Anyone who has followed international affairs closely knows that one distinctive flaw in U.S. cultural diplomacy is our public welcome pavilions at major world events, including the Olympics and the World Cup. Due to legislation in the 1990s, the U.S. Government does not fund these pavilions, and it is left to private donors—corporations and individuals—to be the face of U.S. culture at such events. Sometimes this leaves gaps, such as Olympic pavilions where the public is not allowed to enter.
Where is STEM Today?
Across government, industry, the non-profit community, and educational institutions, a consensus has been reached; the United States must develop a sustainable system that develops human capital equipped with knowledge and expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The commitment and passion for STEM transcends both political party and state lines, as it is the one public-policy issue Americans can generally agree upon. Our national security and economy are on the line, because without a steady supply of talented and innovative STEM talents, our ability to compete globally will be greatly diminished. There is a unique opportunity to seize upon the momentum built in recent years and transform discourse into solutions.
When most people think about the world of entertainment, first thoughts are typically of rock stars, book signings, Hollywood movie premieres, red carpets, and designer clothes. Rarely do the people behind the scenes of production come to mind. Technicians, editors, producers, hair stylists, and camera operators are just a few of the 2.4 million U.S. employees that make up the entertainment industry, an industry that contributes approximately $80 billion each year to the U.S. economy. And that number is nowhere close to what it should be. It is estimated that 750,000 jobs have been lost due to online piracy.
Warren Buffet once famously said that it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it, and if you think in those terms, you will do things differently. So what can companies do differently to prepare themselves to withstand the turbulence of those five minutes? At the end of 2013 there will be 1.4 billion people in the word with a smart phone. The internet and social media offer an immediate outlet for consumers to access company behavior and, in turn, drive the dialogue. This obviously creates many challenges for companies, but every point of engagement with stakeholders is an opportunity to move beyond trust and elevate their brands in a way that will sustain them in uncertain times. Think of this as building reputational equity.
FUMEC is a unique international organization. Born with the North American Free Trade Agreement as the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science, FUMEC’s objective is to make science, technology, and education key components of the North American Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda.
Across the globe, we are witnessing a paradigm shift in the way by which talent is sourced, trained, utilized, groomed, nurtured, and retained. This paradigm shift has been a long time coming, influenced to a large extent by the disruptive innovations of the 21st century. Some key catalysts that have accelerated this shift in the past few years are the globalization of markets across developed and emerging economies, a real-time connected and competitive world thanks to the advent of digital technologies, demographic shifts and skilled talent availability in fast growing economies (such as China and India), and intense competition to evolve and meet ever-changing customer needs.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are critical elements in the foundation of our global knowledge economy. Integrated knowledge and skills from these fields drive innovation in all areas of human activity—health, education, energy, communication, transportation, trade, and security, to name only a few. Our dependence on STEM grows day by day. We need a steady flow of talent for new innovation, applications to improve quality of life, and information to make us better consumers of new STEM products and services.
From protests in Brazil and Europe over rising costs, to the bankruptcy of Detroit, to sluggish growth in the U.S. and EU, and the potential slowing and rebalancing of the Chinese economy, there remain clear challenges to stimulating and sustaining a new round of economic growth in the Asian-Pacific region and the world. The diverse challenges, like those just mentioned (among many others that could be listed) may appear disconnected, but in fact, are not. Instead, the various economic challenges we face are interconnected symptoms of an underlying economic dynamic.
This year’s APEC Summit will provide critical recommendations regarding how the Asia-Pacific Region will continue to secure sustainable growth, development, and innovation given a growing world population. The focus is on innovation, technology, economic development, and job creation supporting economic prosperity, all of which are central to global development. New jobs need trained workers supported by advanced technology and an increasing focus on low-cost technology requires participation from a workforce with broader skills.
Walking through the corridors of the United Nations, the urgency of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by their 2015 target date is palpable. Social media campaigns such as #MDGMomentum, which marked the 1,000-day milestone until the end of 2015, have focused attention on a final push toward achievement. At the same time, conversations and consultations about what will come after the MDGs, known as the “post-2015 development agenda,” are increasing in intensity and frequency. When the MDGs were drawn up in 2000 as part of the UN Millennium Declaration, the process was fueled by discussions among world leaders and development professionals, informed by a variety of public consultations. Now, empowered by new technologies and global awareness raised by the MDGs, the UN is able to gather citizen input on a much larger global scale to help shape the post-2015 agenda.
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