2nd West Asia North Africa Forum: “Pursuing Supranational Solutions to the Challenges of Carrying Capacity”

Amman, Jordan

Your Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal, Distinguished Guests;

It is a great honor to be here again this year and to have the opportunity to address such distinguished company.

Please allow me to begin by expressing my deepest admiration and gratitude to His Royal Highness Prince Hassan, whose vision has made it possible for us to gather here today.
I would also like to express my appreciation to the members of the International Senior Advisory Board, who have so generously shared their wisdom and experience in elaborating the WANA vision.

In addition, I extend a warm welcome to all participants. It is truly encouraging to see individuals from across and beyond the region come together with the common aim of building a better future for the WANA region.

During the many years I have known His Royal Highness, time and time again I have been struck by his intellect, inspired by his vision, and infused with hope by his unwavering commitment to his work. His Royal Highness and I come from two very different parts of the world. We have led quite different lives. But I knew from the very beginning of our friendship that we shared something very important. We share the same values, the same concerns and hopes, and the same sense of mission. Therefore, I am very pleased to be able to extend my support in launching the WANA Forum.

Like any part of the world, the WANA region faces many challenges. One does not have to live in the region to be aware of the many issues that require attention: education, health, the economy, the environment, security. The list goes on.

And we all know that in today’s complex, interdependent world, most of these challenges cannot be addressed effectively by one nation, institution or individual acting alone. In order to address these challenges, a long-term, collective vision needs to be nurtured. The first requirement toward that end is a framework for bringing different voices together. But needless to say, simply bringing people together is not enough.

The framework must allow participants to transcend individual, local, and national interests, and embrace a larger goal. It must allow them to share a collective vision for the region. It must provide them with the means to identify their most important challenges and address them effectively. This seems fairly straightforward. But in reality, achieving these things may not always be simple, especially when the participants represent the interests of different nations, groups or institutions. I firmly believe, like His Royal Highness, that what is needed is for people to come together as individuals. I also believe in the importance of giving these issues a human face.

A moment ago I raised a few of the issues that require attention in the WANA region: education, health, the economy and the environment. We know we have to do something about the lack of access to quality education and healthcare, the economic divide, and environmental degradation.

As we address these issues, I believe it is important to keep in mind that when we talk about lack of access to education and healthcare, we are talking about children not being able to stay in school or get the treatment they need when they are ill. When we talk about the economic divide, we are talking about fathers and mothers not being able to provide for their families. When we say environmental problems, we are talking about our children’s children not having access to safe drinking water or the energy to heat or cool their homes.

I believe the WANA Forum is truly unique in that it never loses sight of the human element. This is the real essence of the issue at hand. We are a group of individuals that comes together to address very real problems affecting individual lives. I have been greatly encouraged to see members of the forum taking concrete steps toward engaging these problems through the various working groups. I have no doubt that we can make real contributions toward encouraging policymaking that will put the future of the people in the region first. It is a true privilege to be a member of the WANA Forum and I very much look forward to seeing this forum of likeminded individuals grow in the years to come.

In closing, I would like to offer my deepest thanks once again to His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal, and all of the other participants who have travelled here to Jordan to discuss and construct a better future for the WANA region.