2014, Issue 171

Welcome to the
Club of Amsterdam Journal.

In this show we are talking about Changing Universities, political transition in the Middle East and North Africa and .... The Future Now Show

... and
join us December 12 & 13, 2014 for the future of Personal Growth.
The future often starts with changing yourself. Our event in December
is a think tank in which we pose urgent questions on the theme and develop knowledge. It takes place in Cataluna in Spain.

Felix F Bopp, Founder & Chairman


Change is inevitable - Confusion is undesirable

The Future Now Show

December Event: the future of Personal Growth

Drowning Prevention

Club of Amsterdam blog

News about the Future

Recommended Book: The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong

The Asian Square Dance - Part 2


Futurist Portrait: Cecily Sommers


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.Change is inevitable - Confusion is undesirable

by René Gude
former director International School of Philosophy,
former publisher Filosofie Magazine,
Denker des Vaderlands

A contribution for our seminar about
the future of Personal Growth.

'We are moving into an era of great uncertainty. We have never experienced the kinds of historical changes we are experiencing now. Frankly, no one has a clue about the nature of the new world order which is emerging. Experts are clueless,' - Kishore Mahbubani in a weblog 2010 - and he continues: 'And how does one prepare for uncertainty? How does one acquire the facility to do this? The answer is a Western liberal arts education.'

While the West, in the rush to stay ahead of the Asian economies, puts all cards on beta developments, Asians import Western philosophy as a critical component of coping with change and uncertainty. The West looks for 'new' and 'different' and techniques that change the world, while - under the name 'critical method' - we have made available a vast experience in research confusion. We can also preserve calm: Do not develop change management but confusion-management; excavate where we are already good at. In other words, do not change the world before you have your own confusion under control.

Problem in staccato:

1. Complexity is the result of one part change (historical changes) and one part confusion (great uncertainty, experts are clueless)

2. There are two standard forms to elimínate the confusion component are: "fast - " and "'slow re-acting"

a. The rapid method for dealing with uncertainty is Trial & Error. Better a wrong decision than no decision. No delay with the risk: too hastily.
b. A time-consuming way of dealing with uncertainty is to go Slow Thinking; first think (think about it) and only then take a decision. Procrastination (époche) with the risk: indecision.

3. The Critical Method - core component of Western philosophy - is an approach that makes Slow Thinking so efficient, that it hardly takes more time than Trial & Error. The crux is: once systematic thinking about how you think!

Before we are really prepared to concentrate on our thinking, we must free ourselves from the mistaken idea that 'thinking about our thinking' is a superfluous luxury. We must see clearly that our thinking is the unseen foundation upon-which our society rests, and that how we think today will determining what tomorrow will bring. (Polly Leer)

4. The Critical Method is a training in Critical skills with the knowledge-theories from the present (Nussbaum, Sennett, Sloterdijk) and the past (Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Schopenhauer, Wittgenstein) as practice material.


See through that any observation is theory loaded.

"You can never know easily the state of affairs itself. There is always a limited perspective, a one-sided view. So the question is: which perspective, which position. We always live in historically determined "Verkünstelungen
". - Herman Schmitz (2009)

- To understand that theory in our restriction is based on:

'The mind is inarguably impressive, but it is still flawed, or at in ways we scarcely recognize. For the most part, we simply accept our faults - such as emotional outbursts, our mediocre memories, and vulnerability to prejudice - as standard equipment. Our brains are a kluge (hassle), an ill-assorted collection of poorly matching parts, forming a distressing whole.' - Gary Marcus, Kluge - The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind, 2008

- Seeing that our restriction is limited (make a virtue of necessity), and to develop on that base a habit to not err.

.The Future Now Show

Shape the future now, where near-future impact counts and visions and strategies for preferred futures start.

Do we rise above global challenges? Or do we succumb to them? The Future Now Show explores how we can shape our future now - where near-future impact counts. We showcase strategies and solutions that create futures that work.

Every month we roam through current events, discoveries, and challenges - sparking discussion about the connection between today and the futures we're making - and what we need, from strategy to vision - to make the best ones.

The Future Now Show
November 2014

Simon Jones, Provost at Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan
James M Dorsey, Singapore
Humberto Schwab, Owner Humberto Schwab Filosofia, Spain

about political transition in the Middle East and North Africa and ...

In late 2010 and for some time after the Arab Spring raised hopes of an awakening in societies across the Middle East and North Africa of principles long cherished in ”the West” – human rights, social justice, equality and so on. What went wrong? Four years later the phrase “Arab Winter” has gained currency. Has it all turned sour or is it just the start of a long, painful, and possibly bloody, process with many years yet to play out? Has something in these societies changed irrevocably? Will the geopolitical interests of major powers, including those of the “free” and democratic West, stifle the nascent ambitions in these regions in the name of stability, as they have done in the past? - Paul Holister, Editor

about Changing Universities and ...

When you think about universities, Kazakhstan probably doesn’t come to mind. Yet it houses a university that has partnerships with prestigious universities from around the world. The incentive for such universities in many non-western and often non-democratic countries seems primarily economic – the Asian Tigers demonstrated the economic value of easy access to quality higher education. But questions arise. As higher education becomes increasingly a privilege in the US, what sort of economic shifts might result? How do these universities differ from traditional western ones, especially in societies where freedom of speech is more limited? Are they just turning out skilled cogs for businesses or people more broadly developed intellectually? Does involvement of prestigious western institutions help prop up autocratic regimes? Or is the long-term effect inevitably for the greater good? - Paul Holister, Editor

.December Event: the future of Personal Growth

Seminar in Spain

December 12 & 13, 2014

the future of Personal Growth
Friday, 12 December 2014 - Evening
Saturday, 13 December, 2014
09:30 am till evening
Location: Perelada, Catalunia, Spain

The Socratic seminar is a exciting experience of creating knowledge. The Socratic Design guarantees a process of values, listening, reflection and design.
You will be at your "best", free from addictive thoughts and open to other ideas.

You will not receive knowledge transfer but you will create yourself out-of-the-comfort-zone knowledge.

The seminar is a think tank in which we pose urgent questions on the theme and develop know-ledge. This knowledge will be directly translated into concrete road maps and future scenarios, or simply into new narratives.
It will be a whole day of dialog, brainstorming and creating. There are inspirators from Berlin, Amsterdam and Bilbao: Rosana Agudo, Mark Blaisse and Jan Bruch - who will not deliver speeches but participate with you all.

The seminar is designed by
Humberto Schwab, Socratic Design.

For content, please visit the event page

Please ask for seminar details and registration information without obligation:

click here

Or just send an email to and cc to

.Drowning Prevention

by the World Health Organization

Key facts

  • Drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths.
  • There are an estimated 372 000 annual drowning deaths worldwide.
    Global estimates may significantly underestimate the actual public health problem related to drowning.
  • Children, males and individuals with increased access to water are most at risk of drowning.

Drowning is the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid; outcomes are classified as death, morbidity and no morbidity.

Scope of the problem

In 2012, an estimated 372 000 people died from drowning, making drowning a major public health problem worldwide. Injuries account for over 9% of total global mortality. Drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths.

The global burden and death from drowning is found in all economies and regions, however:

  • low- and middle-income countries account for 91% of unintentional drowning deaths;
  • over half of the world's drowning occurs in the WHO Western Pacific Region and WHO South-East Asia Region;
  • drowning death rates are highest in the WHO African Region, and are 10-13 times higher than those seen in the United Kingdom or Germany respectively.

Despite limited data, several studies reveal information on the cost impact of drowning. In the United States of America, 45% of drowning deaths are among the most economically active segment of the population. Coastal drowning in the United States alone accounts for US$ 273 million each year in direct and indirect costs. In Australia and Canada, the total annual cost of drowning injury is US$ 85.5 million and US$ 173 million respectively.

There is a wide range of uncertainty around the estimate of global drowning deaths. Official data categorization methods for drowning exclude intentional drowning deaths (suicide or homicide) and drowning deaths caused by flood disasters and water transport incidents.

Data from high-income countries suggest these categorization methods result in significant underrepresentation of the full drowning toll by up to 50% in some high-income countries. Non-fatal drowning statistics in many countries are not readily available or are unreliable.

Risk factors

Age is one of the major risk factors for drowning. This relationship is often associated with a lapse in supervision. Globally, the highest drowning rates are among children 1-4 years, followed by children 5-9 years. In the WHO Western Pacific Region children aged 5-14 years die more frequently from drowning than any other cause.

Child drowning statistics from a number of countries are particularly revealing:

  • Drowning is one of the top 5 causes of death for people aged 1-14 years for 48 of 85 countries with data meeting inclusion criteria.
  • Australia: drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death in children aged 1-3 years.
  • Bangladesh: drowning accounts for 43% of all deaths in children aged 1-4 years.
  • China: drowning is the leading cause of injury death in children aged 1-14 years.
  • United States: drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in children aged 1-14 years.

Males are especially at risk of drowning, with twice the overall mortality rate of females. They are more likely to be hospitalized than females for non-fatal drowning. Studies suggest that the higher drowning rates among males are due to increased exposure to water and riskier behaviour such as swimming alone, drinking alcohol before swimming alone and boating.

Access to water
Increased access to water is another risk factor for drowning. Individuals with occupations such as commercial fishing or fishing for subsistence, using small boats in low-income countries are more prone to drowning. Children who live near open water sources, such as ditches, ponds, irrigation channels, or pools are especially at risk.

Flood disasters
Drowning accounts for 75% of deaths in flood disasters. Flood disasters are becoming more frequent and this trend is expected to continue. Drowning risks increase with floods particularly in low- and middle-income countries where people live in flood prone areas and the ability to warn, evacuate, or protect communities from floods is weak or only just developing.

Travelling on water
Daily commuting and journeys made by migrants or asylum seekers often take place on overcrowded, unsafe vessels lacking safety equipment or are operated by personnel untrained in dealing with transport incidents or navigation. Personnel under the influence of alcohol or drugs are also a risk.

Other risk factors
There are other factors that are associated with an increased risk of drowning, such as:

  • lower socioeconomic status, being a member of an ethnic minority, lack of higher education, and rural populations all tend to be associated, although this association can vary across countries;
  • infants left unsupervised or alone with another child around water;
    alcohol use, near or in the water;
  • medical conditions, such as epilepsy;
  • tourists unfamiliar with local water risks and features;


There are many actions to prevent drowning. Installing barriers (e.g. covering wells, using doorway barriers and playpens, fencing swimming pools etc.) to control access to water hazards, or removing water hazards entirely greatly reduces water hazard exposure and risk.

Community-based, supervised child care for pre-school children can reduce drowning risk and has other proven health benefits. Teaching school-age children basic swimming, water safety and safe rescue skills is another approach. But these efforts must be undertaken with an emphasis on safety, and an overall risk management that includes a safety-tested curricula, a safe training area, screening and student selection, and student-instructor ratios established for safety.

Effective policies and legislation are also important for drowning prevention. Setting and enforcing safe boating, shipping and ferry regulations is an important part of improving safety on the water and preventing drowning. Building resilience to flooding and managing flood risks through better disaster preparedness planning, land use planning, and early warning systems can prevent drowning during flood disasters.

Developing a national water safety strategy can raise awareness of safety around water, build consensus around solutions, provide strategic direction and a framework to guide multisectoral action and allow for monitoring and evaluation of efforts.

WHO response

WHO released the "Global report on drowning: preventing a leading killer" in November 2014. This is the first time WHO has developed a report dedicated exclusively to drowning. The report points out that drowning has been highly overlooked to date, and that a great deal more should be done by governments and the research and policy communities to prioritize drowning prevention and its integration with other public health agendas.

The "Global report on drowning" provides recommendations to governments to tailor and implement effective drowning prevention programmes to their settings, improve data about drowning, and develop national water safety plans. The report also points out the multisectoral nature of drowning and calls for greater coordination and collaboration among UN agencies, governments, key NGOs and academic institutions to prevent drowning.

At country level, WHO has worked with Ministries of Health in some low- and middle-income countries to prevent drowning through the use of barriers controlling access to water and the establishment of day care centres for pre-school children. In addition, WHO has also funded research in low-income countries exploring priority questions related to drowning prevention. At a regional level, WHO organizes training programmes and convenes workshops to draw together representatives of governments, NGOs and UN agencies working on drowning prevention.

Fact sheet N°347, Updated November 2014

Global report on drowning: preventing a leading killer

.Club of Amsterdam blog

Club of Amsterdam blog

Socratic Design
by Humberto Schwab, Philosopher, Owner, Humberto Schwab Filosofia SL, Director, Club of Amsterdam

The Ukrainian Dilemma and the Bigger Picture
by Hardy F. Schloer, Owner, Schloer Consulting Group - SCG, Advisory Board of the Club of Amsterdam

The impact of culture on education
by Huib Wursten, Senior Partner, itim International and
Carel Jacobs is senior consultant/trainer for itim in The Netherlands, he is also Certification Agent for the Educational Sector of the Hofstede Centre.

What more demand for meat means for the future
by Christophe Pelletier, The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

Inner peace and generosity
by Elisabet Sahtouris,
Holder of the Elisabet Sahtouris Chair in Living Economies, World Business Academy

... and many more contributions.

.News about the Future

Feldheim in Germany - The energy self-sufficient village
Energy supply to the energy-efficient village of Feldheim via private local heating and power grids

One of the most spectacular concepts for supplying enterprises, private households and local government with renewable energies on a decentralised, self-sufficient basis is currently being implemented in Feldheim, a district in Treuenbrietzen, a town in Brandenburg. The project owes its success to the excellent partnership between the municipality of Treuenbrietzen, the inhabitants of Feldheim and the project developer, Energiequelle GmbH.

Build your digital doppelgänger

"We can produce highly accurate body models and perform analysis on these models’ data. The R&D to produce these models allows us to compare, morph, animate, and average bodies."

“Everyone will have their own digital body model,” O'Farrell, CEO of Body Labs, predicts. “You’ll be able to upload the avatar to sites to, say, shop for your body shape on Amazon, or send the file to a ski company to order custom-made ski boots. You could use it to compare body shapes with matches on, to make sure that guy is as athletic and fit as he says he is.”

The platform can take incoming data, either measurements or from scanners, to create a highly realistic, anatomically accurate digital avatar of any specific human. “It could be you, or me, or a hypothetical prototype,” O’Farrell says, “and we can make that avatar run through any motion available, whether it’s running, jumping, kicking, or swimming, with full fidelity to the way a human really looks and moves.”

.Recommended Book

The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong
by Judith Rodin (Author)

Building resilience — the ability to bounce back more quickly and effectively — is an urgent social and economic issue. Our interconnected world is susceptible to sudden and dramatic shocks and stresses: a cyber-attack, a new strain of virus, a structural failure, a violent storm, a civil disturbance, an economic blow.

Through an astonishing range of stories, Judith Rodin shows how people, organizations, businesses, communities, and cities have developed resilience in the face of otherwise catastrophic challenges:

• Medellin, Colombia, was once the drug and murder capital of South America. Now it’s host to international conferences and an emerging vacation destination.
• Tulsa, Oklahoma, cracked the code of rapid urban development in a floodplain.
• Airbnb, Toyota, Ikea, Coca-Cola, and other companies have realized the value of reducing vulnerabilities and potential threats to customers, employees, and their bottom line.
• In the Mau Forest of Kenya, bottom-up solutions are critical for dealing with climate change, environmental degradation, and displacement of locals.
• Following Superstorm Sandy, the Rockaway Surf Club in New York played a vital role in distributing emergency supplies.

As we grow more adept at managing disruption and more skilled at resilience-building, Rodin reveals how we are able to create and take advantage of new economic and social opportunities that offer us the capacity to recover after catastrophes and grow strong in times of relative calm.

.The AsianSquare Dance - Part 2

By Michael Akerib

The Chinese remember something that has been mostly forgotten by other nations. Namely, that is only these last 150 years that the country has had the status of what we would call today a 'developing' or 'emerging' country. Therefore, from the point of view of both the government and its simplest citizens, the country is simply regaining its previous status of one of the world's largest - if not the largest - economy and the world's largest exporter.

Since it has done so, in part, by flooding the market with products sold at cut-throat prices, it has led to the destruction of millions of jobs in the 'developed' countries just as the Industrial Revolution destroyed millions of jobs in China and India.

Among its present accomplishments, China has the world's largest population. Population growth has been a traditional characteristic of the country and has led, in the past to famines and the consequent social unrest. The one-child policy, now becoming a two-child policy with the long-term objective of becoming a three-child policy, is a direct result of this chequered history. Even with the present low-growth population, the country needs to create 30 million jobs per year to maintain the rate of economic growth it has known over the last 20 years. The inability of the economy to grow may well revert the country to social unrest which the government could attempt to prevent through the encouragement of nationalism, perhaps to the extent of starting a conflict.

China's growth has been fostered essentially by the availability of abundant cheap labor which has attracted massive investments from foreign corporations. The salary increases, particularly in the coastal areas, and the migration of some of its workforce to Africa, have led both Chinese and foreign companies to either move their production sites inland, where salaries remain low, or to invest in Southeast Asia.

The Chinese economic model stands in a category by itself as state-run companies stand side by side with private enterprise. Both are export-driven and benefit greatly from the opening of world-wide markets that the United States and its economic allies put in place by fostering the globalization process through the GATT and later the WTO. One may wonder, however, if the model chosen - i.e. exporting low cost goods while importing raw materials at ever rising prices - is sustainable. Unless China will be able to innovate, particularly in high tech products, it will see a stunting of its growth. If, however, its industry does evolve into a high tech industry, it may face import limitations from countries that may suffer of a negative impact on their employment statistics.

President Xi's 'China Dream', with a first time horizon of 2021 followed by a second one of 2049, is, in a first stage, to raise income levels to those of middle-income countries, and, in a second stage, to that of the most advanced economies. 2013 per capita GDP was of USD 6'800, about 20% of US GDP. This figure, however, hides a middle class of 200 million persons.

The country also suffers from a banking system burdened by bad debts estaimated to represent 60% of all outstanding loasn. Loans of government, central and local, represent 45% of GDP.

China's economic power is felt throughout Asia, with all the countries of the continent economically linked to it and dependent on China's sustained economic growth.

The present recession, leading to a major decrease in exports, has led voices to claim that the economy is on the verge of collapse due to a forthcoming banking crisis and a bursting property bubble. Should it coincide with a massive epidemic, it would grind the economy of the country, together with that of many of its trade partners, to a halt.

China has also become the world's biggest lender with figures in the billions of dollars. Its lending activity in a large number of countries stretching from Africa to Europe while passing through Central Asia and Latin America, shows its ambition of replacing the domination of US and European institutions in the financing of infrastructure. Perhaps its most ambitious moves have been the creation of a banking initiative with Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa and an Asian Development Bank. The latter with a capital of USD 50 billion and will be in direct competition with the official Asian Development Bank and even with the World Bank. China will contribute 50% of the capital, the remaining 50% being paid by 21 other countries including India, Singapore, Vietnam and Qatar.

President Xi has also put a proposal called the SREB, for Silk Road Economic Belt, which is a model for South - South development. While centered on Central Asia, it involves a large number of countries, including some in Europe.

Countries may have to make the difficult choice between Chinese capital and Western technology.

China also runs the world's second largest military budget, with an emphasis on developing its naval capabilities - including submarines. It to not only wants to secure the hydrocarbon supply routes, but also aims to counter the US naval presence around its maritime borders. For the time being, however, it is not a credible threat to the US, particularly considering the latter's nuclear capabilities.

China feels constrained on its naval borders by the presence of the US Navy as well as by that of Taiwan, a US ally which the US has repeatedly stated it would protect in case of an attack. The only possibility for China to successfully conclude a military invasion of the island would be for it to move extremely rapidly so as to reach its objective before the US would have time to intervene. It would have to hold US naval power at bay with the precision weapons it is presently acquiring.

Taiwan is not the only country with which it is possibly in a conflictual situation. It has extended its maritime sovereignty, in the hope of finding hydrocarbon deposits on a string of small islands and rocks. It has thus taken a threatening position with Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam.

On its Northern border, lie the Central Asian states that were part of the Soviet Union. Their small population lies, for some of these countries, on major hydrocarbon reserves. They are natural suppliers of China and do not carry the risk of transport disruptions as is the case with the maritime routes. At least half of Kazakhstan's oil sector is now owned by China which has also built a pipeline connecting to Turkmenistan with the potential of extending it to Iran.

Further north, Russia is a major oil and gas supplier. Russia uses this growing major partnership as a threat to the European Union that has applied biting sanctions.

Extending its reach even further, China has become a shareholder of Total, the Franco-Belgian oil and gas producer.

President Xi sees the rise of China as inevitable in view of what he sees as the irreversible decline of the West. China's youth sees their future as ever brighter. Will the future include the Communist Party, at least in its present form?

Does a brighter future mean also the status of a world power and the demise of the United States as the hegemon?


Mark Petz talks with Anette Pekrul about - "the world’s First Holistic Multi-cultural Multi-Generation Collective Community".

See also The Future Now Show featuring Mark Petz

.Futurist Portrait: Cecily Sommers

A global trends analyst, Cecily Sommers speaks, writes, and consults on emerging trends, markets, and technologies shaping our future. She is the author of Think Like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn't, and What's Next and the founder of The Push Institute, a non-profit think tank that tracks significant global trends and their implications for business, government, and non-profit sectors over the next 5-10-25-50 years.

An unorthodox background in medicine and dance, combined with her experience in brand strategy and product development brings unique vision and creativity into her work as a Strategic Foresight and Innovation Consultant for Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller private businesses and not-for profits.

Cecily is a member of the Association of Professional Futurists and a frequent contributor to Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and other media outlets. She was named by the Business Journal as one of twenty-five "Women to Watch," and selected as one of Fast Company's "Fast 50 Reader Favorites." Cecily lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"Here is a quick look at my work as a Futurist, which has resulted in innovative, successful strategy for such companies as Target, Best Buy, General Mills, Kraft, Motorola, Nestle Purina, and Yahoo: First, I use a model I have developed that I call the Four Forces of Change - Demographics, Technology, Resources and Governance - as a predictive tool to see what the future you want to succeed in will look like when you get there. Then, I use the latest in brain science research to show how we are neurologically wired to stay stuck in the Permanent Present, a bit of evolutionary development that brings short-term comfort but kills creative--and hence long-term--thinking. The art of getting unstuck comes in the Zone of Discovery, where we approach the fundamental questions of strategy - Who Are You? and Where Are You Going? - through a set of activities I custom-design to manipulate you into a left-right-left brain pattern of thinking. And finally, the Five Percent Rule is a simple, systematic approach to incorporating long-term thinking into your work life without sacrificing its short-term demands."



Watch The Future Now Show!

Season Events 2014 / 2015

NEXT Event

December 12 & 13, 2014
the future of Personal Growth
Friday, 12 December
2014 - Evening
Saturday, 13 December
, 2014 - 09:30 am till evening
Location: Perelada, Catalunia, Spain

January 28, 2015
the future of
Collective Intelligence
January 28, 2015
Location: The Cube, Studio 5, 155 Commercial Street, London E1 6BJ
This is a collaboration between The Cube and the Club of Amsterdam.

Marchl, 2015
the future of
South East Asia
Location: Kuala Lumpur

April 24, 2015
the future of Metro Vitality
Aprll 24, 2015
This is a collaboration between APF and the Club of Amsterdam

May/June 2015
the future of ...
Location: Berlin

and more ...

Please visit the agenda for news!

.Special Supporters


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