Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How the State of Utah is Addressing Global Challenges

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS, hosted Governor Jon M. Huntsman (R-Utah) on June 23, 2008 to discus the role of states in “A Local Perspective on Global Challenges and Opportunities.” As a part of the Smart Power series, this discussion was designed to address the role the US and state actors play in how the country integrates soft and hard power to better balance economic, security, and environmental concerns.

Governor Huntsman’s background as a White House Staff Assistant, Deputy US Trade Representative, US Ambassador, and appointee to both the Commerce Department and State Department has contributed greatly to his ability to serve the state of Utah as they face the challenges of population and resource management. The Western States face trends in demographic changes and gradual urbanization, and are confronted with seven major challenges along with the rest of the world: water, power, technological innovation, development and dissemination of information and knowledge, economic integration, conflict, and governance.

According to Governor Huntsman, we are all under the same ideological umbrella: we know where we should be heading, but we don’t know exactly how to get there? In regards to proving clean and accessible water, Governor Huntsman expressed the need to re-introduce market mechanisms for water as a resource and to develop alternative forms of water generation and consolidation. The issue of power requires increases in efficiency and the need to obtain the ability for adequate transmission capacity. Both water and power are vital to life in the US and are becoming increasingly scarce and expensive to utilize.

As a strong believer in the value of education and research, Governor Huntsman emphasized challenges affronting both technological innovation and the development of information and knowledge. He argued that the US should invest in basic research at every level. Recently there has been a decline in research funding by nearly 3%. Huntsman drew upon Toronto’s MaRS Centre as a program that adequately prioritizing research. This program translates basic research into commercially viable entities. Governor Huntsman also stressed the role of the free market and the risk in entrepreneurship as a catalyst for growth and development. It is the willingness to embrace failure that accompanies entrepreneurship that produces technological innovation. The delegation of responsibility for developing and disseminating both information and knowledge has changed throughout time. This task, once belonging to the nation-state and later to corporations, is currently held by the internet. Today, many rely on the internet as their source of knowledge; this fact provides both opportunities and challenges for all actors.

The final three challenges are economic integration, conflict, and governance. These require intimate relations between states, the federal government, and the international community. With increased economic integration, states like Utah have seen a rise in exports and therefore a need to conduct foreign policy with countries such as China. The issue concerning conflict is illustrated by the competition for resources such as water and clean air as well as the need to combat climate change. Lastly, the question of governance will require innovation to combat issues like energy and immigration. Governor Huntsman expressed the need for a new, hybrid leadership model to address these seven challenges in today’s globalized world to preserve the quality of life for the next generations. In his home state of Utah, Governor Huntsman proudly discussed advancements concerning personalized medicine and carbon capture. At the state level, research can be conducted to begin to address both the challenges and opportunities that lie before the entire international community.

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Sponsor: The Center for Strategic and International Studies
Date: June 23, 2008
Time: 10am – 11:30am
Representative Attending: Jessica Walker

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