“Sustainable development principally means development of people. We mustn’t forget that.”
What does the fifth edition of the Open Eyes Economy Summit teach us?
We have been through the total of three days of the fifth edition of the Open Eyes Economy Summit – International Congress of the Economy of Values. A year of intensive work, operation in untypical and unpredictable conditions, incredible support and assistance that came from everywhere – this year has resulted in something that has gone beyond our dreams: OEES has become the largest remote event in Poland. It was participated by as many as 3,000 people, including 160 speakers. From 27 countries! We still recall such numbers with excitement. Conclusions include various data and reflections, and we reflect on the lessons drawn from the fifth edition of OEES.
Return to “Normal”
The crisis caused by COVID-19 has made us face many restrictions – not only in the professional, but also in the social and private dimensions. Many of us wonder when they will be able to meet their friends again “in town” or go to a concert. Restrictions during the holidays or vacation are sad, and the omnipresent uncertainty is even more limiting than the mask and protective gloves. All this makes us recall the seemingly unrestricted and idyllic life from before the pandemic. Every now and then, the media publish statements by experts who forecast the comeback of the so often recalled “normal”. What do they, however, consider “normal”? And, after some consideration, do we really want to go back there? Professor Muhammad Yunus, laureate of the Peace Nobel Prize attempted to find an answer to the question during the session opening the fifth edition of the Open Eyes Economy Summit:
‘Why should we return to the situation before the pandemic? The world before the pandemic was not a good world, it was an awful world. It was the world of global warming, the climate crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has stopped the train speeding to perdition. Now, we have the opportunity to get off that train and avoid the disaster. People are the most endangered species,’ – said Professor Yunus during the opening session.
This important remark has stimulated us to reflect on the matter. Perhaps, indeed, nothing will be as it used to be? Perhaps this is an unexpected opportunity to make up for the delay in a short time and to make good for our mistakes, both in the aspect of natural environment conservation, and the organisation of our lives and the system we live in. We are very optimistic in this respect.
Caring about Development
The main theme of this year’s Open Eyes Economy Summit was “Imagine”. We encouraged you to free your imagination and paint your imagined world. In our vision, this is a world of societies in solidarity who have managed the climate crisis and sustainably use the natural resources. Sustainable development itself has been the theme of the entire Congress, and we believe that the key observation in this context was made during the opening session by Irina Bokova, former General Director of UNESCO:
“Sustainable development principally means development of people. We mustn’t forget that. We must not rely on business development alone” – said Bokova.
It can be stated that business development is founded on human development, as employee competences form a major part of company’s capital. But are we really developing the right area? The pandemic has shown that, as the society, we deal with a clear deficit in areas such as: empathy, interpersonal skills, or solidarity. Skills and competences that, according to various reports on the future labour market, will be the most desirable in several dozen years, seem to be filling some niche only at present. We are intensively working on extending our cognitive apparatus, developing logical thinking, consistently extending the life virtualisation area, and digital competences, forgetting about the features that form the essence of our humanity. And here, empathy seems of major importance in the context of the growing problem of increasingly more violent political war, whereby ambitions of a tiny group of people are achieved at the detriment to the entire society. The ability to adopt the perspective of another person, the will to understand one’s motives, aspirations, and feelings – these are the foundations of society based on solidarity. There, we are but a step away from solidarity development we discussed during a whole day at this year’s OEES in the CITY-IDEA block:
“Democracy needs such a sociology that is objective and does not serve
any particular ideology.” – said Professor Michel Wieviorka, Director of the Centre of Sociological Analysis and Intervention, during his speech.
He was supported by Anna Strzałkowska, PhD, from the University of Gdansk:
“We have not done the homework on solidarity democracy. We must carefully listen to the needs of minorities to build true community. Now, we deal with a rather tribal society – a tribe being a group of interest that provides security to its own alone. We must move away from this scheme.”
In the context of solidarity development, the session on climate solidarity proved particularly important, as well as the path “Anthropocene – World Management” devoted to ecology and environment conservation. It was during the session that Professor Michael Roos from the Ruhr Universität, Bochum shared an important observation with us:
“At the level of actual growth factor, stagnation is observed. We should pay special attention to what has not been included in GDP, such as costs of pollution, family changes – negative aspects of growth that must be deducted from GDP. Something has gone wrong – we must rethink our economic system from anew.” said Professor Michael Roos.
OEES via the Internet as at the Congress Centre
International Congress of Economy of Values is a contemporary agora, and we know the agora is noisy, with numerous people having heated discussions. How to transfer this atmosphere into the virtual world? We dare say that we managed to achieve this owing to development of a platform extended to meet the needs of the Congress. Its core was formed by four parallel live transmissions from the stages at the Congress Centre. Nevertheless, in order for participation in OEES was not limited to simply listening to the speakers, we cared to have a space for integration and communication, including with other participants to the Congress and the speakers. It comprised 19 stands of our partners, as well as the networking zone with five theme tables. During the breaks, the #positivethinkers were accompanied by the live studio, and they could buy the books by our speakers at the virtual book shop to get acquainted with the scientific background of the economy of values.
All this made our meeting in November one of the kind. We can now proudly say that our agora is not only state-of-the-art (because it uses the latest technological achievements), but also global!
Open eyes, mind, and heart
Open Eyes Economy Summit is often referred to as the Open Eyes Congress. From the very beginning, we attempt to promote open and interdisciplinary approach to the world. We care for that while drafting the agenda and inviting the guests – we also want them to have “different things floating their boats.” ‘The precondition for dialogue is to accept the difference,’ as Professor Jerzy Hausner, Chair of the OEES Programme Council wrote in his report Państwo i my. Osiem grzechów głównych Rzeczypospolitej [The State and Us. Eight Cardinal Sins of the Republic of Poland]. The process is well visible during the congress slam battles where parties with different views are confronted, and we have the impression they leave the site with new experiences. ‘The development of Polish schooling relies on principals with open minds and developed social competences,’ said Oktawia Gorzeńska from the Educational Leadership Academy during the path “Education– New Generation”, whereas the understanding for the secondary school student Zuzia Karcz, gathered minutes later from Przemysław Staroń, nominated for Global Teacher Prize 2020, seems to confirm this. Openness as such was also touched upon in the concluding speech by Professor Jerzy Hausner, who pointed out that there is no true ethics in a closed social space-time, and stressed the role of imagination necessary to effectively open such social space-time. Openness seems to be of major importance in the context of building a solidarity-based society or counteracting crisis. Will living in closure encourage that? Many people say that this has made them closer to themselves, and being closer to one’s true self means being closer to the others. One must simply perceive oneself in the eyes of the other.
We wish to thank you all for your attendance – not only during the Congress, but also during the IDEA Stops, the “Openly Speaking” series, or simply in the virtual space, in the news and comments. We have a strong feeling that this year has been a breakthrough in thinking about the world. And this feeing, together with your support, gives us lots of energy to work on the next edition.
We wish you good health, smile, and good humour. We are looking forward to sharing all our plans for 2021.
See you there!
The OEES Team
The fourth, record edition of the Open Eyes Economy Summit in Krakow
3000 participants and 200 speakers coming from 6 continents have met in Krakow! The Open Eyes Economy Summit 2019 – an international congress of the economy of values – has come to an end, leaving behind not only important answers to puzzling questions but, first of all, the idealists who wish to change the world for the better.
Two days filled with constructive discussions, exchange of thoughts, experiences and inspiring meetings with people who are open to dialogue and to one another. In the ICE Krakow Congress Centre, recognised specialists from various areas discussed issues bothering modern societies such as climate change, overtourism, technology, textile industry responsibility, labour market and social values. The discussions were divided into four thematic blocks: COMPANY-IDEA, BRAND-CULTURE, CITY-IDEA and INTERNATIONAL GOVERNANCE.
– I want to make a sentence that has been reminded by Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś, and whose author is Fr. Józef Tischner, a message – “Solidarity is possible only among the people of conscience.” It is an insight into the problem of the importance of values in a different context than the one we usually discuss. We discuss something that is more collective as it is related to business activities. Here, we have a reference to a person, in a more individual and personal sense. It seems to me, though, that it needs to be considered together, i.e. to show that we need the solidarity in the development for the economy of values. However, if this solidarity is to become a fact, it is possible only among the people of conscience. Among the people who consider the ethical dimension of their activities as important as anything else. – said Professor Jerzy Hausner, the Chairman of the OEES Program Council, about the economy of values.
The celebrated opening of the congress was accompanied by a passionate speech by Alberto Acosta – the former Minister of Power and Mining in Ecuador – who, due to his activities for the benefit of the Yasuní National Park, has become a symbol of the fight for nature, not only in his country but also all over the world. In his opening speech, he drew attention to the responsibility for the common good and called for the opening of the eyes and hearts. During the opening session there were also speeches by Nancy Githaiga from WWF Kenya and Professor Andreas Novy from the University of Economics in Vienna. David Throsby also appeared on the scene, asking deceitfully whether the economics is still able to tell us something useful.
The further sessions: The values and their linguistic representations in public persuasion by Professor Jerzy Bralczyk, Is greed good? by Szymon Hołownia and The three voices on the Tri-City with the participation of the Mayors of Sopot, Gdynia and Gdansk, moderated by Mateusz Zmyślony, turned out to be highly popular. During the congress there were also confrontations, held in so-called battle points, where fierce discussion were attended by, among others, Aleksander Smolar, Ludwik Dorn, Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz, Krzysztof Łapiński, Fr. Adam Boniecki and Professor Magdalena Środa.
During this year’s OEES edition, the hosts presented subsequent publications of the OEES publishing – The Open Eyes Book 4 and The Open Eyes Magazine 4. Additionally, each participant received “An Idealist’s Set” which included a certified T-shirt with an “IDEAlist” print, a Fairtrade cotton tote and a water bottle manufactured on the basis of sugar cane.
The Open Eyes Economy Summit is a huge “vortex” – as one of our participants called it. A vortex that draws you in, involves and actually changes. Thousands of thoughtful people from all the kinds of possible environments, industries and disciplines mix here in a fascinating way – concluded Mateusz Zmyślony, the Creative Director of the OEES.
Apart from the summit itself, the Open Eyes Festival, i.e. artistic projects organised around the congress, is held every year. Within this year’s edition the events included, among others, an exhibition entitled “Wiesław Dymny – I am a wounded man. A writer, an actor, a painter”, a spectacle entitled “Dymny” and directed by Krzysztof Materna, a session entitled “The artist changes the world – Maurycy Gomulicki” which was accompanied by the presentation of the artist’s works, an exhibition “Space for Art” by Ryszard Otręba and a screening of “The Calamity of Abundance” movie accompanied by a meeting with Ewa Ewart and Alberto Acosta.
The host of the fourth edition of OEES is the City of Krakow, and the Main Partner – The Malopolskie Voivodeship. The main media patrons of the event include Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, Interia.pl and RMF FM.
The most important thing in memories is to have somewhere to stop and remember them – wrote Terry Pratchett in “The Light Fantastic”. Even though we do not stop as we are already working on the next edition, however, with the memory of the third edition of the blue revolution, between arranging the meetings, writing e-mails and answering phone calls, we were overwhelmed with a moment of reflection. What was the third OEES like? Certainly, game-changing. Educative. Motivating to action. Last year brought a lot of changes in various areas. The scandal with the Facebook users’ personal data leakage, the increasing misinformation and the abundance of fake news, the polarisation of society, animal migrations caused by climate change and record heat all over the world – we have to face new problems. We have no choice but to face the challenge. We have understood that we should respond quickly to these changes and act. Therefore, not only we do not slow down the pace, but we are gradually turning it up, remembering the third edition of the Open Eyes Economy Summit in the meantime.
The first day of the OEES was full of educational speeches, efficient meetings and inspiring discussions. A great opening was ensured by The Art Color Ballet which amazed everyone with the spectacle entitled “The Amber Tree”. The fairy-tale character of the performance was emphasised by the main stage scenery – a tree made in the string art technique by Krakow artists which accompanied our guests until the end of the Congress. During the inaugural session, inspirational speeches were delivered by the Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin, Luca Jahier, Professor Jacqueline Cramer, Professor Shalini Randeria and Professor Jacek Purchla, who talked about universal values and issues important from the point of view of a conscious member of society. The following hours brought, among others, a speech by Helen Brand, who answered the question: “Will money eat everything in the near future?”, an engaging discussion: “Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix – four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?” between Jacek Kotarbinski and Jan Zajac, as well as an inspiring session with the participation of Cecylia Malik: “The Artist Changes the World” which provoked a lively and passionate discussion. The slam-battle of Robert Biedron and Wadim Tyszkiewicz, who were wondering what was more important for the society – culture or infrastructure, was also very popular among the audience.
-The third edition of the OEES became a mature meeting of an intellectually ambitious audience characterised by great commitment. The uncompromising programme was the main advantage of the summit. At the same time, it managed to preserve its characteristic features: intergenerationality, multidisciplinarity and positive atmosphere – said Mateusz Zmyslony, Creative Director of the OEES.
The second day lectures started with Adam Bodnar’s speech “The State and Citizen”. The audience was also interested in Jennifer Morgan’s speech about actions to be undertaken in order to improve the climate and protect our planet. An interesting lecture was given by Professor Zhu Wenyi, talking about water in urban space. A unique event that attracted a large audience was a special session “Little Black Big Thing”. We screened a movie, our production, about the coffee supply chain and production in Rwanda “The Second Sunrise. Coffee and Rwanda”, being one of our greatest successes. Additionally, Open Cafe points were available to the participants for two days in the festival venues, where baristas served various types of coffee from around the world. At the end of the second day of the festival, we were visited by the Czech duo – David Cerny and Tomas Sedlacek, who talked about the values that shape society in the 21st century.
-The world mainly focuses on the central understanding of time that flows in a closed circuit, where faster and faster can mean more and more, but in the core, it actually means getting worse. That is why we need a social space for economic activity in which we take the responsibility for the future. Development does not depend solely on one mechanism or on one dimension. It depends as much on culture as it does on finances, on education as well as on productivity and innovation – concluded Professor Jerzy Hausner, the Chairman of the OEES Programme Council.
The echoes of the third edition of the Open Eyes Economy Summit can be still heard. We want to thank anyone who contributed to our “blue building”, thanks to which with the third edition we have built really solid foundations, we have raised thick walls and we are starting to build the first floor. We know that together we are changing the world and are opening our eyes more and more. We hope to see you in November during the next edition of the Open Eyes Economy Summit! We can assure you today – the heat will go on!
As the inhabitants of our planet, we are at the crucial moment. We are facing challenges and threats related to the shortage of resources of traditional raw materials, ecological disasters, climate change, social unrest and the threat of closing borders. We, our political and intellectual leaders, do not have a ready answer to the question of how to face the future. We want to change reality for the better. We want to have an impact on the world we live in. We want to contribute to it consciously. We want to live in better cities, buy from responsible companies, and associate with brands that create valuable culture. We want to be sensitive to social issues, ecology and practical solutions. Together with you, we want to create an event that we will all be truly proud of. A significant and bold event, defying routine, inquisitive and optimistic. And realistic. An event that brings the actual change.
During the first congress in 2016, along with 1,400 participants and over a hundred speakers, we certainly managed to create what is definitely the most unique – the atmosphere. The unique ambience was created both by students and ministers, by social activists and government prime ministers, by non-governmental organisations and large corporations, by intellectuals, journalists, scientists and entrepreneurs who contributed to the fascinating course of disputes, lectures and discussions in the lobby. Together, we were able to discuss many issues, to ask many difficult questions and, which is more important, to start finding answers to them. We have no doubt that the first and subsequent editions of the OEES have a chance to become a pebble that will move an avalanche. Values are necessary to achieve it. We think and talk about them more and more often. We feel that we are losing what we have valued so much: solidarity, stability and security. Will we ever get them back? The longing and declarations of attachment to values are not followed by the awareness of how the values are created or how each of us can generate them.
The Open Eyes Economy is an intellectual movement focused on values, including the economic ones. The Open Eyes Economy Summit is the culmination of year-round intellectual and organisational work and a review of its results. We undertake a discussion to determine the value creation process specific for each organisation or structure as the universal solutions do not exist. During the summit, we address such concepts as the company-idea or the city-idea. We want to capture the idea of the organisation’s operation and offer pro-developmental solutions in particular sectors, depending on the specifics of the entity. A universal idea and personalised solutions. The Open Eyes Economy Summit is a mountain we are climbing to see the paths based on values and leading to development from the top. You cannot reach the summit without undertaking efforts. Therefore, year by year, we want to climb even higher, in a larger group, organising seminars and conferences, both in Poland and abroad, gathering all those who want to improve the condition of the economy. We are taking the path towards development in order to discover different perspectives and propose practical solutions. The discussions about them cannot be carried in the isolation from the European context. As an intellectual movement of a new idea, we would like to invite you to a journey into the future. A journey where the values - the foundation of our activities – are of paramount importance.