CIRCULAZE Summer Talk 2023

On July 6th together with ODDO BHF, we hosted an exclusive CIRCULAZE Summer Talk on “Sustainability as a Security Strategy: How Companies are Positioning Themselves More Resiliently in an Unstable World Order”. Former Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, President of the Board of Trustees of the Munich Security Conference Foundation joined us for an exciting fireside chat and discussion

by Natascha Zeljko | Jul 11, 2023

Last week, our CIRCULAZE Summer Talk took place. Together with our partner ODDO BHF, we invited around 40 entrepreneurs and corporate executives to our Munich office.

Special guest of the evening was Prof. Wolfgang Ischinger, former Ambassador and President of the Foundation Board of the Munich Security Conference (MSC). Wolfgang Ischinger looks back on a long diplomatic career, as former State Secretary of the German Foreign Office and German Ambassador in Washington and London. Prof. Ischinger teaches at the Hertie School in Berlin and is an honorary professor at the University of Tübingen. He advises companies, international organizations, and governments on political and strategic issues. Among other things, he is a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and sits on various supervisory and advisory boards, e.g. the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) and Atlantik-Brücke. In 2008, he took over the chairmanship of the Munich Security Conference. Under his leadership, MSC grew from two staff members to over 70 permanent employees.

With the impact initiative CIRCULAZE, the focus is not only on climate policy aspects, but also on how to become more resilient in times of supply chain bottlenecks, energy and resource dependency and shortages, and geopolitical crises, and to what extent sustainability can be a security strategy for greater business resilience in an increasingly unstable world order.

The issues of politics and economics are an exciting duo when looked at together, and this is especially true for geo-politics and economics. How can we position ourselves in this new field of tension as a country – and as an important partner within the EU? We discussed these questions and more with Prof. Wolfgang Ischinger.

Here are the 10 most important key takeaways from the talk:

  1. As a country, we need a “chief risk officer” (similar to corporations) and also closer coordination with our allies. A transatlantic consultation instrument would be desirable, which would ideally consult on a weekly basis.
  2. It would also be extremely important to have a well-staffed and comprehensively responsible national security council, overseen with experienced supervisory board members and representatives of start-ups, among others.
  3. Europe must learn to speak with one voice so that it does not become geopolitically torn between the U.S. and Chinese blocs, which in turn have their own agendas.
  4. Militarily, we need to focus more on “pooling & sharing” – as the war in Ukraine has shown. Europe has 6 times as many different weapon systems as the U.S.
  5. We should invest more in large infrastructure projects, even if it means more debt. Saving at all costs does not seem to be a good strategy.
  6. For Germany, close ties with the EU are the most important project of all in terms of further development.
  7. However, more leadership and initiative is needed, especially with regard to the EU. The EU’s last major joint project was the introduction of the Euro. This new leadership must come from the larger member states, first and foremost Germany.
  8. We come from a bipolar world order; a multipolar world order, which is often talked about now – for example by Olaf Scholz – would not be a desirable scenario for Europe, as we would clearly lose influence. That is why it is so important for the EU to speak with one voice and coordinate closely.
  9. De-risking, i.e. spreading risks as much as possible, is a good strategy in terms of greater resilience, although eliminating risks completely is an illusion. It would be better not to talk about de-risking, but about “reducing vulnerabilities”.
  10. China, with its huge market of well over a billion people, is not something we should leave to others.