50th St. Gallen Symposium "Freedom Revisited": 7–8 May 2020

EDIT HEADER

We need to talk

Welcome to the 49th St. Gallen Symposium. We – Lia, Elisabeth and Severin – are incredibly happy to represent the International Students’ Committee. Let me be honest – I love the St. Gallen Symposium and I love the ISC. It’s an amazing feeling to be your host, as several other teams have been in the past. We are so honored and proud to be part of this initiative and to be able to carry on the dialogue between today and tomorrow and to further develop the St. Gallen Symposium.

But we will come back to that later. First, let me tell you something else. Let’s say as a child your parents or later in life your partner or loved-ones came to you and said “we need to talk”. What was going through your mind at this moment? Well, I cannot answer this for you but I for myself mostly thought, “I messed up”.

Tonight we are telling you that we need to talk. We need to talk about the lack of action that current leaders seem to be showing – something which is concerning us. This is how our generation is thinking and why so many millennials are taking matters to the streets more often. There is a reason why thousands of students across 25 cities in Switzerland demonstrated against climate change in March and April – all over the world way more than 1 million people did the same. We are expressing our worries and concerns about the future – especially about our future.

We need to talk about the lack of action that current leaders seem to be showing – something which is concerning us.

This is our “we need to talk”. We are not organising the symposium for you to just enjoy another conference. We want you to take action. Every individual needs to assume responsibility, that means you and that means us.

Over the past year, we have worked on our topic “Capital for Purpose” in various ways. For example, we’ve had workshops and discussions with our Main Partners about the purpose of capital in practice. With our fellow students from Start Global we came up with a project on how to measure non-financial impact when building a start-up.

It is important to get involved in the most pressing issues of our time, and therefore we have introduced a new session format for this year’s symposium – the so called Interactive Sessions. The goal is for you to get inspired, to get involved, to actively engage in discussions and to develop and define solutions, because we actually do have the power to change something.

Every individual needs to assume responsibility, that means you and that means us.

In order to initiate change, we have decided to serve a vegetarian meal tonight. It is just one small step, but it shows that our decisions and actions are relevant. To take the future in our own hands, we need to have a global understanding, including economics, politics and nature, along with every living creature with it. World hunger, climate change or health issues are not going to solve themselves and we need to define our own way of purposeful living.

As a team we have asked ourselves: What is our purpose? One might say the purpose is an interesting conference with relevant speakers. Another one might say it is a well-organised conference, completely run by students. That however, is just the tip of the iceberg.

The capital of the St. Gallen Symposium is the relationships and the dialogue we create. Capital – especially our capital – does not work without a purpose. That’s a recipe for short-term success as well as long-term failure. The purpose of the St. Gallen Symposium is for you to assume responsibility for tomorrow and to help shape our future. This sense of responsibility cannot arise without a dialogue, without hearing each other's thoughts and concerns. Thus, we need to talk. Next year, the symposium will celebrate its 50th anniversary. In the past 50 years, multiple generations of teams have carried the symposium and added their thoughts and concerns, which is a dialogue in itself.

We believe that a dialogue between different generations and therefore our symposium is more important today, than ever.

In the next two days you have a choice. You have the choice between attending the symposium or to become part of the symposium.

We are proud to stand here tonight in representation of our outstanding team. By organising the Symposium and allowing this dialogue to take actually place, they contribute their part to our shared future. Dear 49th ISC-Team, thank you. Thank you, dear guests, for your continued trust and for believing in us. We fully trust your decisions in order to make real change happen. To inspire and learn from each other. To assume responsibility for tomorrow. That is our purpose.

The purpose of the St. Gallen Symposium is for you to assume responsibility for tomorrow and to help shape our future.