Global Issues Project

The Global Issues Project: 2005 to 2019

The concept of the Global Issues Project is to study, through international expert roundtables, the crucial issues in the life of humankind and of the planetary biosphere itself. These fell into two categories: physical and organizational/political. By exploring interrelationships between vital factors, the goal has been to provide strategies that might enable best management of anticipated crises.

The Global Issues Project (GIP) was founded in 2005 by two members of Science for Peace and of Canadian Pugwash, and a third who was a member of neither. In the 2006, the first GIP Roundtable was held in partnership with the Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto.

During the next six years roundtables were held on all the crucial issues of the physical category except agriculture and the ocean; the only roundtable held on the organizational or political issues was a one-day roundtable on limiting economic growth.

GIP Expert Roundtables: 2006 to 2012

Forests 2006 Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto
Climate Change and Energy 2007 Breuninger Foundation; David Suzuki Foundation
Fresh Water 2008 Trinity College, University of Toronto; Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation
Food and Population 2009 Ryerson University
Managing without Growth 2010 Environmental Studies, York University
Global Governance – a World without War 2010 ISSS pre-conference workshop
Biochar 2010 Biochar Offsets Group
Securing the Peaceful Uses of Space for Future Generations 2012 Project Ploughshares

From 2008 through 2012, the group had a maximum of 11 members. Science for Peace provided starter funding for (GIP) in November 2005, and Canadian Pugwash began its co-sponsorship in 2006. Most of the funding, 2006-2012, was through private donations, and through the in-kind contributions of partners, each one of which made major intellectual contributions to the issues under review.

The most successful of the declarations was from the 2008 Freshwater Roundtable, which all expert participants signed; the declaration is in fact a blueprint from which a government can formulate fresh-water policy.1 Reports exist of the roundtables, some of which also issued declarations. At Slower by Design, not Disaster: Managing without Growth, ecological economists challenged neoliberalism and consumerism. This Roundtable issued a DVD. National and international experts discussed pressing threats to the secure and sustainable use of outer space. This Roundtable issued the Waterloo Declaration2 on the Peaceful Use of Space for Future Generations, which sets out still relevant insights.

The Global Issues Project was restarted in 2018 by a Board decision of Canadian Pugwash.

In 2019, the Global Issues Project members are engaged in research, planning and co-sponsorship of a Group of 783 conference on 27-28 September 2019 at the University of Ottawa, on “Global Markets, Inequality and the Future of Democracy”. That Conference focus is on the proposition that the causes of rising inequality and economic insecurity are a) neoliberal reforms b) the rise of a global financial system that is no longer regulated in the public interest c) the rise of an international trading system that has dramatically undercut the ability of labour to share in productivity gains and d) the enshrinement of a deeply individualistic ideology that has greatly increased the power of corporate capital to act with virtual impunity. The conference intent is to explore the most promising avenues for resistance to these causes and address the problem of individualistic ideology to realize a genuine democracy in which voters make choices based on an open and well-informed debate.


Conference on “Global Markets, Inequality and the Future of Democracy”, 27-28 September 2019.


  1. The GIP also determined two important projections through use of the Global Systems Simulator (developed by Robert Hoffman, economist), a complex economic model based on resource values. The first of these projections was for forests globally. It projected supply and demand totals for forest products to the year 2050. The result (2006, confirmed in 2009 with updated inputs) was that, under a policy of laissez-faire, there will be an onset of a huge tension in 2038, meaning that the supply will be far from able to keep up with demand. The second projection (2009) -of food availability to 2050- showed an onset of a global tension (insufficiency) c. 2040, of severity sufficient to begin reducing the human population c.2045.
  3. The Group of 78 is an informal association of Canadians seeking to promote global priorities for peace and disarmament, equitable and sustainable development and a strong and revitalized United Nations system. The group began in 1980 and in November 1981 sent a statement “Canadian Foreign Policy in the 1980s” to then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau that was signed by a group of 78.