Globalisation, Information Society and Sustainable Development:

The Promise of a European Way

What's new as of June, 2002

The political context of the new millennium in which these activities are taking place can be explored below under "Contextual links".

The European Way to a global sustainable Information Society is the cumulation of 4 years of conceptual work of the Information Society Forum (ISF) of the European Commission. The ISF, consisting of about 160 people of all areas of society, constitutes the main adviser for the Commission concerning a European Way into a global Information Society.

Recently the "European Way" has been mentioned in this abstract In November 1999, during the Information Society Week in Helsinki,, a principal ISF document on the topic was made available.

The work on the European Way had major input from a multistakeholder group which met in Germany for discussions throughout the year 1998, and developed basic principles intended to reconcile the paradigms "Information Society and Sustainable Development" with one another. Participants at the discussions included all political parties, industry, trade unions, environmental NGOs, women's groups, etc.

That activity culminated in the presentation of the principles at a high-level conference held that same year in Stuttgart, Germany, in the form of a document entitled Challenges 2050 which is now an Annex to the 1998 Status Report: Towards a sustainable information society. Some of the core ideas that emerged are also supposed to be visualized at Expo2000 and brought across to the public as the key issues for the next century; they include:

1. The innovation dynamics of a globalized economy are opening up great chances

2. Worldwide financial markets and trade systems are powerful instruments

3. However much depends on having reasonable framework conditions for the markets.

4. Our present framework conditions are not sustainable.

5. Will we succeed in agreeing on the right framework conditions?

The answer to a better future will probably lie in finding ways of preventing hunger, of getting principles respected such as the international instruments anchored in the Kyoto Protocol, of incorporating the concerns of employees including women in a framework agreed upon between North and South that will prove sustainable as regards future developments. This is the overall theme of global governance and includes multilateral treaties, agreements, etc. It will be in that context that the sustainability of the world will be decided; this will be the central political debate as we enter into a new century. Of course, Europe is called upon to lead in this context. The central issue might be the extension of the European concept of a social and ecological market economy to a worldwide level, e.g. in further developing the logic and framework of the WTO to address worldwide social and ecological concerns in a new societal contract.

The Info.Soc.and Sustainability have been themes in the European Commission projects ACTS, SID Chain and ASIS,

In the year 2000, the European Way is described in this official brochure.

Interview with Professor Radermacher during the World Telecom Internet Days at World Telecom. "The social contract",

Speech given by Professor Radermacher in Austria,

Our friend Allen Hammond is pursuing similar goals with his conference plans and new Website at

The G-8 Summit has accepted a study by the World Economic Forum in Davos that can be downloaded in Adobe Acrobat's PDF format from


Expo 2000

As a follow-up to the successful Stuttgart conference, the ideas in the "European Way" will be dealt with at Expo 2000, the World Exposition, in four ways:

As for the exhibition at Expo 2000 (third bullet point above), designers asked themselves:

foto ab.JPG (109040 bytes)Visitors to Expo 2000 will try out this experiment, first rising on an escalator to the year 2100, witnessing 20th-century challenges along the way: population, urban development, energy, climate, transport and water.

When visitors look down, they see examples of how these challenges were addressed in different parts of the globe in the form of an excavation revealing the past.



In many of the examples, it is some form of networking that reduces resource consumption:

Dakar is also the scene of one of two African projects that have won awards from the Stockholm Challenge, which developed out of the European Commission's Digital Cities programme:

The model of the future exemplified in the "European Way" combines market-based solutions with politically determined framework conditions. The relevance of  the "European Way" to attaining sustainable development will be the subject of the upcoming event.



An initial, invitation-only meeting of the Global Society Dialogue GSD is planned to take place from 1 - 4th October 2000. It will be held at a small castle, the Reisensburg, near GŁnzburg (between Stuttgart and Munich), Germany.

Update: The new official Website is now online,, and both the invitation-only and public events have been successes. Commissioner Niikanen spoke at the public event described next in this archive.

Then a second event will be held on 6th October 2000 farther north in Hanover as part of the Global Dialogue, Timewise, this second event will coincide with the online Global Dialogue, itself part of Workshop 21 II on "Future Works", .

The event on 6th October will be subdivided into the following three, parallel breakout workshops in addition to its opening and closing plenary sessions:

The entire programme is downloadable in Adobe Acrobat's PDF format here.

For additional details on content, contact Thomas Ruddy,, or Prof. Dr. Dr. F. J. Radermacher, Research Institute for Applied Knowledge Processing FAW, Ulm, Germany, email: For additional details on organizational issues, contact

Contextual links

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Updated 22.06.02