Fuelling a major debate on the future of human societies and relaunching a dynamic of social progress; a vast programme, but oh so necessary! To take up this challenge, 300 social science researchers from around the world, including several Nobel Prize winners, have come together to create the International Panel for Social Progress. A forum for reflection and debate that should lead to the publication in August of a report designed to inform policies on the changes in societies. And they really need it.
Three hundred internationally renowned researchers have been selected by a committee chaired by Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen . This committee is composed of Kenneth Arrow (Nobel Prize, Stanford University, USA), Anthony Atkinson (London School of Economics, United Kingdom), Manuel Castells (University of California at Los Angeles, USA), Kemal Dervis (Brookings Institution, USA), James Heckman (2000 Nobel Prize, University of Chicago, USA), Kumari Jayawardena (University of Colombo, Sri Lanka), Ira Katznelson (Columbia University, USA), Inge Kaul (Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Germany), Edgar Morin (Professor Emeritus, CNRS, France), Sunita Narain (Centre for Science & Environment, New Delhi, India), Julian Nida-Rümelin (University of Munich, former Minister, Germany), Mustapha Nabli (former Minister and former Governor of the Central Bank, Tunisia), Michael Porter (Harvard Business School, USA), Robert Reich (University of Berkeley, former Minister, USA), Youba Sokona (Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, Mali), Margot Wallström (Minister, Sweden).
Their mission is stated from the outset in a manifesto published by the newspaper The World : " collectively produce a report on the initiatives that can be taken by institutions and political and social actors for the development of better and fairer societies in the coming decades ». The initiators stress the multidisciplinary nature of their panel. This is a fundamental point for them. Indeed, the increasing specialization of knowledge and the diversification of cultural perspectives in a rapidly changing world make it impossible for an individual researcher or a small group of experts to synthesize accumulated knowledge. Producing such a synthesis that can be accessible to local, national or transnational policy actors requires the integration of multidisciplinarity. Edgar Morin, who is a member of this committee, has certainly been able to influence his colleagues in the right direction on this issue.
This initiative takes on a dimension of urgency in today's tense world. The authors of the manifesto are aware of this: " We are facing a rapid intensification of economic, social, political, environmental, but also cultural and moral crises. We live in an increasingly unstable, unpredictable and therefore anxiety-generating world - anxiety that threatens peace and social cohesion. This anxiety is fuelled by the lack of prospects and opportunities for large segments of the population, low-skilled workers, unemployed youth, migrants and refugees. Precariousness, real or perceived insecurity, increasing structural inequalities which in turn generate a strong reduction in intergenerational social mobility affect today a large majority of the world's population.. »
These challenges are immense, yet politicians are powerless to address them. The International Panel for Social Progress pronounces a final judgment: " Traditional political parties do not offer any really attractive perspective and focus on managing the financial constraints of the moment, hiding their powerlessness in a discourse focused on secondary moral or social issues. Wanderings and dysfunctions in the conduct of national public policies are compounded by the difficulty of cooperating in international bodies (e.g. the World Trade Organisation or the European Union). The most dramatic result of these cumulative impotencies is the return or emergence of authoritarian or populist alternatives. ".
The cause of this impotence lies in the lack of long-term vision. This lack is not unique to politics alone. For the initiators of this panel, movements that have emerged in developed countries (Occupy, Indignados, Nuit debout) as well as those that overthrow dictatorships (Arab Spring) are also struggling to find promising ideas and to form structures organized around well-structured programs. They lack the tools to understand the evolution of economies and societies, but also "... they lack the tools to understand the evolution of economies and societies, but also "... they lack the tools to understand the evolution of economies and societies. obstacles to the identification and/or implementation of sustainable solutions to threats to the common good, opportunities for transformation and the associated risks ".
What the scientists grouped together in this project want is to create a dynamic by showing the various players all the opportunities and possibilities for overcoming obstacles and resistance. To carry out this mission, a schedule has been defined: next August, delivery of a first version of the report. Then, until the end of 2016, a series of public meetings, round tables and working groups to comment and develop the document. The final report should be made public in Lisbon in January 2017. Candidates in the French presidential elections should inevitably draw inspiration from it.