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UNU/UNESCO International Conference

Globalization with a Human Face - Benefitting All

30-31 July 2003, Tokyo

Background

The social, human and cultural dimensions of development and globalization have been at the core of the work of the United Nations University and UNESCO for the past decades. Globalization - a process characterized by shrinking space, shrinking time and disappearing borders - certainly has the potential of bringing great advances for humankind. However, markets alone cannot ensure that these advances are equally shared by all members of the global community. The main reason lies in the fact that global market forces can have negative effects on the provision of public goods such as social services, a healthy environment, or pluralistic cultural expression.

Therefore, it is necessary for the international community to place stronger emphasis on the impact of globalization on human well-being. In order to achieve a just and equal distribution of the benefits of economic globalization, its negative side effects need to be offset by reforms of governance on the international, regional and local levels. Only by further developing the way in which we organize our societies can we make sure that those currently not in the driver's seats of globalization can make their voices heard in the political processes affecting the range of their own personal choices.

Objectives

The conference will bring together leading experts on globalization to discuss the challenges we face in making globalization work for the benefit of all humankind. It will take stock of the achievements made in understanding the multiple linkages between the economic and political driving forces of globalization and socio-cultural development. And it will evaluate the effectiveness of political action taken to balance the negative with the positive effects of globalization on people's lives. This assessment will serve as a basis to identify areas and means for improving the policy response on part of governmental and civil society actors on the international, regional, national and local levels to the challenges of globalization.

Structure

A public forum on 30 July will explore our current understanding of the factors promoting globalization, the side-effects of globalization - intended or unintended - in a number of key policy areas, and the impact on cultural diversity and ethics brought about by globalization. The forum will be followed by a workshop on 31 July that will focus on best policy practices as well as areas and means for improving the policy response to the challenges of globalization.

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