Being part of the Global Solutions Summit 2019

Being part of the Global Solutions Summit 2019

By Fernanda Martinelli, doctoral student at ZEF in the  STRIVE – Sustainable Trade & Innovation Transfer in the Bioeconomy (

On March 18-19, Germany’s capital Berlin set the stage for one of the main encounters of global thought leaders in the realms of international policy and business: the Global Solutions Summit 2019.

Research organizations and think tanks from all over the world sent their representatives to discuss policy recommendations on major G20 issues and thereby contribute actively to preparing the Japanese G20 Summit in June 2019. In these two days, I experienced the big fuzz around the international affair’s world, ranging from strong speeches on keeping Europe together, shifting power (or not) to the East, to emotional debates on China’s role in Africa.

Here are my three hot takeaways I think you should know of before heading to your next international affairs conference (or to a chat with your mates about geopolitics):

The importance of youth engagement: if you thought this was a meeting of old white men discussing someone else’s country’s problems, this summit came to prove wrong: At least 90 young innovators (called “global changers”) were invited to not only attend the conference and participate in a two-day training, but (surprisingly) to be given priority in raising questions in each session. It was beautiful and inspiring to see the immense effort made by organizers to give young people, who are struggling to make a sustainable world for their generation, an opportunity to make their voices heard. They spoke at a discussion dominated by high-level experts and by questions that in my opinion seemed more like show-off comments than truly questions. And these young people were successful in making their voices heard – congratulations! Crossing fingers that this attitude may be widely spread in future conferences.

Data must be improved: that we need alternatives to measure economies and societies beyond the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is almost a universal consensus. However, what is less evident is how to do this. At this summit, sessions attended by most-renowned economists addressed the question of how to replace GDP with a more inclusive and robust measurement of wealth and well-being, which would still allow for comparing across countries. The OECD, World Bank, Social Progress Imperative and Bertelsmann Stiftung presented their alternatives and work in progress, but clearly there is still a considerable effort to be done to solve the challenge of developing measurements that reflect the reality of people.

“Together we do better”: Last but not least, this summit certainly strengthened the voice of multilateralism, conveying a message of hope to an international and diverse audience. For me, it was clear that this was the main point of the entire summit. Being aware that a globally rising populism is calling the benefits of international cooperation and negotiations into question, Germany’s Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel lifted her voice in favor of multilateralism. She called it part of the solution for overcoming most of the world’s current challenges, from climate protection to social benefits.

“Die Themen sind global und können nach meiner festen Auffassung nur gelöst werden, wenn wir die Welt als Verantwortungsgemeinschaft sehen.” Quote Angela Merkel



Above all, the summit brought not only international scientists and decision-makers together, but also proponents of a more inclusive, diverse and equitable world. Regardless the endless challenges in our political and economic system, in these two days, experts could keep their heads in the sky with both feet in the ground, presenting science-based solutions and concrete ideas of change. Perhaps we don’t need dreamers to make a better world, but yet thought-leaders who are willing to put the hands on the mud working for this. Are you ready to get your hands dirty?

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