TED Conversations

Closing Statement from Daniel Raven-Ellison

Thank you TED community for taking the time to join our conversation. I have been fascinated by the diverse range of contributions that have been made. The stories that have been shared are particularly powerful, with examples of how globalisation is impacting on the communities that we live in, visit and influence.

What is clear is that many of us are working from very different definitions of what 'local' means. Ronald Estrada describes local as "minimal, ecological, and symbiotic" while Iain Ellwood says it is more of "a state of mind not a geographic destination". This idea links well to Dustin Smith's suggestion that technology "changes who we spend time with, and allows us to choose "our own local".

The diversity of definitions of 'local' goes a long way to explain why we have so many different predictions about the future. Steve Knight had the most radical prediction, suggesting that personal air travel "will allow people to re-populate currently remote and unpopulated areas of the world". Pabitra Mukhopadhyay, Dorian Knus and many others share our concern that global forces are damaging local places and raise valid concerns for the future. These worries are met by many points that express the advantages of globalisation, including one by David Rogers who asks "Is the advantage of globalisation the ability to start a conversation anywhere in the world around common experiences?"

There have been a number of engaging solutions, including ways for tourists, travel companies and host communities to act more responsibly and sustainably. The common areas here appear to be high quality research, learning, education, empowerment and participation. Scan through to find some real gems.

Finally, thank you to InterContinental Hotels & Resorts for sponsoring this conversation. This specific discussion is closed, but you can follow the "Future of Local" project via Twitter on #FutureOfLocal. And we'll begin a new conversation on TED.com in the coming weeks.

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  • Feb 22 2013: What 'local' means is a question I often find myself struggling with as a food activist. For all the amazing benefits globalisation brings, it is also tied up with issues of sustainability, exploitation of farmers (both at home and abroad), and above all, oil. I worry that our food system is not 'local' enough: we are reliant on high input imported food kept artificially low in price by cheap oil, exploited labour and stolen soil.

    I can only hope that we are moving towards a future where global free and fair trade is celebrated but supporting local growers and suppliers in creating a sustainable circular economy is standard.

    There is a space for big business in this but they need to think of the long term effects not just short term profits. Token nods to local economies ('local cream' served with air freighted strawberries in January, anyone?) and a half-baked CSR policy won't cut it!

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