It was a pleasure to return again to Cairo, and to have the chance to work with my dear friend Leena Ilmola to co-moderate the Union for the Mediterranean‘s first “Business Forum”. The speakers and organisers were excellent, and a real highlight for me (perhaps also as I could just relax and listen to that bit of the session as Leena moderated 😉) was to hear how entrepreneurs in the East and South of the Mediterranean are using e-commerce to beat entirely new paths to trade (and more). Certainly my congratulations to Roula Moussa, who now runs two super interesting ventures!
Thanks to Daniele Réchard and her team for organising an excellent day as part of the ESPAS ‘Global Trends to 2030: The Making of a New Geopolitical Order?’ event, and good to see so many friends there, inter alia Angela Wilkinson, Aaron Maniam, Jeanette Kwek, Norbert Reez, Jaana Tapanainen, Kristel Vanderelst, Thomas Lehr, Alun Rhydderch, Duncan Cass-Beggs, Joshua Polchar, and Christopher Cordey …
Many speakers focused on the threats we face, so I used the chance to promote Garret Banning’s idea of a starting an Annual Opportunity Assessment hearing. His logic: the US has an annual threat assessment, so why not also look for the opportunities in a systematic way as well: social, technological and political change makes many things possible in international relations today that were not possible before, and as Mary Kalder pointed out, if we only look at things through the geopolitical lens, everything seems very bleak…. And my thought: no need to wait for the US on this, let’s have the European Parliament organise the opportunity assessment (and please, if so, not in a standard format, let us be creative for once!)
Just facilitated a very interesting conference on “Energy for Displaced People: A Global Plan of Action for Sustainable Energy Solutions in Situations of Displacement”.
Most striking: this is a clear reaffirmation that nobody should be left behind with regards to access to energy (as per SDG 7) – not even those displaced by conflict or disaster. Also that UN agencies and donors really must walk the talk themselves: if they wish to be carbon neutral by 2020 (declared aim), then even in urgent humanitarian cases it is time to stop shipping diesel generators (often to the middle of nowhere), thereby developing a fossil fuel supply and dependency chain.
Also remarkable was the very broad representation of people present from almost all corners of the energy and refugee/ displaced people spectrum, and the fact this was a bottom-up initiative, where those concerned with these issues were often trying to win over their own organisations for a sustainable energy solution (a particular challenge given that energy is not a focus of humanitarian/ development work in many cases, despite the fact that it enables so much of this work).