7th Forum 2000 Conference: “Bridging Global Gaps”

Prague, Czech Republic

I am delighted to be here once again at the Bridging the Global Gap Conference, which addresses one of the most critical and pressing issues facing the international community today.

As you know, the Bridging the Global Gap Conference was preceded by the Forum 2000 Conferences—organized annually over a five-year period from 1997 to 2001. This series of conferences was attended by eminent thinkers and intellectuals from around the world who engaged in a candid exchange of views concerning a wide array of problems facing humanity today. Discussions centered on how to resolve the fundamental issues that have become the root causes of conflict and violence as globalization has proceeded. Efforts were made to clarify and understand existing differences, and identify common values and morals that transcend race, religions, and political systems; mutual understanding and tolerance were seen as the key to peaceful coexistence. The fruits of the conferences were compiled into the Prague Declaration and submitted to the United Nations. In addition to outlining the various insights gained from the five conferences, the Prague Declaration calls for the necessity of sustained and constructive dialogue.

It seems to me that modern society has been striving for the realization of a world where all people are accepted as equal. This sharing of common values is an aspect of “globalization” which the Forum 2000 conferences in the past have been addressing. On the other hand, globalization has also been widening and solidifying the gap between those who have and those who do not. These inequalities in wealth and opportunities cannot be tolerated, and there is an urgent need to come up with solutions to these problems.

Globalization has clearly facilitated the integration of developing countries into the global economy, and has to some extent contributed to the improvement of people’s living standards. But on the other hand, there are countries that have been left behind and have not been able to enjoy the benefits of globalization. In these countries, the degree of poverty is only getting worse, and the gaps between the haves and have-nots are widening. The world is now faced with the immediate challenge of bridging this gap between the winners and losers of the globalization process.

The significance of this Bridging the Global Gap Conference is that it provides both proponents and opponents of globalization with a highly valuable opportunity to work together to further enhance the positive aspects of globalization, while rectifying the negative aspects. I am deeply moved and encouraged by the fact that those, with different views and beliefs, such as representatives of international organizations, private corporations and NGOs, have willingly gathered around this table of dialogue.

We must first transcend our differences and address our common concerns over the growing global gap; then work together to devise effective and feasible solutions to the problems.

I trust that the conference will be a great success and look forward to lively and constructive discussions that will pave the way to a brighter future.