- Chairman Bio
The Global Challenges Forum Foundation Executive Chairman, Dr. Walter L. Christman, initiated two major projects in 2014:
The “GULFNET” Project in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The “GENESIS ENERGY CENTER” Project in Pune, India
GULFNET: February 2014, Dr. Nabil Elaraby, the Secretary General of the Arab League, addressed at the Crisis and Emergency Management Conference 2014 in Abu Dhabi the issue of “The Future of Collective Arab Action” and asked member nations to develop common policies to deal with economic, political, social and security problems, as the region was facing challenges that affected its security and needed to be addressed through cooperation. The scope of threats needing to be explored includes hybrid challenges, threats posed to human security, health security, cyber security, border security, maritime security and energy security. These are also among the main focus areas of the Global Challenges Forum Foundation.
Over the past decade, the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have made important strides in developing some of their own defensive capabilities, strengthening their bilateral relationships with Western militaries, and integrating their armed forces. They have learned how making significant investment in relevant research and training can lead to more effective defense systems. The key question has become what it needs to strengthen existing capabilities beyond what it has already achieved. As Dr. Elaraby stated: “Complex events require an ability to read and analyze all the information and to give decision makers proper knowledge to make good decisions at good times. … That requires a rapid ability to gather information … to guarantee effective response and provide good recovery.”
At the same time as Dr. Elaraby spoke on these times, GCF Foundation Chairman, Dr. Walter Christman, was also in Abu Dhabi and made a major presentation on behalf of the GCF Foundation Board at the C4ISR Summit on ways and means of implementation. In a presentation supported by Mr. Steven Moore, Vice President of Booz Allen Hamilton, Dr. Christman proposed the establishment of “GULFNET: A GCC Network-Enabled Capability for Regional Education, Training and Exercises.”
GULFNET is envisioned to develop a shared knowledge capability between the relevant GCC ministries dealing with defense, interior and of homeland security (MOD), including the existing Defense Science & Technology Laboratories and relevant industry. It would provide a unique collaborative environment which enables the GCC bodies, the involved governments, involved administration, research facilities and industry to work together to make informed decisions.
The vision related to GULFNET is to promote effective risk and crisis management through networked Simulation & Training facilities via linking the GCC Joint Command with member states, their respective command and control centers, simulation and training centers and respective industrial and research facilities in order to:
Launching the “Genesis Energy Center” Project in Pune, India
The second major initiative was to launch the “Genesis Energy Center” initiative in Pune, India under the direction of GCF Foundation Board member, Mr. Edward Wood.
GCF Board approval in March 2014 included agreement to collaborate with the President of the Global Partnership Forum in the United States, Mr. Amir Dossal, to explore measures to make this project of relevance to the United Nations, in particular the UNESCO endeavors to support Education for Sustainable Development.
The GCF Chairman, Dr. Walter Christman, and Board Member, Mr. Edward Wood, briefed the concept and developments underway to representatives of the Chinese government in Beijing in November 2014 exploring modalities to establish a joint-partnership endeavor.
The Genesis Energy Center is a major undertaking to address energy poverty in the developing world. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the projected energy consumption of Organization of Economic Co‐operation & Development (OECD) countries is slated to be significantly lower than that of Non‐ OECD countries by 2015. With the major drivers behind energy demand being population and income, Non‐ OECD countries, for the most part, are expected to account for the huge growth in energy consumption going forward. Several emerging economies, notably from the Asian‐African region, have witnessed rapid industrialization followed by accelerated urbanization, which has prompted them to harness their energy resources at an even faster rate.
However, while these economies have the potential manpower, they lack the necessary infrastructure, cutting-edge technology, comprehensive knowledge and requisite skills exhibited by developed nations. To further compound the issue, the near vacuum of renowned knowledge centers in the Asian-African region has been one of the major significant deterrents to the efficient harnessing of energy resources and has thus, hampered the achievement of desired growth rates. The diverse nature of the challenges being faced by the global energy industry in terms of energy poverty, energy over consumption, energy efficiency and sustainable development, shortage of requisite skills, GHG emissions and climate change has been instrumental in the conceptualization of the Genesis Energy Center.
In an endeavor to contribute towards efforts aimed at addressing these global challenges, the Genesis Energy Center has been conceived as an integrated, seamless, holistic energy knowledge hub with a global reach, designed to provide a host of services spanning skill development, workshops, seminars, conferences, collaborative efforts, investment meets, critical mass awareness and societal impact programs, a facilitation platform during the initial phase and high-end academic programs, an online learning platform, dedicated infrastructure for specialized testing, facilitation for specific areas of research & development, and other initiatives pertaining to the energy industry during the expansion phase. The facility is being developed primarily to cater to the needs of the energy industry in the Asian-African region, given the immense growth potential and urgent necessities of this region.
The Genesis Energy Centre will be an ideal avenue to facilitate the fostering of international technology agreements, encourage multinational domestic and foreign investment, contribute towards the setting up of necessary infrastructure, facilitate specific research and development activities, and promote sharing of best practices, among other initiatives. When looked at in a comprehensive manner, it can be clearly perceived that merely a combination of financial investments and advanced technology cannot sustain the energy industry in India, and the Asian‐African region, without the holistic development of skilled, competent workforces and the knowledge of global best practices.
With specific focus on renewable energy and GHG emissions, the GEC is expected to cater to an average of around 8,780 participants annually (around 5,928 participants for skill development, around 1,585 participants for seminars and conferences, and around 1,267 participants via supportive initiatives carried out through the facilitation platform). This will be regarded as the minimum commitment on the part of the GEC facility in contributing towards the formulation of India in particular, and the region at large as a stronger destination for capital investment in the green energy industry through the development of competent local content.
In market segments comprising India, Africa, Middle East, South Asia and South‐east Asia regions, the market size for skill development programs alone is expected to reach around USD 1.75 Billion for 2014 (based on conservative in‐house estimates), and is expected to reach USD 3.5 Billion by 2020, and USD 10 Billion by 2030 respectively. A major front‐runner among emerging countries with its strategic and logistical proximity to rapidly expanding economies in the Asian‐African region, India serves to be the ideal location for the setting up of the Genesis Energy Centre. Moreover, its diverse energy portfolio is conducive to adopting a pragmatic approach of developing and replicating parts of the GEC model in the Asian‐African region.
Phase‐I of the Genesis Energy Centre is estimated to cost around USD 35.77 Million for a planned capacity of accommodating 400 participants at a time, and will include services pertaining to skill development, workshops, seminars, conferences, collaborative efforts, investment meets, critical mass awareness and societal impact programmes, and a facilitation platform. The GEC is expected to cater to an average of around 22,495 participants annually (around 14,430 participants for skill development, around 3,975 participants for seminars and conferences, and around 4,087 participants via supportive initiatives carried out through the facilitation platform), during the first 10 years of operations via its portfolio of diverse services offered through Phase‐I development.