Minds for Change

"We are in times of crisis and face the end of a particular era." These were the clear and profound words Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus used to describe the current global situation at the opening of the "Minds for Change" Conference.

His words laid the foundation for exchange among 70 participants from all parts of the world and all sectors who had come together in Berlin for the future forum on November 13 and 14, 2011. The forum was part of the celebrations to honour the 50th anniversary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and organised by the GIZ's Development Policy Forum. Before the anniversary celebration could truly get underway though, a lot of creative work was needed. All discussions focused on one key question: what future challenges require more attention from the international community?

The Future Forum's methodology supports open-ended, interdisciplinary, international dialogue in keeping with Theory U developed by Otto Scharmer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston. Scharmer himself presented the method at the start of the conference and clarified the defining characteristic of the future forum: only an innovative dialogue forum can ensure that actors from a wide range of areas can allow their thoughts free rein and develop new ideas and visions through dialogue, free of limitations and without "mental blocks".

Against this background, German Development Minister Niebel invited a very heterogeneous group of participants to the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW Bank) offices at the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin. Along with participants from partner institutions, such as African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka, and from think tanks, such as Alison Evans, Director of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), guests ran the gamut from theatre director Yael Ronen and Japanese professor of philosophy Ken'ichi Mishima, to EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick and Achim Steiner, United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director.

For Otto Scharmer's speech and impressions from the event, please see the pictures below and read the full text as linked on the right side!

More video-statements from

  • Muhammad Yunus (Founder of the Grameen Bank, Bangladesh)
  • Veronica Victorio (Executive Director of Apostles of the Earth, Philipines)
  • Shukria Barakzai (Member of Afgha Parliament, Afghanistan)
  • Priyanthi Fernando (Exec. Director of the Center of Poverty Analysis CEPA, Sri Lanka)
  • Petra Kneuer (Senior Trial Lawyer Office of the Prosecutor International Criminal Court, The Hague)
  • Otto Scharmer (Senior Lecturer MIT, USA) Michael Otto (Chairman Board of Trustees
  • Michael Otto Foundation for Environmental Protection, Germany)
  • Lakshmi Puri (UN Women Deputy Executive Director, New York)
  • Dirk Messner (Director of German Development Institute GDI, Germnay)
  • Auma Obama (Project Coordinator CARE International, Kenya)
  • Andris Piebalgs (European Commission for Development, Brussels)