June 11, 2014

The Oslo Dialogues

At the heart of any Performance Theatre there beats a series of ‘Dialogues’, where intimate groups of participants discuss topics connected to our overarching theme.

The Dialogues are held at inspiring venues across our host city, from historic buildings to new and innovative spaces, all connected to our topics.

The Oslo Dialogues will take place between 13.00-16.00 on Friday 13 June, including lunch.

Time and again, they prove one of the most memorable parts of the theatre, bolstering the main sessions and sparking creative debate and knowledge-sharing during dinner and beyond.

The Oslo Dialogues topics are:

Dialogue 1: Reducing inequality for empowering society

Dialogue 2: Long-term and ethical investing

Dialogue 3: The challenge of integration

Dialogue 4: Education and skills

Dialogue 5: Leadership in an age of wicked problems and wicked progress

Dialogue 1: Reducing inequality for empowering society

Wealth disparities, on both a global and national level, have been hitting the headlines recently, amid evidence that inequality has grown dramatically over the last few decades – the 85 richest people in the world now own as much as the poorest 3.5 billion.

Thomas Piketty’s book, ‘Capital in the 21st century’, has thrown more fuel on the fire by claiming that the unprecedented levels of inequality today are a direct result of free capitalism, and that inequality actively hinders the growth we need. Critics counter that some inequality is essential for economic growth. Others claim that inequality was an underlying cause of many of our recent problems, such as the financial crisis of 2008, the ongoing war in Syria and the resource curse in many developing nations. Within all this debate one thing is clear: inequality is a key feature of today’s leadership context.

This Oslo Dialogue will examine the debate around inequality more closely and consider what tools we can use to address it. The session will also consider how globalisation and the rise of social media add other dimensions to inequality, exacerbating associated issues such as health impacts, terrorism and economic instability while at the same time revealing new solutions through connectivity, the democratisation of information and widening access to education.

Pre-reads here and here.

CO-HOSTS

Jon Fredrik Baksaas, president and CEO, Telenor

Yves Daccord, director-general, International Committee of the Red Cross

VENUE HOST

Bente Erichsen, executive director, Nobel Peace Centre

MODERATOR

Jeremy Hillman, director, external communications, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

CONTRIBUTORS

Dr Rita E Hauser, chair, International Peace Institute, and president, The Hauser Foundation

The Right Honourable David Miliband, president and CEO, International Rescue Committee and former UK Foreign Secretary

Dialogue 2: Long-term and ethical investing

Markets have delivered unparalleled prosperity to humanity, but they do not always function in ways that benefit society. Criticisms have been growing. Take Lynn Forester de Rothschild, chief executive of EL Rothschild, who wrote recently in the Financial Times that markets “encourage a near maniacal focus on short-term financial results, tolerance of disparities of opportunity, and an apparent disregard for the common good”.

In particular, our growing resource and climate challenges demand the sort of long-term thinking that markets and institutions actively discourage. However, the massive global infrastructure deficit, amounting to some $1 trillion per annum, in power, water, transportation and communications, represents a huge opportunity, which some Sovereign Wealth Funds and other institutional investors, such as pension funds, are beginning to recognise.

This Oslo Dialogue will explore the barriers preventing institutional investors from taking a long-term view, and how can they be overcome. The session will seek to understand how investors can incentivise and support changes in corporate behaviour and consider how leaders in the business and investment community can move beyond ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ to drive real, substantive change.

HOST

Professor Merit E Janow, dean, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University and Chair, NASDAQ Exchange LLC

VENUE HOST

Yngve Slyngstad, CEO, Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM)

MODERATOR

Dr Gabrielle Walker, chief scientist, Xyntéo

CONTRIBUTORS

Frédéric Samama, deputy global head of institutional and sovereign clients, Amundi

Stephen Rumsey, chairman, Permian Global Advisors

Dialogue 3: The challenge of integration

From the Crimea to Scotland and Taksim Square to Zucotti Park, the signs of our society’s disintegration are becoming impossible to ignore. Polarisation and protectionism are on the rise. Idealism and optimism have given way to disparity, dysfunction and disillusionment. Global challenges such as the economic crisis and climate change are fragmenting our social identity, pushing our politics further apart even as they bind our fates ever more closely together.

In this Dialogue we will consider a range of questions fundamental to leadership with a human purpose. How can we be living in an age of unprecedented connectivity and yet experience such fundamental disconnect? As we stand on the brink of a new reality, of social and societal challenges that will increasingly confront us with cultures alien to our own, how can we avoid the traps of intolerance and fear and instead draw strength from that which is ‘other’? Can we achieve meaningful integration as a wider society that results in shared value, mutual respect and harmony?

HOST

Bawa Jain, founding secretary general, World Council of Religious Leaders

VENUE HOSTS

Åsne Havnelid, secretary general, Norwegian Red Cross

Sven Mollekleiv, president, Norwegian Red Cross, senior vice president of corporate sustainability and responsibility, DNV GL

MODERATOR

Saya Snow Kitasei, project manager, Xyntéo

CONTRIBUTORS

Reverend Dr C T Vivian, minister, civil rights leader, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and founder, CT Vivian Leadership Institute

Dr Mairo Mandara, country representative, Nigeria, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Sturla J Stålsett, minister, Church of Norway

Dialogue 4: Education and skills

India’s first Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote: “The highest education is that which does not merely give us information, but makes our life in harmony with all existence.” This may appear idealistic, but it conceals a hard edge. The right kind of education is key for achieving the transformational growth, and social impact, we so badly need. Yet there is a growing consensus that the systems and models currently in place are not fit for the future needs of a younger, impatiently aspirational, rapidly growing and technologically savvy demographic.

What can we as leaders do to address this? This Oslo Dialogue will reflect on the roles of business, government and society at large in developing future-fit education systems. The session will consider questions such as: is education all about employment? Can we achieve education for all, or will some always be excluded? Can technology play a role beyond being an effective mechanism of delivery? And perhaps most importantly, what can the current generation of leaders learn from the next about leadership for a (higher) human purpose?

HOST

Per Heggenes, CEO, IKEA Foundation

VENUE HOST

Anders Mjåset, founder and CEO, MESH Norway

MODERATOR

Ashish Bhatt Managing director, Xyntéo

CONTRIBUTORS

Laila Bokhari, state secretary, office to the Prime Minister, Norwegian government

Harry Brekelmans, executive vice president, Upstream Operated, Shell International Exploration & Production

Bill Drayton, CEO, Ashoka

Dialogue 5: Leadership in an age of wicked problems and wicked progress

Wicked problems are challenges that seem impossible to solve because of their extreme complexity. They defy easy resolution: intricate interdependencies mean fixes in one sphere can create trouble in another. We live in an age of wicked problems.

At the same time, we don’t have to look hard to see the true potential of human ingenuity. We have risen to formidable challenges before and, in some cases, leaders today are driving quite astonishing change, in everything from energy and power to communications and mobility. For all the wicked problems, there is also wicked progress.

This Dialogue will explore the intersection between wicked problems and wicked progress. Why are we not harnessing our full potential to solve the truly important, perhaps even existential, problems? The next decade could be our ‘Churchill moment’. Will our leaders rise to the challenge or will we continue to wait for ‘someone’ to act? Fed by views from a cast of leaders from business, government, intergovernmental organisations and academia, this session seeks to understand how we might support leaders as they try to change the game and break the dominant logic that holds us back.

Pre-reads here, here and here.

HOST

Osvald Bjelland, founder and vice chairman, The Performance Theatre Foundation, and chairman and CEO, Xyntéo

CO-MODERATORS

Veronica Lie, head of communications, Xyntéo

Rick Wheatley, head of innovation, Xyntéo

CONTRIBUTORS

Dr Angela Wilkinson, strategic foresight counsellor, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Professor Jason Bordoff, founding director, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University

Olivier Delarue, lead UNHCR Innovation, UNHCR

Karl Johnny Hersvik, CEO, Det Norske Oljeselskap

Remi Eriksen, group executive vice president and chief operating officer, DNV GL

Additional contributors: Dafydd Elis, senior analyst, and Emma Micklem, analyst, Xyntéo