I. Executive Summary

The State of the World Forum, in cooperation with its strategic partners worldwide, seeks to participate in the preparations and celebrations for the advent of the 21st century and the third millennium by offering to the people of the world an opportunity to imagine a world that works for everyone.

It does this in the conviction that the process of globalization, inclusive of all its contradictions and complexity, is in essence the challenge to envision and create the first global civilization. Notwithstanding the magnitude of concern generated by current socioeconomic challenges, the problems of the world are for the first time in history essentially manageable, given the scientific, technological, political and social tools at our disposal; and that humanity, already cooperating in so many areas, stands potentially ready to integrate the inner and outer dimensions of life in ways which infuses new depth in spiritual development and new purpose and responsibility to civic action.

Since 1992, the Forum has convened a global network of individuals and institutions from around the world and a spectrum of disciplines committed to discerning those principles, values and actions which should guide humanity as it moves beyond the strictures of the Cold War and into the next phase of human development. It does this in the conviction that in and through the turbulence prevalent in the world, a spirit is being quickened which is both challenging old paradigms and institutions and creating new possibilities for human cooperation.

The most compelling issue emerging from these gatherings is whether at this point in history a holistic framework articulating a common aspirational vision and practical programmatic agenda for the future can be developed which honors the multiplicity of the world while at the same time synthesizing it into a whole in which all the parts can find their natural and equitable place. The emerging challenge is to engage in an unprecedented collaborative inquiry, involving all critical stakeholders, concerning the possibility of co-creating an integrated developmental matrix in which human genius and diversity can be celebrated within the context of a shared sense of community and collective destiny.

We have the beginnings of such a transcultural matrix in the seven UN conferences of this decade, which have covered issues relating to children, the environment, human rights, social welfare and justice, population, women and habitat. Taken together, these conferences represent the common highest aspirations of humanity at the end of the 20th century, convenings at which most of the governments and NGOs have come together to forge consensus. There have also been a number of independent commissions such as the Brundtland, Brandt, Palme and Carnegie Commissions which also reflect high aspirations and broad consensus. The religious community, through the work of the Parliament of World Religions and others, has also begun the essential work of articulating a shared system of values and ethical principles common to all sacred traditions.

The challenge is to connect the dots, to discern those points of difference and interconnection between the various conferences and major independent commissions. When framed in an integrated manner, this will allow for a cohesive world view to emerge, one which gives comprehensive expression to human aspirations at this time of such profound transition, danger and opportunity.

Our Common Enterprise (OCE) will comprise the primary work of the State of the World Forum over the next two years. The focus of this endeavor will be to develop:

  • A Sustainable, Transcultural Agenda for the 21st Century - to articulate an integrated, ethical and programmatic framework for the future, the cornerstone of which will be the seven major UN conferences, independent commissions, corporate and academic think tanks, and the on-going work of the global interfaith community;

  • Model Programs and Best Practices - to identify model programs and best practices, already in existence, which exemplify and demonstrate the practicality of building a sustainable civilization.

  • State-of-the-art Decision Support System - to establish a permanent, internet-based global research and decision-support capability comprised of an international consortium of leading private and public think tanks and applied research centers worldwide which can serve as an objective reference standard for the provision of critical information, knowledge and wise council as regards the future development of a sustainable human civilization;

  • Civic Leadership Development - to create a Global Leadership Council comprised of innovative leaders from the fields of politics, social activism, business, finance, science, academia, religion and the arts who have participated in and are committed to OCE;

  • Transmedia Communication and Education - to develop television, radio, print and internet presentations and educational packages designed to inform, inspire and involve the interested public and civic institutions;

  • UN 2000 Forum - to conclude in September of the year 2000 in New York to coincide with the special Millennium General Assembly of the United Nations in order to present the findings and recommendations of OCE to the political leaders as they gather for their deliberations as well as commence OCE's outreach and interaction with the global public.