Experts from diverse perspectives argued the merits, consequences, and future of globalisation in a solutions-focused Doha Debates programme yesterday.
A production of Qatar Foundation, it was held at the TEDSummit 2019 conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The debate’s participants, with the help of a conflict resolution expert, bridged differences, found common ground, and agreed on recommendations to help ensure globalisation benefits all.
The programme included questions and suggestions from audience members in person, as well as millions of people around the world watching the debate via Twitter livestream.
The debate’s speakers were Parag Khanna, an Indian-American CEO, international strategist, and author; Sisonke Msimang, a South African writer whose work focuses on race, gender, and equality; and Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the women-led American grassroots advocacy organisation, Codepink.
The programme also featured bridge-building “connector” Govinda Clayton, moderator, Ghida Fakhry, and digital correspondent Nelufar Hedayat, who shared questions and comments from livestream viewers around the world.
During the debate, Khanna acknowledged globalisation’s challenges while arguing “the backlash that we talk about today is not against globalisation, but rather the governments that have failed to manage it for the benefit of their societies.”
Benjamin expressed greater concern, saying: “Globalisation gives too much power to big, multinational corporations that destroy local businesses, exacerbate inequalities, crush democratic movements, overturn local regulations, and make decisions that affect the lives of billions of people.”
Msimang argued that globalisation is a “smokescreen,” a polarising term that muddles and overshadows the true underlying issues.
She encouraged people everywhere to take action locally, adding “talking about your hopes and fears is a far better starting point than talking about this abstract thing called ‘globalisation.’”
The debate’s in-person and online audiences voted twice on key globalisation questions.
During the first vote, Msimang’s position, ‘Make it concrete, not abstract. Stand up’, was the clear winner, with 41.35% of the audience’s votes.
Benjamin’s position, ‘Think globally and act locally’, and Khanna’s position, ‘Globalisation doesn’t fail. We do’, came in at 29.48% and 29.27% respectively.
After the Majlis segment, which builds consensus and bridges divides, the audience at TEDSummit and around the world voted a second time.
Khanna surpassed Benjamin with 35% of the vote, yet Msimang maintained her lead with 39% of the vote.
The poll will remain live on Twitter @DohaDebates for the next seven days.
QF Education City university students were among the attendees in Edinburgh, and the debate was shown at Qatar National Library.
Amjad Atallah, managing director, Doha Debates, said: “This programme was a phenomenal success, thanks to our terrific speakers, engaged attendees and viewers around the world, and our remarkable partnership with TED. With Doha Debates quickly garnering followers in 215 nations and territories, it’s clear that people everywhere are eager for solutions-focused dialogue on the hot topics of our time.”
The next live Doha Debates programme is scheduled for September 10 in Cape Town, South Africa, with the global water shortage crisis as the topic.