Upon surfing through the internet the other day, I came across a few interesting questions that piqued my curiosity and poked me to deliberate on them a little more. This led to me sacrificing my natural sleeping hours, and deliberately taking the plunge into another episode of red eyes and dark circles!

The following questions on the screen flashed as I proceeded to scroll down for answers and clarity:

  • Why do you think leaders often have meetings together?
  • Are these meetings fruitful or productive?
  • Do you think that meetings between international leaders will become more frequent in the future? Or will there be less need for world leaders to meet?

Over the years, many commentators and journalists have called out several global summits for being just “talk-fests“. People have claimed that these summits do not actually produce results, they are places where countries come together and promise to do the things they “would have done anyway“.

However, as we observe from global news, the number of these summits keep increasing every year. There are summits with different objectives, and different participants. In 2019 alone, more than 200 global summits have been held in different parts of the world already. And this number does not count the numerous other summits and conferences that are hosted by non-governmental organizations, welfare societies, and youth movements.

So, coming back to the questions, have you ever thought what goes on in these summits? Whether these summits are actually helpful? Or whether there is a need for them?

An interesting article on Business Standard titled ‘Does the G20 Summit really make a difference? World leaders reckon it does.‘ , lays down some uncomfortable criticisms regarding global summits:

  • Participant countries come together and make promises and plans. But if there is a global issue to be solved, they would have taken action anyway.
  • Most of the times, these summits can be just “talk-fests”. Yes, sharing experiences is fun, but are they influencing the participants into taking action?
  • What about the humongous amount of resources that go into organizing these summits? Will the world save more if these meetings happened virtually?

The criticisms are numerous, but when you really look close and try to think, you might come up with counter arguments that provide reasons as to why world leaders keep meeting and why they are important. The author of the above stated article also backs this up with data collected from interviews with different politicians and summit attendees.

Here are a few reasons why I believe international meetings between world leaders will never slow down despite the surge of virtual communication, and why more of such physical summits are needed today:

  • A place to learn: Attending an international conference is definitely a strong place to learn new skills, research, perspectives and data. Attendees get to listen to a wide variety of speakers, interact with each other and hack ways to enhance personal skills and knowledge.
  • Network is Net Worth: By attending conferences, world leaders bring themselves in contact with a huge network spanning states, countries and even continents. This network is thriving with different experiences, contacts, help and support.
  • Feedback and go!: Conference attendees get to share their concerns with others, and together create strategies to combat those weaknesses. Hacking ways to growth is only possible when one uses the chance to share their stories, and ask for feedback from people who are experienced or have already achieved great results.
  • A chance to visit a new country: Leaders get to visit new countries, and explore people, places and cultures. They are united with each other for greater good, despite striking differences. Accepting differences in cultures is alone a strong force in forging world peace.
  • Representation: Attending global summits helps one establish a strong profile. Whether one is attending an educational summit or a cultural one, it is definitely an opportunity to represent one’s own heritage and also to present oneself as an active member of the global community. This is also helpful from an academic perspective.

For as long as global issues are present, summits and conferences will keep happening. It is important for the world to unite and hold hands. It is necessary that the world comes together, every once in a while, to take care of issues that affect humanity, and nature.

Hence, the question is not why leaders have frequent global meetings, but rather ‘How are such meetings helping the global society by forging ways for individual entities to excel towards a common goal?’  

What is your opinion? Share with us in the comments below.

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