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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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.