Inaugurazione A.A. AISES 2016/2017 "Il futuro delle città tra integrazione, cultura e sostenibilità" con Virginia Raggi, Sindaco di Roma


 è lieta di invitare la S.V. il 9 Novembre ore 17 all' inaugurazione dell’Anno Accademico AISES 2016/2017

Auditorium dell’Accademia delle Belle Arti, Via Ripetta, 222 – Roma

“Il Futuro delle Città tra Cultura, Integrazione e Sostenibilità” 


 Dopo i saluti di Mario ALÌ, Presidente dell’Accademia delle Belle Arti di Roma, e la relazione introduttiva di Valerio DE LUCA, Presidente dell’Accademia AISES, l’evento vedrà la partecipazione di Virginia RAGGI, Sindaco di Roma, come Guest Speaker.

Seguiranno gli interventi di Edith ARBIB ANAV, Responsabile AISES per il Dialogo Interreligioso, Riccardo DI SEGNI, Rabbino Capo di Roma e Andreina DRAGHI, Responsabile AISES per la Cultura e Sviluppo.

Le conclusioni saranno affidate a S.E.R. Mons. Lorenzo LEUZZI, Vescovo Ausiliare di Roma
Modera Paolo MESSA, Direttore del Centro Studi Americani e Socio AISES 

 È possibile visualizzare il programma completo nel file in allegato.



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Putting People First in Europe




PARIS – The same type of populist discontent that fueled Brexit in the United Kingdom is on the rise throughout Europe, suggesting that policymakers have lost sight of the European project’s central objective: to ensure the wellbeing of all Europeans. As the first United Nations Human Development Report put it in 1990: “People are the real wealth of a nation.”


The best way to capitalize on the people of a country or region is through social equity. Amartya Sen, in his magisterial The Idea of Justice, concluded that true social equity requires not equal treatment for all, but rather unequal treatment in favor of the poor and most disadvantaged. Mere equity in public finance or in the eyes of the law is not enough if we don’t also consider the different starting points for individuals and groups in society. Recognizing this, successive UN development reports since 1990 have made the case that both economies and societies are stronger when public policy puts people’s wellbeing first.


However, this outlook hasn’t yet taken root in the EU’s elite policymaking circles, where well-meaning economists and politicians often believe they are doing the right thing by balancing budgets and reining in spending, usually by cutting health, education, and infrastructure budgets. These policymakers, with little empirical evidence, believe that fiscal prudence today will lead to a stronger economy tomorrow.

This is the thinking behind the current policy mix in Europe, where fiscal austerity is combined with “structural reform,” meaning less spending on the social safety net and less regulation to protect workers. Obviously, the costs of these policies are mostly borne by the poor and the middle class.

But there are several other problems with this approach as well. First, it isn’t good for most people’s incomes. When the Oxford University economist Tony Atkinson looked at the UK’s economic performance through the lens of inequality, the 1980s, generally considered a strong decade in terms of growth, appeared much worse; and the 1990s, regarded as a low-growth decade, appeared much better.


Atkinson’s findings point to a central question: Who benefits from growth – the many or the few? If an economy can be said to be growing when a small minority receives most of the gains while everyone else’s lot stays the same or decreases, the concept of economic growth loses much of its meaning.

This leads to a second problem with the prevailing paradigm, which is that it puts abstract economic indicators before actual people. Because gross domestic product is the preferred gauge of any economy’s value, many factors that contribute to human wellbeing are ignored, and spending on fundamental needs, such as health and education, comes to be seen as an expense rather than an essential investment.


If policymakers viewed such spending as an investment, they could start thinking about how to maximize returns. Like all investments in human or fixed capital, there may be diminishing returns at high levels. So, rather than funneling economic benefits to the rich and assuming it will “trickle down,” policymakers should assess whether investing in opportunities for the poor actually does more for economic growth. In the US, the 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (better known as the GI Bill) was a success because it provided training for those most in need of it, enabling returning World War II veterans to re-enter the productive economy. The bill created a more educated workforce and ushered in a period of rising incomes for most Americans.


A third problem with the current approach is that its central objective is not full employment. It is time to return to the macroeconomic policies of the 1950s and 1960s, which recognized the benefits of full employment in fostering social stability and sustainable growth. As the Nordic model shows, high employment is good for the economy because it ensures adequate tax revenues to finance high levels of social investment, which creates a virtuous cycle.

Many European countries are now in a vicious cycle instead, with austerity policies worsening the problem of youth unemployment. This is not only unnecessary, but also wasteful, because it risks creating a generation that will be ill equipped to drive future growth. As John Maynard Keynes pointed out in 1937, “The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.” In the current slump, European countries should be investing in their human capital to spur their economies’ potential growth.


The fourth problem is that European countries’ fiscal policies do not emphasize creativity and innovation, which benefits not only from a conducive regulatory environment, but also from high-quality education and infrastructure. Governments need to reduce bureaucratic red tape so that entrepreneurs can take more risks. But breakthrough technology companies such as Apple, Facebook, and Twitter also depend on people who had access to well-funded education systems. And while there is a growing “tech for good” sector in Europe, it will succeed only if it is supported by up-to-date infrastructure, which generally requires public outlays.


Policymakers in Europe (and elsewhere) need to adjust their thinking – especially their fiscal thinking – to put people first. Governments that make it their central objective to maximize human wellbeing end up not only encouraging higher economic growth, but also nurturing healthier politics.


Jean-Paul Fitoussi

Khalid Malik


Read on Project Syndicate:

Sustainable development: a new kind of globalization

shutterstock 84255913


AROUND THE WORLD, people are calling for a new kind of globalization. The current version, once called the Washington Consensus, has delivered economic growth but at enormous cost: rising inequalities of income, massive environmental destruction, and growing lawlessness. The search is on for a new approach, sometimes called sustainable development, to ensure that economic growth is also socially just and environmentally sustainable.


Nine months ago, Pope Francis spoke to world leaders at the United Nations calling for such a holistic and moral vision, and the world leaders responded by adopting a new framework of cooperation for the years 2016-2030, called Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. The SDGs were negotiated over several years based on a simple yet powerful idea: Every one of the 193 UN member countries can benefit by a globalization that combines economic, social, and environmental objectives.


The aim is not global governance but global decency. The responsibility for change still rests with national governments and local communities. Economic development still counts, but alongside social fairness and environmental sustainability. Yet all nations can benefit from a common global framework and the efforts of every other country to achieve it.


Americans could be among the world’s biggest beneficiaries of the new Sustainable Development Goals, though the concept has hardly been discussed in the American media. While other countries have been holding forums to discuss the SDGs, the United States has largely ignored them except on campuses, in some city governments, and in many companies. Yet this is a case where the United States has a lot to learn, and benefit, from other countries.


The SDGs work for the United States because they address the core problems that ail our society. Since 1980, America has become much richer, with national income per person up by 80 percent.Yet America is now vastly more divided between rich and poor; more vulnerable to droughts, floods, and extreme storms; and less confident in its future. An astounding 73 percent of Americans believe that the country is “on the wrong track.” In short, America has become much richer but much less fair and environmentally sustainable.


The Sustainable Development Goals pour scorn on the once-popular idea that “greed is good” by emphasizing that an American society (indeed any society) built to last must look beyond greed to honesty, solidarity, and sustainability. And the SDGs offer up some practical benchmarks to measure progress. The implications for the United States are eye-opening.

While all countries have a ways to go to achieve sustainable development, the United States has much farther to go than many other countries. Each country’s state of sustainable development can be scored on a set of detailed indicators measuring poverty, nutrition, health care, education, income, jobs, gender equality, gaps of rich and poor, environmental pollution, and other specific standards for the 17 SDGs. I recently participated in the first-ever such effort to measure global progress toward the SDGs by producing an SDG Index that covers 149 countries and 77 indicators (available at on Wednesday).


According to the new SDG Index, the United States ranks 25th in the world in the progress toward the SDGs, far ahead of the world’s poorest countries but also far behind the world leaders. The world leaders in sustainable development are the Scandinavian countries: Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, ranking first, second, and third, respectively. Northern European countries account for the remaining top 10. Canada also far outpaces the United States, ranking 13th, and Australia ranks 20th.


The SDG rankings reflect deep and instructive differences between the United States and the SDG leaders in how our societies tick and the quality of life that we enjoy. The Scandinavian economies (and Northern European countries generally) have much lower maternal and infant death rates, higher life expectancy, longer vacation times, and a far lower inequality of income. Sweden’s homicide rate is around one-seventh of America’s and its incarceration rate is roughly one-tenth. Compared with Americans the countries leading in sustainable development are also happier, with much higher ratings of self-assessed “life satisfaction.”


Even the world’s SDG-leading countries have their work cut out for them in order to achieve sustainable development. In order to stop human-caused climate change, for example, every high-income country has yet to shift energy production from fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) to low-carbon renewables (such as solar and wind). Two of the Sustainable Development Goals call for the shift to low-carbon energy, and the SDG Index will help to track that progress country by country in future years.


What makes the SDGs especially important is that they are far more than just another political concept or utopian ideal. They are specific, time-bound goals (to the year 2030) that have been agreed to by every UN member state, including the United States. Of course, international agreements don’t guarantee international action, yet the SDGs offer at least the chance for a global-scale effort to set things in a better direction. They respond to Pope Francis’ call in his encyclical Laudato si’ “to think of one world with a common plan.”


This week at the United Nations, 22 governments are presenting to the world their initial efforts to achieve the SDGs. The United States, no surprise, is not among these first 22 countries. We are understandably absorbed in, and distracted by, the presidential campaign.


Yet despite the current distractions, let’s work toward the United States sharing the SDG stage at the UN in one year’s time, when the SDGs will once again be reviewed. No matter who is elected in November, America will still be on the wrong track and in need of a change of direction. Our problems today go well beyond short-term politics, to the very question of our national objectives and our cohesion as a society. As the rest of the world is recognizing at the highest levels of religion, politics, business, and civil society, the concept of sustainable development offers us the chance to put the world on a more prosperous, fair, and sustainable path.



The Meaning of Brexit



Project Syndicate


NEW YORK – The Brexit vote was a triple protest: against surging immigration, City of London bankers, and European Union institutions, in that order. It will have major consequences. Donald Trump’s campaign for the US presidency will receive a huge boost, as will other anti-immigrant populist politicians. Moreover, leaving the EU will wound the British economy, and could well push Scotland to leave the United Kingdom – to say nothing of Brexit’s ramifications for the future of European integration.

Brexit is thus a watershed event that signals the need for a new kind of globalization, one that could be far superior to the status quo that was rejected at the British polls.

At its core, Brexit reflects a pervasive phenomenon in the high-income world: rising support for populist parties campaigning for a clampdown on immigration. Roughly half the population in Europe and the United States, generally working-class voters, believes that immigration is out of control, posing a threat to public order and cultural norms.

In the middle of the Brexit campaign in May, it was reported that the UK had net immigration of 333,000 persons in 2015, more than triple the government’s previously announced target of 100,000. That news came on top of the Syrian refugee crisis, terrorist attacks by Syrian migrants and disaffected children of earlier immigrants, and highly publicized reports of assaults on women and girls by migrants in Germany and elsewhere.

In the US, Trump backers similarly rail against the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented residents, mainly Hispanic, who overwhelmingly live peaceful and productive lives, but without proper visas or work permits. For many Trump supporters, the crucial fact about the recent attack in Orlando is that the perpetrator was the son of Muslim immigrants from Afghanistan and acted in the name of anti-American sentiment (though committing mass murder with semi-automatic weapons is, alas, all too American).

Warnings that Brexit would lower income levels were either dismissed outright, wrongly, as mere fearmongering, or weighed against the Leavers’ greater interest in border control. A major factor, however, was implicit class warfare. Working-class “Leave” voters reasoned that most or all of the income losses would in any event be borne by the rich, and especially the despised bankers of the City of London.

Americans disdain Wall Street and its greedy and often criminal behavior at least as much as the British working class disdains the City of London. This, too, suggests a campaign advantage for Trump over his opponent in November, Hillary Clinton, whose candidacy is heavily financed by Wall Street. Clinton should take note and distance herself from Wall Street.

In the UK, these two powerful political currents – rejection of immigration and class warfare – were joined by the widespread sentiment that EU institutions are dysfunctional. They surely are. One need only cite the last six years of mismanagement of the Greek crisis by self-serving, shortsighted European politicians. The continuing eurozone turmoil was, understandably, enough to put off millions of UK voters.

The short-run consequences of Brexit are already clear: the pound has plummeted to a 31-year low. In the near term, the City of London will face major uncertainties, job losses, and a collapse of bonuses. Property values in London will cool. The possible longer-run knock-on effects in Europe – including likely Scottish independence; possible Catalonian independence; a breakdown of free movement of people in the EU; a surge in anti-immigrant politics (including the possible election of Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen) – are enormous. Other countries might hold referendums of their own, and some may choose to leave.

In Europe, the call to punish Britain pour encourager les autres – to warn those contemplating the same – is already rising. This is European politics at its stupidest (also very much on display vis-à-vis Greece). The remaining EU should, instead, reflect on its obvious failings and fix them. Punishing Britain – by, say, denying it access to Europe’s single market – would only lead to the continued unraveling of the EU.

So what should be done? I would suggest several measures, both to reduce the risks of catastrophic feedback loops in the short term and to maximize the benefits of reform in the long term.

First, stop the refugee surge by ending the Syrian war immediately. This can be accomplished by ending the CIA-Saudi alliance to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, thereby enabling Assad (with Russian and Iranian backing) to defeat the Islamic State and stabilize Syria (with a similar approach in neighboring Iraq). America’s addiction to regime change (in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria) is the deep cause of Europe’s refugee crisis. End the addiction, and the recent refugees could return home.

Second, stop NATO’s expansion to Ukraine and Georgia. The new Cold War with Russia is another US-contrived blunder with plenty of European naiveté attached. Closing the door on NATO expansion would make it possible to ease tensions and normalize relations with Russia, stabilize Ukraine, and restore focus on the European economy and the European project.

Third, don’t punish Britain. Instead, police national and EU borders to stop illegal migrants. This is not xenophobia, racism, or fanaticism. It is common sense that countries with the world’s most generous social-welfare provisions (Western Europe) must say no to millions (indeed hundreds of millions) of would-be migrants. The same is true for the US.

Fourth, restore a sense of fairness and opportunity for the disaffected working class and those whose livelihoods have been undermined by financial crises and the outsourcing of jobs. This means following the social-democratic ethos of pursuing ample social spending for health, education, training, apprenticeships, and family support, financed by taxing the rich and closing tax havens, which are gutting public revenues and exacerbating economic injustice. It also means finally giving Greece debt relief, thereby ending the long-running eurozone crisis.

Fifth, focus resources, including additional aid, on economic development, rather than war, in low-income countries. Uncontrolled migration from today’s poor and conflict-ridden regions will become overwhelming, regardless of migration policies, if climate change, extreme poverty, and lack of skills and education undermine the development potential of Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Central Asia.All of this underscores the need to shift from a strategy of war to one of sustainable development, especially by the US and Europe. Walls and fences won’t stop millions of migrants fleeing violence, extreme poverty, hunger, disease, droughts, floods, and other ills. Only global cooperation can do that.
Jeffrey D. Sachs

High Level Roundtable ‘The Challenges of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: from Agreement to Global Action’


IMG blog

Over the years, there has been much debate about what sustainability means and what measures can track sustainable progress-or lack of it. In 2012, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio took a broad view that sustainable progress must cover all three dimensions that affect people’s life chances-social, economic and environmental.

Clearly, sustainability has to go beyond the protection of the environment. As the 2014 Human Development Report highlights, a more fruitful approach is to focus on the sustainability of people and their choices. Environmental degradation, wasteful consumption patterns, climate change all threaten the long-term survival of humanity. The challenge of sustaining human progress is thus about ensuring that present choices and capabilities do not compromise the choices and freedoms available to future generations.

But there is much worry globally and regionally that leaders and engaged citizenry are not producing economic and social outcomes that can be considered sustainable. The decade long Global Climate Change negotiations have proceeded fitfully. While recovering from the dismal outcomes at Copenhagen in 2009, the COP meeting in Paris last year represents a rare success in producing commitments to address the urgency of global mitigation and adaptation strategies so that the world’s climate can stay below the 2 degree threshold. The next Conference of the Parties (COP) that will be held in Morocco in November 2016 will move on trying to fix what is still to be done.

Equally, the agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UNGA Summit in September 2015 in New York represents potentially far-reaching progress with consensus on 17 global goals (with 169 targets) covering a broad range of sustainable development concerns. These SDGs covering the next 15 years, to 2030, are the successor goals to the Millennium Development Goals (till end 2015). This agreement builds on the principles agreed upon at the UN in an earlier GA resolution popularly known as The Future We Want. The 17 goals include ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change,

and protecting oceans and forests. And, for the first time, goals 1-6 directly address disparities among nations and people.

The Paris agreement on climate change and the global commitment to the SDGs are major steps forward in righting human society and the balance between man and nature, even if there remain critical voices that the goals are insufficiently ambitious and that they may remain aspirational. SDGs and the Paris agreement are major milestones in the global imperatives of moving towards a sustainable world. That represents the ‘what’, what is necessary now is to work on the ‘how’. There has been much less debate so far on ‘how’ to achieve these goals.

We know little of the specific policies that are now required to shift the current business models to one that promotes a sustainable economy and society. Economic policy for instance continues to be driven by the metrics of GDP growth rates. How will policies work in an integrated sense-can economic, social and environment policies work together? How can we devise incentives to guide consumption and investment behavior towards products and services that sustain progress? How do we harness technology more directly sharing norms and standards and for improving lives?

Both the Paris agreement and the SDGs highlight that global commitment has to be followed by global and national action. More so, efforts have to be made to influence individual behavior and action. How do we balance the three? Who takes the lead? Who is accountable to whom? What the ethics of sustainability?

All questions which require collective debate and action. There is now a pressing need for people themselves to push for sustainable pathways through their actions and decisions.

And, how do we measure sustainable progress? A critical test would be the institutional and goal tracking arrangements. Tracking that is amenable to citizen engagement and accountability.

The SDGs, unlike the Millennium Development Goals, are for the first time universal in character, applying to both developed and developing countries. They are also profoundly interconnected- progress in one area can have large consequences for the other goals. Achieving the SDGs requires nothing short of a dramatic shift in consumption and production patterns. It may well require as the June 2015 Papal Encyclical highlights ‘an ethical and economic revolution’ to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality.

All this means that these issues require continuous engagement- not just as preparatory exercises for specific events or milestones, but also long term political advocacy and civic engagement. A sustainable, stable world benefits everyone.

The creation of a significant Forum in Rome dedicated to sustainability issues and other related actions will be an important step in this direction and in meeting our collective responsibilities. It will also help position the city of Rome as an international base, and provide an opportunity for greater contribution by Italy and Europe to global solutions and sustainable practices.

A prestigious international Board of Advisors will guide the Forum. The Forum will be overseen and connected to the Universal Trust Foundation, which is currently under registration in Italy. On 10 May, there will be a ‘soft’ launch of the Forum in Rome.