Worried by the fact that governments were unable to solve their most serious problems or to engage in thinking about the long term, an Italian industrialist, Aurelio Peccei, and a Scots scientist, Alexander King, decided with other likeminded people and citizens of the world to share their concerns, look together for solutions and pursue their ideas further.

Their aim was to tackle problems and future trends at both the local and global levels. They wanted to try to understand what was happening, and then to mobilize thinking people everywhere to take action to build a saner and more sustainable world. Bypassing ideological and political constraints, they appealed directly to the media and public awareness. Thus the overall strategy of the Club of Rome has been to construct its own philosophy gradually around certain strong beliefs.


In April, a two-day brainstorming session involving 36 European economists and scientists was held in Rome and gave the name to the Club. From that moment, each annual gathering, in a different country every year, was to attract new people with complementary areas of competence, such as specialists in social, exact and applied sciences, as well as concerned international decision-makers. A quarter of a century later, it is still constantly bringing in new blood. At present this world-wide think-tank has one hundred coopted participants from 52 countries who have the title "Members of the Club of Rome".

The following pages outline the main events, publications in several languages, applications of its ideas and consequences that have shaped the Club of Rome’s development.


In October, the Austrian Chancellor Josef Klaus invited the members of the Club to address the government, industrialists and bankers in Vienna. This was to be the first of many meetings of the Club of Rome with heads of state, civil servants, entrepreneurs, businessmen, students, etc.

Aurelio Peccei was appointed President of the Club.


At the invitation of the Swiss government, the Club of Rome defined a methodology and asked Jay Forrester and Dennis Meadows of MIT to create a mathematical model which could be applied to complex situations such as the world economy, the environment and urban growth. The Club of Rome drew up a list of 1000 variables to be included in the equations, focusing on five main topics: investment, population, pollution, natural resources and food.


Under the supervision of Dennis Meadows, a group of 17 researchers in a variety of disciplines from several countries produced a "Report to the Club of Rome": The Limits to Growth, written by Donella Meadows for a non-specialist audience. In all, 12 million copies have since been sold in 37 languages. The Report broke new ground because it was the first time that a global model on the predicament of mankind had been commissioned by an independent body rather than a government or a United Nations agency. More important for the future, it was the first to make an explicit link between economic growth and the consequences for the environment.

Jermen Gvishiani, a member of the Club of Rome and of the USSR Academy of Science, with the assistance of other members of the Club, presided over the foundation of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria. The IIASA, established by the scientific authorities from 12 countries, including the USSR and the USA, was the first attempt since the start of the Cold War to undertake joint advanced research on complex problems of international importance.


In February, at the initiative of the Club of Rome, Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky hosted a meeting on "North-South Problems" with six other heads of state or government. The two-day private brainstorming session produced the "Salzburg Statement", which emphasized that the 1973/4 oil crisis was simply part of the whole complex of global problems and not just a political one, as many then believed.

With Mihaijlo Mesarovic of Case Western University, Eduard Pestel, a German systems analyst, established a new global model that distinguished ten world regions and involved 200,000 equations integrating social as well as technical data. Their work, a major contribution to the Club’s progress, was published as a Report to the Club of Rome: Mankind at the Turning Point..


In October, the Club of Rome met in Algiers.

Reshaping the International Order by Jan Tinbergen, Nobel Prizewinner in Economics, was published as a Report to the Club of Rome. It suggested for the first time that the international order should be based on a better balance between rich and poor countries.


Club of Rome member Erwin Laszlo published Goals for Mankind as a Report to the Club. It stressed the human dimension, especially the differing cultural attitudes and values held by individuals, groups and nations. As cultural issues had not previously been included in global analysis, new goals for the Club of Rome were then outlined.


Mehdi Elmandjra, Mircea Malitza and James Botkin published No Limits to Learning. Their Report to the Club stressed that, although there are "limits" to a certain type of growth, there are no limits to learning and creativity.

Under Dennis Gabor’s supervision, a group on energy sources and technical change produced a Report to the Club under the title Beyond the Age of Waste. It was the first warning at the global level of some of the consequences which have only recently come to be acknowledged.


Adam Schaff and Gunter Friedrichs’ Report to the Club of Rome, Microelectronics and Society, for Better and for Worse was the very first assessment of modern working methods; it called into question computerization and automation, and their psychological, social and cultural consequences.

The Club of Rome helped to set up the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association. The HELMEPA provides training about the environment for Greek sailors and promotes awareness among the international shipping community, especially those concerned with tankers, and children.


March, death of Aurelio Peccei.

At the Helsinki meeting, Alexander King was appointed President. The post of Secretary General to assist the President of the Club was created and Bertrand Schneider nominated to it. The headquarters were moved from Rome to Paris.


Bertrand Schneider published the Club of Rome Report The Barefoot Revolution, which reconsiders the way aid and assistance from the North are given to the South. It emphasized the efficiency of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the Third World, where villagers - once given the chance to speak and act - can put their enormous potential to work, thus contributing to their local economic independence and, in addition, to their nation’s development.


The Club decided on a deliberate change of emphasis in tackling "the predicament of mankind". While maintaining the distinctively global approach, it chose to focus on particular aspects, sometimes even concentrating on a single major one.

Possible topics were then defined by Alexander King in his statement The Club of Rome - Reaffirmation of a Mission. These topics are: governability, peace and disarmament, population growth, human resources, and assessment of the consequences of advances in science and technology.

Club of Rome member Elisabeth Mann-Borgese published The Future of the Oceans as a Report to the Club of Rome. Its statements were to lead to the "International Law of the Sea".

Before the Rejkavik Summit in October, Eduard Pestel and Alexander King sent a memo to both President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, suggesting that the United States and the USSR might be induced to work together on reducing arms sales to poorer countries. Mr Gorbachev reacted very positively, and this led to crucial contacts during the period of glasnost and perestroika.

Similar contacts made by Adam Schaff in Poland led to the creation of a Polish Association of the Club of Rome, providing a meeting ground for members of the Communist Party, the Roman Catholic church and Solidarnosc.


At the Club of Rome meeting in Warsaw, a charter was adopted to put the National Associations of the Club of Rome on an official footing. Currently there are 30 National Associations spread across all five continents.


Beyond the Limits to Growth by Eduard Pestel and Africa Facing its Priorities by Bertrand Schneider are published in the Club of Rome’s "Information Series", which is intended to provide information rather than emphasizing policy recommendations.


The Annual Conference in Hannover on "Problems of World Industrialization" highlighted the environmental constraints on industrial growth, the problem of industrialization in the developing countries, and the essential role of energy in future world development.

Africa beyond Famine by Aklilu Lemma and Pentti Malaska was published as a Report to the Club as a consequence of the impact of the 1986 Club of Rome meeting in Yaoundé and Lusaka.


At the suggestion of the new President, Ricardo Diez Hochleitner, the Club spent the year re-examining the world situation and reassessing its own mission in the context of turbulent global changes.

Following the collapse of communism, National Associations for the Club of Rome were established across Eastern Europe, in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Rumania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine; National Associations already existed in Poland and Russia. In the course of the 1990s, Chapters were also created in Latin America (Argentina, Chile, Puerto Rico and Venezuela).


Meetings in Buenos Aires, Bogota and Punta del Este. After a one-year review, Alexander King and Bertrand Schneider published the first Report by the Club of Rome, The First Global Revolution, published in 19 countries. The views of members were sought via a questionnaire and were discussed intensively at meetings in Moscow and Santander. The Report redefined the Club’s priority concerns: development, the environment, governance, education and ethical values. It set out clearly the aims, strategies and initiatives for the future of the Club of Rome. In particular, it marked a turning point by putting special emphasis on the "resolutique" - on possible ways of responding to aspects of the predicament of humankind - and hence on action and concrete results, as well as reflection.

"The Black Sea University" was created by the Romanian Association of the Club of Rome. The BSU welcomes all categories of students from former communist countries around the Black Sea to follow courses, share their knowledge, ideas and study projects with professors and experts from the West.

At the instigation of the Netherlands Association of the Club of Rome, a "Declaration of Human Responsibilities and Duties" was proposed to the UN Secretary General as an addition to the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". This insists on the responsibilities and duties toward the different cultures of mankind, children, the disabled, the natural environment, as well as with regard to knowledge and information.


Meetings were held in the Japanese city of Fukuoka on "Global–Local Interaction"; in New Delhi on "The Fight against Underdevelopment and Poverty", chaired by Dr Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister of the Indian Government; and in Kuala Lumpur, with contributions from Dr Anwar Ibrahim, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The Club of Rome launched a research programme on "Evolving Concepts of International Cooperation for Development", followed up with working group studies around the world. Among topics for future investigation were "Education for the 21st Century" and "The Capacity to Govern".


At the end of the 25th Anniversary meeting the Hanover Declaration on "The Capacity to Govern", arising out of the Report by Yehezkel Dror, returned to one of the early commitments of the Club of Rome: to ask awkward questions and try to encourage governments to look further ahead than their day-to-day concerns. The difference with the initial approach is that the Report proposes a new political philosophy which can serve as the basis for redesigning governance.

The President of Germany, Richard von Weizsäcker, declared to a German newspaper: "The Club of Rome is the conscience of the world".

For a Better World Order, by Nicole Rosensohn and Bertrand Schneider, focuses on the way that rapid untrammeled growth in South East Asia has made the rich richer and the poor poorer. It also stresses the fact that, despite their new economic might, the voices of powers like Japan are not heard on the international scene.


The Club of Rome conference in Buenos Aires discussed Bertrand Schneider’s Report to the Club of Rome The Scandal and the Shame, which criticizes the waste and failures of development policies in the Third World over the last forty years and makes concrete suggestions, including the transformation of the World Bank and the UN agencies involved.


Two Reports to the Club of Rome on key global issues were published: Taking Nature into Account: Toward a Sustainable National Income, edited by Wouter van Dieren, with contributions by 24 experts on "green accounting", and The Capacity to Govern, by Yehezkel Dror (in German and Spanish).

The annual meeting adopted a different format, involving about 20 members of the Club of Rome and 25 students from a wide range of disciplines selected for the World Leadership Programme at Victoria College, University of Toronto. After preliminary study, essay-writing and panel discussions earlier in the year, the students met with the CoR members for three days at the end of November. Among other things, they all agreed that education must be more than just training, and must be interdisciplinary and humanistic even when it is for technological applications. In addition, work has more than an economic value - it also gives human beings dignity and value, so that we need to redefine society and the possible roles for people within society, rather than simply redefining work.


The Annual Meeting was held in Puerto Rico on "The World at a Turning Point: Signs of Hope, Priority Issues".

A new Executive Committee was created, composed of Ruth Bamela-Engo, Belisario Betancur, Umberto Colombo, Ricardo Diez-Hochleitner, Orio Giarini, Bohdan Hawrylyshyn, Alexander King, Yotaro Kobayashi, Eberhard von Koerber, Ruud Lubbers, Manfred Max-Neef, Samuel Nana-Sinkam, Bertrand Schneider and Felix Unger. It adopted the Brussels Declaration, which sets out the orientation and actions for the Club of the Rome as we enter the 21st century.

As part of its communications strategy, the Club of Rome set up a web site on the Internet, facilitating access to a much wider audience for the Club’s views and activities than traditional meetings and publications (for example, a discussion paper was made available on "Moral Values in Islam" by Bertrand Schneider). The site received 48,000 visitors in the first three months.

The German edition of a new Report to the Club of Rome, Factor 4: Target for Sustainable Development by Ernst von Weizsäcker, reached the German bestseller list. It has since been published in several other languages.

1997 and after

A Conference was organized jointly with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington on "Will the New Media Transform Society?"

Reports are imminent on "The Rediscovery of Work" by Orio Giarini and Patrick Liedtke, and "Normative Conflicts and Social Cohesion" by Peter Berger; another is in preparation on "The Multimedia Society" by Juan Luis Cebrian. A project on governance is under way, led by Ruud Lubbers. Future meetings are planned in Asia and Russia; among the topics is "A New Approach to the Threats to the Environment".

The essential mission of the Club of Rome is to act as an international, non-official catalyst of change, contributing to increasing understanding and, at times, jolting the system into action. The need for a centre of innovative thinking, especially about social issues, is becoming increasingly urgent - it should be able to identify new global issues before they appear on the international scene and then analyse them, to tackle their root causes, not merely (as so often) their consequences, and to encourage preventive measures rather than belated action. In the past, the Club has proved its competence in this role; it will do its best to continue to do so in future.

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