Garry Jacobs, top global expert in economics, shared his vision with Ukrainians

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30 years ago Garry Jacobs came to Ukraine for his visit. Ukraine was on the eve of independence, and a group of international experts, including Jacobs, tried to help Ukrainians understand the not-so-rosy world on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

Since then, Jacobs visited Ukraine many times. He is always welcome at major events, and last year he spoke at the Kyiv International Economic Forum and the International Space and Future Forum, where he shared his vast experience of helping people in countries like India reach economic success. Jacobs is the CEO of the World Academy of Art & Science and of the World University Consortium, Vice President of Mother’s Service Society (India) and a full member of the Club of Rome.

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During his most recent visit to Kyiv, Garry Jacobs met with the activists of the Professional Government Association of Ukraine, including Sergiy Vakarin, the co-organizer of the Space and Future Forum. Jacobs’ keynote speech was about the road ahead for Ukraine.

After the breakdown of the Soviet Union, top communists received the chance to accumulate power and wealth, and the country is still trying to overcome the consequences of this process. What is the best path for Ukraine in this situation?

Jacobs started from a working definition of democracy. It includes “hardware” and “software” components. The hardware – participative representative self-governance, mechanism for popular election of political leaders and law makers and a system of checks and balances against absolute power – can be effective only when elements of software are present: values founded on idealist principles rather than power and privilege and human rights such as freedom of choice, equality before the law and social rights.

Effective democracy requires a nation state with rule of law, balance of power, unifying national identity based on tolerance and inclusiveness and rising middle class with prospects of opportunity for all. However, In addition, democracy faces unprecedented challenges including fast changes, interconnectedness, automation, as well as global economic crisis, migration and climate change and, as a result, uncertainty and insecurity.

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Ukraine, with its endemic corruption, anemic rule of law and low public involvement in politics, should avoid simplistic answers to its complex evolutionary problems by learning from the experience of others – both positive and negative.

Where to start? Most importantly, a platform of inclusiveness rather than opposition should be built. All available technologies and social systems should be utilized to create widespread awareness of the key issues, with a focus on the next generation, and promote entrepreneurship as a form of patriotism. The culture of active commitment, rather than passive dependence, needs to be developed.

Radical changes in education are required as an important prerequisite for involvement of the next generation. Education should be focused on discussion and practice and emphasize Individuality rather than Individualism.

For democracy, there is no such thing as “One size fits all”. Global experts like Garry Jacobs help Ukraine learn from the vast variety of models and practices and find its own best way to the future.

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