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Jean-Francois Rischard is an economist. He was the Vice President of World Bank from 1998 to 2005. Born in Luxembourg in 1948, Rischard holds doctoral degrees in law and economics[…]

Rischard remains an optimist despite his book’s stark predictions.

Jean-Francois Rischard: I remain an optimist. And my book is actually an optimistic book even though the diagnosis is quite stark. I believe that the technique I’m describing could be booted up very quickly. It’s easy to set up networks of experts. You don’t start a new institution, which would take forever. So there is something in the network technique, and in the waiting technique which is quick and efficient. And I think one could do that while keeping the existing international system, but boot up these networks on top of it and do it pretty quickly. On that I’m optimistic. Secondly I’m optimistic – and even more so when I was when I wrote the book – because something happened in terms of the awareness people have about the seriousness of the issue . . . of these issues. And that’s awareness raising. It really goes back to one or two years ago, including because of Al Gore’s movie on global warming which has caused an atmosphere in the U.S. where everyone is obsessed about global warming; where two or three years ago when I was giving speeches on this, people were yawning and believing I was overdoing it. Even the Chinese government – even though it’s not been very forthcoming on a Kyoto-like solution – will discuss in its 11th Congress social harmony and environment. So the . . . I think the atmosphere is one now where there is more awareness not only of the seriousness of these issues, but also of the fact that we need some new global governance mechanisms. Because if we leave things as they are, we will not make any progress on any of these issues. So I think the . . . I’m rather more optimistic than I would have been a few years ago. This being said, we are still far from having a real debate about the global problem solving methodology, which is a debate I think we should have at the G8 level, at the UN level, and at least among 30 or 40 heads of state. I think that is the next step. Not to discuss any of the 20 issues in itself, but to discuss how we create a more effective navigation problem for this planet in this unprecedented period that we talked about earlier where the curves are going straight up; and when you can’t afford time delays and navigation hesitancies and more.

Recorded on: 7/2/07