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Hello, this is Michael Møller, chairman of GESDA's Diplomacy Forum and formerly head of the UN office in Geneva.

Today I want to make the case about multilateralism, building on a chapter that I wrote for the book '100 Years of Multilateralism in Geneva, from the League of Nations to the UN', published this year.

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Michael Møller,

10.10.2020


The imperative of a new multilateralism – enhanced by science


You don’t need me to tell you that we are living in a really troubled world.

Covid-19 has indeed revealed, and in many cases reinforced, the dramatic failures of our societies and has highlighted in very stark ways the stress that multilateralism is now under, and the very serious consequences that abandoning a collective management of the affairs of our planet is having, and will have, on people across the globe.

Before the pandemic struck, I often asked people the following question: If you could choose any moment in history in which to be born, and you did not know whether you were going to be male or female, which country you were going to be from, or what your status would be, which time would you choose?

You would have a hard time justifying choosing anything other than the present. Because if you chose today, you would be less likely to be living in poverty; less likely to be illiterate; less likely to confront intolerance and oppression; and less likely to be killed in a war than at any other time in human history.

All of this progress is a relatively recent phenomenon that coincided with the establishment of a multilateral, global structure with the United Nations and its partners at its heart.

It is multilateral action that diminished poverty; that defeated diseases; that increased educational levels; that defused conflicts; that brought the world together; that gave us levels of peace, rights and well-being never experienced before by humankind.

But now, as we see entire regions set back years in a matter of a few months by the pandemic; as millions of people may be pushed into extreme poverty – does all of that still hold true?

I am convinced that it does. If anything, Covid-19 reinforces the imperative need for a renewed and more effective multilateralism. The temporary failure of our governance systems we are living right now lies in the absence of multilateral actions defined by an increase in nationalistic, inward-looking, defensive postures. The operative word here is temporary. Because we simply have no choice but to revert to international cooperation and solidarity if we want to ensure a healthy future for our planet.

Read full article here


Anticipatory reads by GESDA


Photo article

The IEA has said carbon storage technologies, which capture CO2 produced by factories or fossil fuel power plants, are critical to tackling climate change. Photo: AP Photo/David Goldman

Fighting climate change might be “virtually impossible” without capturing and storing CO2 (CCS) from their different sources (factories, power plants, transportation, etc.), underlined last month the International Energy Agency. But CCS “is a controversial idea, attacked as a costly distraction from stopping emissions occurring in the first place”, sums up the Guardian.

Both views can be defended. But one should not forget that solutions to existing technological problems might sometimes pop up with the craziest ideas. And this week was rich in examples showing that this vision must also apply to CCS, by making the most of rock formation, peat harvesting, Lego-like assembly of zeolitic membranes, semiconductive photocatalysts, and even asbestos (!) to do CCS. Long live serendipity in science and technology!

--Olivier Dessibourg, GESDA

(EN)

Asbestos could be a powerful weapon against climate change (you read that right). Scientists are exploring ways to use mineral waste from mines to pull huge amounts of carbon dioxide out of the air.

MIT Technology Review (EN)

How machine learning made hops-free hoppy beer (and other synbio wonders) possible. Synthetic biology rejiggers the basic building blocks of life - DNA, proteins, biochemical circuits—to rewire living organisms or even build entirely new ones.

Singularity Hub (EN)

Neuroscientists discover a molecular mechanism that allows memories to form. A new study reveals that the memory process is controlled by large-scale remodelling of cells' chromatin over several days.

MIT (EN)

Could a poo transplant one day be the secret of eternal youth? Faecal transplants could one day be used as a therapy to restore cognitive function in the elderly, shows a study on mice.

University of East Anglia (EN)

How GPT-3 is shaping our AI future. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman explores the ethical and research challenges in creating artificial general intelligence.

Harvard Business Review (Podcast) (EN)
Photo article

A man watches as a visitor tries out a facial recognition display at a booth for Chinese tech firm Ping'an Technology at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing, 2018, Photo: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

From AI to facial recognition: how China is setting the rules in new tech. In its bid to rival the US, Beijing wants to establish the industrial standards that will shape future industries.

Financial Times (EN)

Celestial property rights: How we can achieve a new, commerce-fueled space age. Provided the United States successfully navigates the legal and economic challenges of space exploration, the benefits for humanity can be enormous.

SpaceNews (EN)

With ‘nutrition labels’ and an anthropologist’s eye, Duke pioneers a new approach to AI in medicine. Researchers are pioneering a uniquely inclusive approach to deploying their own clinical AI tools, starting by drawing from ideas among staff.

STAT+ (EN)

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This selection is proposed by the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator GESDA, working on anticipating cutting-edge science and technological advances to develop innovative and inclusive solutions for the benefit of the planet and its inhabitants.


GESDA and the reason for anticipation


Humanity is facing more than ever global challenges (with regards, e.g., to the COVID-19 crisis), putting people and the planet under stress and in great uncertainty. Simultaneously, the world is experiencing breakthroughs in science and technology at an unprecedented pace, sometimes hard to grasp. Anticipation is therefore key to build the future with the aim to early and fully exploit this scientific potential for the well-being and inclusive development of all. The Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator has been founded in Geneva in 2019 to tackle this issue.

GESDA's ambition is first to anticipate and identify these cutting-edge science and technology advances in various domains (Quantum revolution & advanced AI, Human augmentation, Ecoregeneration and Geoengineering, Science and Diplomacy). Then, based on this panoramic scientific outlook, it will, with its diplomacy community, translate those potential science and technology leaps into tools that can bring effective and socially inclusive solutions to emerging challenges. Most importantly, this process will be achieved not only by scientists and technologists or diplomats, but will include actors of various other professional origins and mindsets (from philanthropy, industry, citizens, to youth).


GS news is a new media project covering the world of international cooperation and development. Don’t hesitate to forward our newsletter!

Have a good day!

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