Posted to the International Herald Tribune
Having had the privilege to live and work in more than 60 countries, I have been a participant in and first hand observer of the effects of globalization.
Let me share what I understand "globalization" to mean:
'The expansion of mostly large, multinational companies, introducing production, sourcing, sub-contracting, distribution, sales as well as research and development, to lesser developed (i.e. low cost) countries of the world.
It is the increasing interdependency and linkages of the financial, commercial, political and social systems of nearly all the countries of the world based on common standards, protocols, treaties and multilateral agreements.'
Whether "globalization" is a "good" thing or a "bad" thing misses the point. The fact is, unless the world reverts to a nationalistic, protectionist form of international commerce, globalization is a feature of our world and will remain so.
Therefore we should not waste precious time and resources on debating globalization but work on perfecting it so that the obvious inequalities that any change brings can be minimized and the positive aspects preserved.
There are far more examples of how globalization has improved health and safety standards, for example, than the often publicized negative effects. Sometimes substituting admittedly low standards, but still infinitely better than the absence of any standards at all.
There is a critical role for civil society to play, including trade and professional associations, to raise the global standard of living through education, training, health, safety and quality standards, and the dissemination of information so that as far as is possible, every individual has a similar access to information that allows them to be an informed participant.
None of this requires the homogenization of cultures; no one is forcing this change. Given the choice, people everywhere have repeatedly opted for more freedoms, greater choice, access to information, and self determination.
Globalization, properly guided by a set of universal principles, can deliver this to people everywhere without a loss of history, culture or unique regional aspects to their way of life.