Rotary Alumni Celebration to address world's problems
Jean-François Rischard, author of High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them
, will speak at the Rotary Alumni Celebration. Photo courtesy of Jean-François Rischard
In the classic Western film High Noon , Gary Cooper faces an imminent showdown in a tense community. To Jean-François Rischard, author of High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them , it's a perfect metaphor to convey the urgency of the global challenges we currently face.
"We must take the best minds in the world and help them become agents for global problem-solving," says Rischard, who will be the keynote speaker at the Rotary Alumni Celebration taking place 20 June in Birmingham, England.
As an Ambassadorial Scholar at Harvard Business School in 1974-75, Rischard had one primary goal: to obtain a position at the World Bank. "I could think of no better spot to be, because it was so central and so influential" in helping 150 countries improve their standard of living, he explains.
A native of Luxembourg, Rischard had been teaching at the University of Aix-Marseille, France, having already earned degrees in law and economics. But inspired by then-World Bank President Robert McNamara, who is credited with shifting the bank's focus toward poverty reduction, and with help from the Rotary Club of Aix-en-Provence, he headed off to Harvard for an MBA.
Rischard then began a 30-year career at the World Bank in Paris, rising to become vice president for Europe, which put him in charge of developing new partnerships and initiatives with the bank's biggest shareholders. His multidisciplinary background and international experience helped prompt Rischard to write High Noon , a short, highly accessible book that has since been translated into 15 languages.
In the book, Rischard describes 20 critical global problems that he believes cannot be solved by individual nations or existing international institutions alone. He groups these problems into three categories: Issues involving the earth's resources, such as global warming and water shortages; humanitarian issues such as disease and poverty reduction; and regulatory issues involving trade and labor. Since the book's 2002 publication, Rischard says, "the problems have all gotten worse."
To solve them, Rischard proposes a model of global issue networks involving experts from governments, nongovernmental organizations, and the business world working together on a specific issue. What these networks might look like and how they could operate will be a subject for discussion at the Rotary Alumni Celebration. Attendees are encouraged to read High Noon in advance in order to fully participate in roundtable discussions and a question-and-answer session with Rischard; the first 50 Ambassadorial Scholar and Group Study Exchange team member alumni to register for the celebration will receive a free copy of the book.
Because most Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars have cultivated a global citizen mindset, Rischard notes, they are in a unique position to address global issues. "Regardless of their specialty, Ambassadorial Scholars should consider themselves to be global problem-solvers first, because through Rotary they have had the chance to develop skills at the global level," he says. "We are short on global problem-solvers."
Although time is running out, the problems we face are not insurmountable, Rischard stresses. Gary Cooper emerged triumphant in High Noon . So too, perhaps, can we.
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