the "global village", speed in acquiring knowledge and in eroding the social fabric. Let us not ignore any longer the risks of watching the tools of information accentuate the gulf between rich and poor people and countries.

The need for a centre of innovative thinking, especially about social issues, is becoming increasingly urgent - it should be able to identify new global issues before they appear on the international scene and then analyze them, to tackle their root causes, not merely (as so often) their consequences, and to encourage preventive measures rather than belated action. In the past, the Club has proved its competence in this role; it will do its best to continue to do so in future.

We live in a world overflowing with theoretical reports and policy analyses that are often filed without being read. One of our principal concerns must therefore be how we can obtain direct results from our work which will affect and modify the global trends we discuss .The Club is in no position to offer panaceas; however, it has already taken a number of initiatives to provide pathways to solutions with an impact on policy.

Since the creation of the Club of Rome thirty years ago, many useful new bodies have followed in our footsteps and have concerned themselves with individual aspects of the global problematic. But there does not appear to be any other body at the international level concerned with the whole range of problems and so many countries, disciplines and experiences within its membership.

This is what makes the Club of Rome truly unique.

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At the time of its foundation, in Rome in April 1968, the Club identified three major needs that justified its creation:

- To adopt a global perspective in examining issues and situations with the awareness that the increasing interdependence of nations, the emergence of world-wide problems and the future needs of all people posed predicaments beyond the capacity of individual countries to solve.

- To think holistically and to seek a deeper understanding of interactions within the tangle of contemporary problems -- political, social, economic, technological, environmental, psychological and cultural in every sense -- for which we coined the phrase "the world problematic".

- To take a longer term perspective in studies than is possible for governments preoccupied with day-to-day problems.

We believe that all three needs persist. The present trend is to propose highly differentiated solutions to individual problems with too little recognition of how much the problems interact. Our earlier attempts to identify and analyze the world problematic convince us that we must, on the contrary, work towards comprehensive solutions that involve public participation and negotiation to overcome apathy and confrontation; this is what we call the "resolutique".


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The Club of Rome is governed by an Executive Committee of thirteen members who investigate global issues, then set the priorities and decide on the strategies of the Club. Between its meetings, a Bureau of four members, led by the President and Secretary General of the Club, takes care of implementing the decisions and assuring the day-to-day management of the Club.

The most common methods are publishing Reports or notes, organizing meetings and symposia to which selected members are invited, frequent contacts with decision-makers in both public and private sectors, and a communications policy.

The Reports to the Club of Rome 
The first report The Club of Rome commissioned and published was "The Limits to Growth", a book which produced a world-wide impact (it sold 12 million copies in 37 languages) Its thesis was interpreted in many different ways. It stressed above all, for the first time, the importance of the environment, and the essential links with population and energy. This was a particularly striking illustration of what is meant by the global problematic.

This Report, a seminal one for the Club, has been followed by 21 others, on problems ranging from education, energy, the impact of micro-electronics on society, to governance, the role of NGOs in development and the environment. Others are now being prepared.

Only one book has been published as a Report by the Executive Committee rather than to the Club of Rome: it was entitled "The First Global Revolution" and was written by Alexander King and Bertrand Schneider. The Report tried to assess what had happened to the world problematic in the 21 years since "The Limits to Growth", stressing two critical elements — the human dimension and the need always when discussing world problems to consider concrete ways of dealing with them, i. e. the resolutique.

It is important to emphasize that, in addition to their role as information, the preparation and publication of these Reports must also meet two essential functions. First, they represent the starting point of a process and not its culmination. Their publication allows the Club, which has no claim to possessing the truth, to launch wide-ranging debates to discuss the conclusions and so share with a variety of audiences, from governments to universities and the media, its thinking and suggestions for the problems affecting the world. Secondly, they are the starting point for certain initiatives implemented at the highest levels of decision-making, both public and private, with a view to fostering changes to strategic factors.

In principle, the Club of Rome holds a Conference every year, always in a different region of the world. Thus the most recent meetings have been held in Kuala Lumpur, Hanover, Buenos Aires and Puerto Rico. In addition to the working sessions reserved for members of the Club, these meetings bring together personalities from the region or the world who are invited to take part in discussions on a particular aspect of the global problematic. These meetings have established fruitful inter-personal relations with leaders and activists in the region, enabled a better understanding of the region’s specific problems and its perception of global issues and the role it would like to play in them.

Members of the Club also take part in numerous working parties and symposia, such as the ones organized in Denver, Colorado, Toronto or Fukuoka in Japan on the theme of "Global—Local Interaction". The Club is also frequently invited to participate in meetings, national and international, official and private.

The members of the Executive Committee are frequently consulted by decision-makers in international institutions, governments, the business community and civil society; this has always been an important part of our work.

Aware of the importance of the information society, the Club has adopted a policy of world wide communication, using all the means available, and most recently the Internet, on which we are establishing a web-site.

However, the Club itself tends normally to adopt a low profile, and the passionate debate sparked by "The Limits to Growth", updated by the authors under the title "Beyond the Limits", has been the only and unexpected exception to this desire to operate discreetly. We believe that we are sometimes more effective when we work behind the scenes.

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In its early years, The Club of Rome adopted as its central project "The Predicament of Mankind" as a comprehensive approach to the world problematic and as an expression of its humanistic objectives. This still remains our essential concern. However, changes in the world situation and the experience gained through our studies and debates suggest that a revision of our emphasis and refinement of our approach are necessary for the new phase of our work.

Accumulated experience suggests that we should be operating within a paradigm of organic growth and holistic development, this means:

-  systematic, interdependent development where no part grows at the expense of others
-  multifaceted development that corresponds to needs and will necessarily differ in different parts of the world
-  harmonious coordination of goals to ensure world-wide compatibility
-  the ability to absorb disruptive influences on the course of development
-  emphasis on quality of development as a recognition that its processes are essentially directed towards the well-being of the human individual, who does not live "by bread alone"
-  constant renewal where new goals emerge as old goals are seen in a new light

The Club of Rome considers it to be its duty to contribute by working out specific proposals that would move the world in the direction of harmonious organic development and by playing its part in mobilizing the intellectual and moral resources to achieve this aim. Whatever our race, religion, philosophy, age and condition, the choice for each one of us is clear: the future can be bleak if we permit it to be bleak; it can be bright if we strive to make it bright. Humanity has enormous untapped resources of understanding and vision, of creative and moral energy which are its most valuable assets.

We believe that, if utilized, these strengths will enable human beings to realize the future they desire.

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The Executive Committee

  • Ricardo Diez Hochleitner President

  • Bertrand Schneider Secretary General

  • Ruth Bamela Engo-Tjega President of African NGO

  • Belisario Betancur ex-President of Colombia

  • Umberto Colombo ex Minister of Research and Universities of Italy

  • Orio Giarini Secretary General of the Geneva Association

  • Bohdan Hawrylyshyn Chairman,Council of Advisors of the Parliament of Ukraine

  • Alexander King co-founder of the Club of Rome

  • Yotaro Kobayashi President of Fuji Xerox

  • Eberhard von Koerber President of ABB Europe

  • Ruud Lubbers ex-Prime Minister of the Netherlands

  • Manfred Max-Neef Rector, Universidad Australe de Chile

  • Samuel Nana Sinkam FAO Director for Congo

  • Ilya Prigogine Nobel Laureate

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