My hope is that the dialogue we have begun will help to re-connect us to an understanding of civil society as a deeply human construct, as a facilitator of empowering social relationships. In this, it will be crucial to reflect on the role of our own organisations. For only solutions that are at once pragmatic and radical will be sufficient to meet the challenges we face.
These days, a soccer World Cup is a multi-billion dollar project, with a number of financial "winners," such as FIFA, and many losers, given the development priorities that are sacrificed to build gleaming stadia. Does this also mean that one can explain a nation's success at the cup largely by money?
History did not end in 1989, but for too many of the people who bought into Francis Fukuyama's influential "End of History?" article, what ended then was thinking. A failure to understand that successful countries of the West maintain a balance of power across the public, private, and plural sectors of society has been throwing the U.S. and many other countries out of balance ever since.
Before the matches of the World Cup began, the Brazilian people were protesting in the streets because they knew they could not afford the $13 billion it cost to host the games. In Greece, similar concerns about public mismanagement was the issue and like Brazil, street artists reflected those concerns.
The World Bank has not yet addressed climate issues systematically. Most notably, its Safeguard Policy framework does not require climate change risk assessments for Bank projects. This gap in policy has allowed the World Bank to continue financing projects with serious implications for our climate and to essentially ignore the issue completely.
Anybody can claim the mantle of democracy. Russian neo-fascist Vladimir Zhirinovsky runs a party called the Liberal Democratic Party. Even North Korea makes a nod in this direction when it calls itself the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The countries of East-Central Europe are, of course, in a different category.