Welcome to everyone gathered in Jilin Province, China, for the Global Economic Leaders Summit 2011. I regret that I’m not able to join you all in person, but I am pleased to have the opportunity to share a few remarks.
Today’s interdependence has done much good. The global economy has lifted more individuals out of poverty than at any previous period in history. We have torn down walls, collapsed distances, and spread information and technologies at amazing rates. As embodied by the important relationship between China and the USA, the world’s people have much to gain by continuing to work together to build a future of shared values and prosperity.
However, interdependence also has its drawbacks. The unequal distribution of global resources is clear: Even as many are rising out of poverty, half the people on earth still live on less than two dollars a day, one billion live on less than one dollar a day, and a billion go to bed hungry. The recent financial crisis is a prime example of our world’s instability, and the rate at which our planet is warming imperils our future.
I believe the great challenge of this century is to move along the path of positive interdependence-creating more stability, equality, and sustainability in nations around the world. While governments must play a significant role in this endeavor, and enterprise is key, there are limits to what governments can provide and the private sector can produce. Our citizens must step up to fill these gaps, and that’s why events like the Global Economic Leaders Summit are so important. As you bring investors, business leaders, scholars, and government officials together to address some of the world’s most pressing issues, you will learn and benefit from a diverse array of perspectives, multiplying your impact in solving problems and meeting needs.
Many thanks to the men and women of the Asia-Pacific CEO Association and the Jilin provincial Government of China for organizing this event. People acting on their idealism are often the best agents of positive change, and this conference stands as testament to that belief. Best wishes to all of you for a productive summit.