Economic Security

The EastWest Institute launched the Economic Security Initiative (ESI) at the fall 2011 board meeting in Washington. The initiative leverages EWI’s 30 years of experience in convening Track 2 meetings focused on breaking deadlocks in security policy across international political divides.

ESI was launched to address the increasing share of threats to international security that emanate from the economic realm, rather than from traditional military competition. ESI’s initial areas of focus include: increasing resilience and response capabilities in regions threatened by water, food and energy scarcity; ensuring the security of the digital economy; and working with global investors to address dilemmas of growth and sustainability.

On Oct. 31, 2011, Earth’s population passed 7 billion. In 1960, Earth’s population stood at 3 billion. Resource scarcity and humanity’s dependence on a stable economy have risen apace with the world population. To meet the attendant challenges, the global policy community needs to develop well-coordinated policies—and EWI is intent on serving as a catalyst in that process.

What is Economic Security?

Economic security spans East and West, private and public, and issue areas such as food, water, energy, and raw materials. Any efforts to address these challenges depend on cooperation and solutions that reach across these divides. The Economic Security Initiative (ESI) is designed to serve as a catalyst, bringing together the traditionally separate communities focused on economic development, investment, and international security across East and West to co-create enduring economic security.

Daily necessities such as food, water, and energy make up the foundation of human life. The EastWest Institute (EWI) uses the term “economic security” to describe:

  1. the confidence people feel in their continued access to these necessities;
  2. the sustainability of their access to resources;
  3. the ability to counter direct threats to their access from forces domestic, international, political, military, social or environmental.

The Need

Economic security rests on a complex cross-border system made up of physical, digital, and institutional infrastructure. EWI’s work is already under way on economic security issues that represent a threat to international security and require increased consensus and cooperation between East and West. EWI works specifically in areas where preventative action through cross-sectoral approaches and private–public partnerships hold the greatest potential to increase security.

The EWI Process

The EWI Process, proven over 30 years of convening Track 2 and Track 1.5 meetings, brings people together where other institutions have failed or simply do not exist. Historically, this meant political dialogue across the Iron Curtain. Now, EWI bridges divides among the United States, China, Russia, India and the European Union in cross-issue outcome-oriented dialogues. ESI will create new private–public action coalitions to help mitigate specific transnational threats to economic security.

Business leaders move to center stage

In the past, business leaders entered international politics as stakeholders to be consulted by policymakers developing regulatory regimes such as tariffs or environmental regulations. Today, the private sector plays a more proactive role, and public and private interests are intertwined. Private–public cooperation must be the core of the policy process. The digital infrastructure of the global economy is largely designed, built, and protected by the private sector, yet cybersecurity is a pressing public interest. The private sector has a long history of supporting inter-governmental or civil society organizations, but businesses now actively shape civil society programs on a variety of economic security issues, from natural resources and carbon markets to food security and the green economy. EWI’s ability to convene key private and public security actors across political and sectoral divides is needed now more than ever.