Speech by Professor Emil Constantinescu, President of Romania 1996-2000, at the opening ceremony of the World Petroleum Council Expert Workshop

In the field of energy resources, there is a pressing need both for an encompassing perspective that is adequately capable of harmonising global, national and local interests, and that provides fair arbitration between corporations’ and citizens’ interests.

The anti-crisis plans of action that dominate Western public policy only tackle the effects and not the causes of systematic crises, focused as they are on diminishing excessive consumption and the strengthening of financial discipline. A holistic approach is required in order to challenge those responsible for taking political action, as well as the business and academic environments, to gravitate towards new ways of thinking and new forms of action. A vision of the future must take into consideration the capacity of highly educated human resources to generate scientific and technological progress in correlation with the limited nature of natural resources. This vision can be the launch-pad for a kind of creative intuition that fosters sustainable strategies bounded by reality, by reasoned prudence and by our limited resources. Before we can elaborate new concepts, whose furtherance is stalled by political and corporate interests and by media populism, we need as many minds as possible to think strategically, understanding the existing limitations and laying out the necessary conditions of anticipation in order to realistically achieve progress.

Globalisation does not do away with countries’ national agendas, however; and each state has a duty to elaborate a strategy of economic development predicated on their respective bounty or lack of natural mineral resource deposits, and dependant on the quantity, quality and types of subterranean natural resources – given that no state today can claim to possess all types of underground resources required by its economy. Identifying the types of mineral deposits found in each country, mapping their regional distribution, understanding their utilitarian value and the ways and degrees to which they are utilised across various parts of the economy, and exploring the possibilities of creating new industries on these bases are key elements for elaborating a sustainable strategy for capitalizing on our national natural heritage in the long-term.

The Society of Knowledge does not diminish the importance of mineral resources, but rather adds the new challenge of their intelligent incorporation into a sustainable vision for the future. At the same time, the Society of Knowledge marks a radical shift in the power relations between science, politics and society. In this new dimension, there is no place left for rational strategies and policies that are “independent” of science. Scholars are called upon to offer society all that they know, not to silence that which they have not yet found, and to allow space for different points of view brought up by cutting-edge research, in order to afford the political and economic decision-making bodies, as well as the broader public, an objective analysis of phenomena of general interest.

Despite the use of utopian or populist solutions in the public space, the oil industry plays an important role not only in the present but also in the future, in which even the development of renewable industries is linked to the success of the oil industry.

Sustainable management must establish an ideal objective, to be sure, but it must also have at hand flexible solutions that can respond to inevitable changes at a local and global level. Once disconnected from the issues of the real economy, even the most brilliant strategies shall fail if they are incapable of taking into consideration the ever-shifting tendencies of the prime material markets.

But we will not achieve progress if we cannot understand that the Age of Globalisation and the Society of Knowledge require the novel approach of a symbiotic relationship between political decision-making, business environments and civil society, in which the management of a company is not the sole responsibility of its proprietors, but that it must serve the interests of all involved parties: employees, clients, suppliers and – in a much broader frame – the governments and the civil society. 

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