International economist and former career diplomat
offers plan to avert global crisis

During Executive Education’s early morning Breakfast Club in March, a former World Bank vice president for Europe gave business leaders an alarming wake-up call.

Jean-François Rischard, a financial economist and former career diplomat, is predicting a major global crisis in the next 20 years. But along with his predictions for global gloom, Rischard, who spent three decades at the World Bank and holds degrees in economics, law and a Harvard MBA, presented a ray of hope with his comprehensive plan to address and solve the problems.

Author of High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them, the soft-spoken Rischard has worked as a consultant to world government leaders, particularly in developing countries, to advise them on strategies to overhaul their economic and education systems and exploit technological innovations.

“There are two big forces of changes that are ahead of our ability to respond to them—population increase and the new economy,” he told the audience of 75 area business leaders and members of the Fisher community.

Along with population and new economic structures, Rischard discussed 18 other challenges to the world community that included environmental stresses, conflicts and peacekeeping, disease, decline in education and poverty.

“There is an urgent need for new approaches to global problem solving,” Rischard said. He strenuously emphasized that today’s geo-political infrastructures and multilateral organizations—such as the United Nations, NATO and the G-8—are not fast enough and do not have the expertise, resources and the powers required to implement solutions for complex global problems.

Rischard recommends a “networked governance approach,” organized through rules and policy bodies called Global Issues Networks (GINs). GINs, which would be formed around specific global issues, would carry international authority and powers of enforcement. However, no single country would dominate the network. The GINs would not only include government-appointed multinational representatives, but field experts from businesses, private and civil sectors, Rischard said.

Rischard lectures worldwide at international conferences and business gatherings in Europe, Asia and in the United States. In addition to speaking on college campuses, he is even reaching out to secondary schools internationally. His book inspired an internet based global problem solving project called Challenge 20/20, which has participation from preparatory and high schools from around the world.