A decade of globalization and trade liberalization have destroyed the environment and people's livelihoods, undermined democracy, and increased violence. Contrary to what is projected, globalization is not a natural, inevitable phenomenon to which there is not alternative. Alternatives are not just possible, they are necessary to ensure sustenance of humans and other species, and to ensure peace and democracy. Held just days before the World Trade Organization ministerial that became known as "The Battle in Seattle," Parkland Institute's 3rd Annual Fall Conference featured Dr. Vandana Shiva and Naomi Klein.
As national markets are deregulated and economic borders are erased, decisions as to how the earth's life-sustaining resources are preserved are passing to corporations and financial institutions concerned primarily with maximizing short-term profits. Amidst this bleak scenario, many citizen groups are reaching out to form alliances committed to addressing root causes of the growing crisis of globalization and an emergent social movements is coalescing around a common vision of a world of diverse cultures and just and sustainable communities living in balance with the natural world. Featuring keynote speaker David Korten, Parkland Institute's 2nd Annual Fall Conference analyzed these dynamics.
Public policy in Alberta and, more generally, in Canada, has experienced a sea-change in recent years. In particular a shrinkage in public sector functions has given way to an increased role, in both policy formation and implementation, for private sector organizations. The implications of these changes are still unclear. However, at least some authors, such as conference keynote John Ralston Saul suggest that a corporatist model of governance has emerged which is incompatible with a healthy democracy. Parkland Institute's first conference addressed these and other complementary ideas and concerns.