from AMPP Website

To a degree, the Club of Rome epitomizes the world government movement’s general blandness, mediocrity, and mealymouthed words that jail. This is certainly true for such Club initiatives as the RIO Project ("Reshaping the International Order"). In his essay on chaos, J. Orlin Grabbe says,

The liberal’s preoccupation with social "problems" and the Club of Rome’s obsession with entropy are essentially expressions of the Second School view. Change, the fundamental motion of the universe, is bad.

Grabbe defines the Second School as those who believe that "Chaos is a Result of Breaking Laws" - a belief diametrically opposed to natural law, hence antithetical to the Innovist ethic, hence quite positively evil. That said, Grabbe has jumped the gun, as becomes clear upon a reading of Ilya Prigogine’s brief paper on uncertainty, included above.

I find myself actually liking the Club, from what I know of them. Many of the complaints lodged against the Club could just as easily be lodged against myself - for example, general indictment of the methods of systems analysis (I am, of course, a systematician). One of the Club’s founders was a real WWII hero, a partisan jailed by the Italian fascists. The Club seems to be populated, at its highest level, by people who are innocent of the many horrors orchestrated by elites in other superficially similar organizations of this century. After extensive exposure to frightening organizations such as Bilderberg, the Club seems disarmingly sincere and admitting of fallibility. The Club is mentioned by others in ominous terms, but this seems thoroughly uncalled for. Still, many of these Clubbers are the same sort of people who embark on well-meaning programs in the United Nations that often involve calamitous unintended consequences.

The Club of Rome maintains (or rather, forgets to maintain) a web site at, which seems a bit buggy and is littered with grammatical and lexical errors. The Club’s Executive Committee has a mailbox,



A novelist would probably reject the contacts and encounters that led up to the creation of the Club of Rome as too improbable for a good story. An Italian industrialist who has spent much of his working life in China and Latin America meets, via a Russian (although this is at the height of the Cold War), a top international scientific civil servant, Scots by birth and now living in Paris. They find they share similar concerns, become friends, decide to draw others (American, Austrian, British, Danish, French) into their discussions. Unfortunately, the first proper meeting of this group, in Rome in Spring 1968, is a total flop but a handful of die-hards carry on, and within a few years millions of people all round the world are talking about their ideas.

The Club of Rome is a center of research and a think tank, it is also a center of action, of innovation and initiative. The Club of Rome, founded in 1968 in Rome, is a group of scientists, economics, businessmen, international high civil servants, Heads of State and former Heads of State from the five continents, who are convinced that the future of humankind is not determined once and for all and that each human being can contribute to the improvement of our societies.

We, the members of the Club of Rome, are one hundred individuals, at present drawn from 52 countries and five continents.

Currently there are 30 National Associations spread across all five continents.

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.

As the 21st century approaches, there is a growing sense of uncertainty and anxiety. Faced by increasing complexity, dizzying globalization and a world subject to constant political, economic and social upheavals, human beings today are fearful. We appear to be in the early stages of the formation of a new type of world society.

Nothing escapes this tidal wave that carries all before it. Yet the greatest impact is undoubtedly on human hearts and minds. This why our aim must be essentially normative and action-oriented. We must develop common standards, based on a sense of our shared responsibility towards future generations. The basis of the new order should be an understanding that human initiatives and institutions exist only to serve human needs. Central to it should be values that cannot be imposed from outside but must grow as part of the renewal occurring within every human individual.

The essential mission of the Club of Rome is to act as an international, non-official catalyst of change. This role is prompted by the slowness and inadequacy of governments and their institutions to respond to urgent problems, constrained as they are by structures and policies designed for earlier, simpler times and by relatively short electoral cycles. This, in view of the confrontational nature of much of public and international life, the stifling influence of expanding bureaucracies and the growing complexity of issues, suggests that the voice of independent and concerned people, having access to the corridors of power around the world, should have a valuable contribution to make towards increasing understanding and, at times, jolting the system into action.

The members of the Executive Committee are frequently consulted by decision-makers in international institutions, governments, the business community and civil society; this has always been an important part of our work.

Aware of the importance of the information society, the Club has adopted a policy of world-wide communication, using all the means available, and most recently the Internet with our web site.

However, the Club itself tends normally to adopt a low profile, and the passionate debate sparked by "The Limits to Growth", updated by the authors under the title "Beyond the Limits", has been the only and unexpected exception to this desire to operate discreetly. We believe that we are sometimes more effective when we work behind the scenes.

Alexander King, as the "keeper of the ideology" from the outset, was inspired by the model of the Lunar Society of Birmingham: a group of independent-minded people (such as Wedgwood the potter, James Watt, Priestley the discoverer of oxygen, Erasmus Darwin) who dined together once a month towards the end of the 18th century and discussed the promises and problems offered by contemporary developments in science and industry. The Lunatics, as William Blake called them disparagingly, had no political power or ambitions, but they could see the interconnections between all that was happening around them and the potential for changing the nature of society. No bureaucracy, just thinking and doing.

Eventually the Club did have to draw up some statutes and choose a President (Aurelio Peccei), but that was all. It was decided to limit the membership to 100 because it was feared that larger numbers would become unmanageable and would necessitate a paid secretariat, hence all the usual paraphernalia of finance committees, etc. that they hoped to avoid. So that the Club should be seen to be entirely independent, financial support would not be sought or accepted from governments or industry. For the same reason, there should be no political affiliations or appointments - members appointed to political positions were expected to become sleeping members while in office (this happened, for example, for Okita and Pestel). Otherwise the membership should range as widely as possible, in terms of expertise and geography. A concern with the problematic, and the need to delineate it and understand its nature, was the main requirement for membership, irrespective of political ideology.

The majority ultimately decided that it would take too long and cost too much to develop the Ozbekhan model to the point where it would produce useful results.

Once again, the enterprise might have foundered; but once again, a deus ex machina appeared, this time in the shape of Professor Jay Forrester of MIT, who had been invited to the meeting. For thirty years he had been working on the problem of developing mathematical models that could be applied to complex, dynamic situations such as economic and urban growth. His offer to adapt his well-tried dynamic model to handle global issues was gratefully accepted, and the way ahead suddenly seemed less uncertain. A fortnight later, a group of Club members visited Forrester at MIT and were convinced that the model could be made to work for the kind of global problems which interested the Club. An agreement was signed with a research team at MIT in July 1970, the finance provided by a grant of $200 000 that Pestel had obtained from the Volkswagen Foundation.

The team was made up of 17 researchers from a wide range of disciplines and countries, led by Dennis Meadows. From their base at the Systems Dynamics Group at MIT they assembled vast quantities of data from around the world to feed into the model, focusing on five main variables: investment, population, pollution, natural resources and food. The dynamic model would then examine the interactions among these variables and the trends in the system as a whole over the next 10, 20, 50 years or more if present growth rates were maintained. The global approach was quite deliberate; regional and area studies could come later.

In a remarkably short time, the team produced its report in 1972: The Limits to Growth, written very readably for a non-specialist audience by Donella Meadows. The response to the book - in all 12 million copies have been sold, translated into 37 languages - showed how many people in every continent were concerned about the predicament of mankind. "The Club of Rome" had begun to make its mark, as its founders had hoped, on the whole world.

Quite wrongly, the Report tended to be perceived as presenting an inescapable scenario for the future, and the Club was assumed to be in favor of zero economic growth. In fact the projection of trends and the analysis of their cross impacts were intended to highlight the risks of a blind pursuit of growth in the industrialized countries, and to induce changes in prevailing attitudes and policies so that the projected consequences should not materialize.

Eduard Pestel was one of those deeply concerned about the undifferentiated global approach adopted in Limits to Growth. As a professional systems analyst (he had established his own Institute for Systems Analysis in Hannover in 1971) he was the obvious person to produce a better one. Accordingly, even before the Meadows Report was published, he and Mihajlo Mesarovic of Case Western Reserve University had begun work on a far more elaborate model (it distinguished ten world regions and involved 200,000 equations compared with 1000 in the Meadows model). The research had the full support of the Club and the final publication, Mankind at the Turning Point, was accepted as an official Report to the Club of Rome in 1974. In addition to providing a more refined regional breakdown, Pestel and Mesarovic had succeeded in integrating social as well as technical data. The Report was less readable than Limits to Growth and did not make the same impact on the general public, but it was well received in Germany and France, in particular.

Peccei persuaded the Austrian Chancellor, Bruno Kreisky, to host a meeting in February 1974 on North-South problems which brought together six other heads of state or government (from Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Senegal, Sweden and Switzerland), senior representatives of three others (Algeria, the Republic of Ireland and Pakistan) and ten members of the CoR Executive Committee. Peccei deliberately did not invite any of the major European powers, the USA or the USSR so as to prevent the debate turning into a forum for national or ideological position statements. To encourage the participants to speak freely, they were asked to come without accompanying civil servants and assured that nothing they said would be attributed to them. The two-day private brainstorming meeting ended with a press conference for 300 journalists and the CoR Executive Committee members issued their "Salzburg Statement", which emphasized that the oil crisis was simply part of the whole complex of global problems; the nine recommendations related to many of the issues covered in the NIEO.

Scholars from the First, Second and Third Worlds were invited to participate in the RIO project (Reshaping the International Order), but only Poland and Bulgaria accepted from the Communist bloc. The basic thesis was that the gap between rich and poor countries (with the wealthiest roughly 13 times richer than the poorest) was intolerable and the situation was inherently unstable. What would be required to reduce the gap to 6:1 over 15 to 30 years? (Though still large, this ratio seemed the lowest that could be realistically proposed.) Unlike Limits to Growth the model allowed the developing countries 5% growth per annum, whereas the industrialized countries would have zero or negative growth; all, however, would benefit from more sensible use of energy and other resources and a more equitable distribution of global wealth. The main Report argued that people in the rich countries would have to change their patterns of consumption and accept lower profits, but a dissenting group saw consumption as a symptom rather than a cause of the problems, which stemmed rather from the fundamental power structure.

Another new development was the decision to invite prominent world figures who share the Club’s concerns to become Honorary Members. Although their positions may prevent them from taking a public stance, as in the case of the Queen of the Netherlands or the King and Queen of Spain, they can and do give valued moral support. Among the others are:

  • former President Gorbachev

  • former President Richard von Weizsäcker of Germany

  • the first President of newly democratic Czechoslovakia Vaclav Havel

  • President Arpad Göncz of Hungary

  • President Carlos Menem of Argentina

  • Nobel laureates Ilya Prigogine and Lawrence Klein

As to the more private face of the Club, the personal diplomacy always practiced by members was given new impetus by the gradual thaw in East-West relations after 1985. Two examples are particularly striking. Before the Rejkavik Summit in October 1986, 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 - the superpowers would gain politically, if not economically, from such efforts, and they would benefit from the experience of actually working together. The response from the White House was perfunctory, but Gorbachev immediately reacted very positively, and this led to personal contacts between the Club and the Soviet leadership during the crucial period of glasnost and perestroika. Similar contacts made by Adam Schaff in Poland led to the creation there of a National Association of the Club of Rome, providing a meeting ground for members of the Communist Party, the Roman Catholic church and Solidarity.

Following the collapse of communism, National Associations for the Club of Rome were established across Eastern Europe, in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Rumania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine; National Associations already existed in Poland and Russia. Chapters were also created in Latin America (Argentina, Chile, Puerto Rico and Venezuela). Currently there are 30 National Associations spread across all five continents.


  • Ricardo Diez Hochleitner, Président

  • Bertrand Schneider, Secretary General

  • Ruth Bamela Engo-Tjega, President of African NGO

  • Belisario Betancur, ex-President of Colombia

  • Umberto Colombo, ex Minister of Research and Universities of Italy

  • Orio Giarini, Secretary General of the Geneva Association

  • Bohdan Hawrylyshyn, Chairman,Council of Advisors of the Parliament of Ukraine

  • Alexander King, co-founder of The Club of Rome

  • Yotaro Kobayashi, President of Fuji Xerox

  • Eberhard von Koerber, President of ABB Europe

  • Ruud Lubbers, ex-Prime Minister of the Netherlands

  • Manfred Max-Neef, Rector, Universidad Australe de Chile

  • Samuel Nana Sinkam, FAO Director for Congo

  • Ilya Prigogine, Nobel Laureate, Professor, Université Libre of Bruxelles