Having evaded definition since the term was coined in the 1980s1 there is now a loose consensus that emerging markets are in many ways a diverse group of countries with enough political, cultural, and institutional attributes in common to let us speak of them in the same breath.
In recent decades Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and about fifteen (mainly smaller) countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas have:
Achieved relatively strong and sustained economic growth and expect (and are generally expected) to perform well in the future.
Made significant progress in reducing poverty, fertility, infant mortality, communicable diseases and illiteracy.
Developed politically differentiated but relatively stable polities with relatively effective governance, judicial, financial, transport, education and healthcare systems that, among other things, encourage direct and indirect domestic and foreign investment.
Developed sufficiently large populations, economies and markets and sufficient external influence to become significant or dominant players in regional and/or global geopolitics.
Been challenged by problems and opportunities associated with the speed and scale of demographic, economic, social, cultural, technological and urban changes that have been both the causes and consequences of economic success.
Emerging markets are differentiated from higher income countries with relatively more reliable political, economic, financial and judicial systems and better established institutions and from lower income countries with relatively weaker and less reliable systems and less established institutions. There have been numerous transitions. A few emerging markets (e.g. Argentina) were once among the worlds’ most prosperous countries. Some high income countries (e.g. Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan) have graduated from the ranks of emerging markets. Other high income countries (e.g. Saudi Arabia, UAE) have some but not all of the attributes of emerging markets notably the fact that they are small states although their geo-political power allows them to punch above their weight. Other small states are (e.g. Costa Rica, Uruguay) are not usually regarded as emerging markets although they meet many of the criteria because they have small economies. And some countries that have been widely regarded as emerging markets (e.g. Egypt, Syria) could be at least temporarily excluded in light of the impact of political instability on economic performance. At the end of the day any list of emerging markets is based partly on objective criteria and partly on judgment.
No two lists of emerging markets are the same but the eight countries listed above are in all of them. Most lists include four in the Western Hemisphere (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru); a few in Africa (Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and in some cases Nigeria); some in the Middle East (Jordan and in some cases the UAE and/or Saudi Arabia) several in Asia (Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand) and some in Europe (Poland and in some cases the Czech Republic and/or Hungary). If all those countries are included there are 28 emerging markets. Most lists include 20 – 25 countries. The Emerging Markets Symposium uses a set of 202.
Why Are They Important?
It is often supposed that most of the countries we now call emerging markets were globally unimportant until the late 20th century. Yet China, Egypt, India, Mexico and Peru (among others) were regional powers before 1600. In the light of history, many emerging markets are re-emerging markets. Their astonishing growth in the last quarter century reflects past success; and their collective challenge to the rest of the world winds the clock back half a millennium.
The world knows the largest emerging markets are global economic and (increasingly) geopolitical powers. But it has yet to come to terms with the facts that: the North-South paradigm is history; shifting wealth patterns have generated new global dynamics; centrifugal forces unleashed by the success of the development enterprise have made it harder to achieve an international consensus on new policy directions; the global poverty landscape has been transformed since 1980; the post-World War II architecture of international aid has been shattered; the lessons of development success should begin to flow towards rich countries; global policies and institutions need urgent adjustment; and the future of emerging markets and the future of the rest of the world are joined at the hip.
People in rich countries who (in some cases wishfully) believe the world order of the 19th and 20th centuries can be revived ignore two realities. First, notwithstanding blips, the fortunes of emerging markets will continue to affect the rest of the world. Second, their relationships with the rest of the world and with each other could be rough or smooth. To avoid a rough ride, emerging markets must answer generic questions that, in greater or lesser degree and with variable urgency, affect them all. The world as a whole has a vested interest in their success and is (willingly or grudgingly) obliged to help them find practical solutions to their common, complex, unprecedented and urgent challenges.
What Are Their Characteristic Challenges and Opportunities?
The challenges are complex, unprecedented and urgent. None can be met without international collaboration. All, at different times in different places, but mostly in the 19th and 20th centuries, have been addressed if not successfully, at least partially, by today’s high income countries whose developed if imperfect economic, social and political systems have raised productivity, and incomes, improved health, education and social care and created relatively advanced civilizations.
With 50% of the world’s people and nearly half its economy, emerging markets expect to be increasingly powerful actors on the world stage. But in varying degrees, their prospects for sustained growth, social cohesion and political stability are menaced by: eroding competitive advantages; environmental degradation, depletion and destruction; corruption and other weaknesses in national, local and corporate governance; and unresolved issues of human welfare associated with urbanization, population ageing, nutrition, health, housing, employment, social care and the coordination of action within governments and between governments, businesses and civil societies.
Challenges to emerging markets range from creating and sustaining economic environments that promote and enable growth, to contending with their physical environments, to managing the determinants of human welfare. Many of these challenges were addressed by today’s rich countries as they developed economic, social and political systems that improved productivity, incomes, health, education and social care in the 19th and 20th centuries. Those countries have not finished the job. Their economic systems remain vulnerable, their social systems remain fragile and their political systems remain skittish. As emerging markets grapple with demographic, economic, geopolitical, cultural and technological change, they must address similar issues but must do so on vastly larger scales on highly compressed schedules and with relatively fewer human, fiscal and financial resources, poorer infrastructure and weaker institutions.
Emerging markets are distinguished from rich countries less by the nature of the challenges they face than by the magnitude, dynamism, complexity and urgency of those challenges and the relative scarcity of resources to deal with them.
2015 yielded a flood of nervous stories about deteriorating short term prospects for emerging markets, most of which focused on declining foreign investment, falling commodity prices and depressed consumer confidence. There were few stories (there are never many) about the potential impact of slower growth on human well-being. And there were even fewer about the facts: that improved welfare is both the ultimate rationale for and a fundamental condition of economic growth, social cohesion and political stability; that if emerging market economies do not grow, the welfare of their people cannot improve; that if welfare does not improve, growth, cohesion and stability cannot be sustained; and that this nexus is the soft underbelly of emerging markets.
None of the problems and opportunities facing emerging markets can be resolved without sustained growth. And sustained growth will not be achieved without successful attacks on issues of human welfare that constitute the soft underbelly of emerging market economies. The litany of inter-related problems (poverty, inequality, ignorance, sickness, isolation) recited for over a century in high income countries, is familiar. As are opportunities to address them (through education, training, healthcare, social care, sanitation, housing, infrastructure).
Every emerging market has recognized the need to address its problems and capture opportunities to resolve them. Some have channeled growing prosperity in to giant improvements in human services. Others have relied less on the state and more on the market. Most have chosen hybrids. But very few emerging markets (or for that matter high income countries) have recognized the need for joined-up policies to address different aspects of human welfare (e.g. youth policies, ageing policies). Very few have recognized the need for coordinated action (e.g. healthcare, social care) to address welfare issues. And very few have recognized the value of life-course perspectives in policies and actions that address the age-specific needs of population cohorts (e.g. maternal nutrition).
Solutions to problems of human welfare continue to evade wealthy countries that have had time and resources to understand the issues and act on them. Given that the challenges for emerging markets are vastly greater, it is not surprising that many of them are unaddressed and unresolved and must be met in extraordinarily difficult and rapidly changing conditions. Insofar as the benefits of growth are shared some will at least in part, solve themselves. But the problems will not melt and constitute what may be the most formidable agenda in human history.
The Emerging Markets Symposium (EMS)
Since the turn of the century emerging markets have become an increasingly popular topic in universities, research centres, banks, consulting firms and corporations in emerging markets and wealthy countries. Competing in the marketplace for ideas they have offered undergraduate and graduate programmes, conferences, seminars and forums on trade, capital flows, foreign investment, macro-economic policies and social and environmental issues. Some have confined themselves within disciplinary boundaries (economics, finance, demography, education, health, ecology, sociology, anthropology). Others have roamed across them. Their interests have varied from those of emerging market governments, businesses, civil societies and foreign (direct and financial) investors to those of specific populations (the poor, minorities, children, young people, the ageing). Some seek to help emerging markets address economic and social issues. Others, for whom emerging markets are investment opportunities seek to help themselves.
The Emerging Markets Symposium (EMS) was created in 2008 as an academic initiative of Green Templeton College (GTC) one of 43 constituent colleges and halls in the University of Oxford. Green Templeton is one of Oxford’s seven graduate colleges, the newest college in the University and the first in its 800-year history formed by merger.
The decision to launch the EMS expressed GTC’s commitment to promote understanding of the issues of managing human welfare in the modern world and its particular commitment to the flow of ideas across traditional disciplinary and professional boundaries. The decision was based on three premises:
Issues of human welfare were nowhere more challenging, more in need of rigorous scrutiny, more critical in their own right or more serious constraints to sustainable growth, social cohesion and political stability than in emerging markets.
There was an urgent need to fill voids arising from the facts that despite growing interest in emerging markets, existing forums did not:
Reflect the magnitude, complexity and urgency of human welfare issues;
Address issues from multiple perspectives within comprehensive frameworks;
Produce actionable recommendations that could add value to policy makers;
Blend sectoral experience (governments, business, civil society, academe); or
Capture the benefits of multi-disciplinary approaches to complex issues.
Green Templeton College had the capacity to fill these voids.
The EMS exists to bring together authoritative and influential leaders from emerging markets and wealthy countries to:
Exchange knowledge and opinion on issues of human welfare in emerging markets.
Reach grounded conclusions, findings and recommendations.
Use their conclusions to educate the public at large and influence opinion shapers, decision takers and policy makers in emerging markets (and if appropriate other countries), multilateral institutions, national and international corporations and voluntary organizations to promote changes in policies and practices that would help resolve problems and capture opportunities to improve human welfare.
What the EMS Means by Human Welfare
The EMS uses human welfare as a shorthand term that encompasses humanwell-being (physical, psychological, emotional, social and economic); human development (as defined in UNDP’s Human Development Reports2 and summarized in its Human Development Index3); human security (as described in the 2003 Report of the UN Commission on Human Security4); and aspects of human rights. As a catch-all term it is imprecise but nonetheless defines the concerns that drive the EMS.
The work of the EMS is grounded in the fact that because issues of human welfares are complex and interrelated they must be considered in:
Holistic frameworks that link issues.
Multidisciplinary, multi-sectoral and interactive forums in which complementary knowledge, expertise and experience is brought to bear on issues of common interest (see Experise/Experience Matrix below).
Secure and private conversations that allow participants to learn from others, allow others to learn from them and allow them to refine their own ideas.
Other Determinants of Human Welfare
Human welfare is a function of health, educations, economic security and social security, each an outcome of complex interactions between:
Demographic, economic and social policies,
Decisions made by individuals, businesses and civil society orgnizations; and
The human life course from birth through childhood, youth, adulthood and ageing to death.
The determinants of welfare are interactive but not necessarily aligned.
The nine EMS symposia since 2008 have focused on aspects of the life course, aspects of policy and interventions and aspects of outcomes. The topics have included:
Health and Healthcare in Emerging Market Countries (4-6 December 2009).
Urbanization, Urban Health and Human Security in Emerging Markets (4-16 January 2011).
Tertiary Education in Emerging Markets (13-15 January 2012).
Gender Inequality in Emerging Markets (11-13 January 11-13 2013).
Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition (9-12 January 2014).
Ageing in Emerging Markets (15-18 January 2015).
Young People and the Future of Emerging Markets (7-10 January 2016)
Health and the Environment in Emerging Markets (12-15 January 2017)
Migration and the Future of Emerging Markets (12-14 January 2018)
The topics were chosen on the basis of judgements about the ripeness, timeliness and (from emerging market perspectives) urgency of issues; how they were being addressed in other forums; and the readiness of the EMS to tackle them.
Once a topic has been chosen the designs of EMS symposia has been guided by a process that begins with a review of existing research and conversations with recognized authorities to define its scope and the relative priority of the questions it will seek to answer. The programme continues to develop as participants are selected and invited and help shape the agenda.
The first four symposia ran for two and a half days, the fifth and sixth and seventh a half day longer. Each began with a full-length lecture that surveyed the ground to be covered. Other sessions were conversational. The final sessions on the second and third days were panel discussions with active chairing in which participants, took stock of progress. The final panel produced outline findings and recommendations for subsequent refinement in the Report on the symposium.
Communications and Outreach Processes
Assuming that, by the end of the symposium there is a story to be told the EMS seeks to translate ideas to actions using different means to reach different audiences including the public at large, opinion shapers, decision takers and policy makers. Outcomes can include questions as well as answers and the EMS has collaborated with other academic initiatives at Green Templeton College on issues that require additional research to provide a basis for sound policies.
Immediately after each symposium (usually the next day) the EMS issues a Press Release. Necessarily brief, it focusses on selected highlights and is distributed worldwide. Over the next several weeks the EMS works with participants (on the basis of agreements reached with them before and during the symposium) on articles, OpEd pieces and letters to editors for print and on-line publication. Radio and television interviews and discussions, some recorded during the symposium (but not in sessions) are also used. All media engagements are listed on the press and media pages on the website.
The Reports on the first five symposia, incorporating participant comments on drafts were published on the EMS website several weeks after the symposium. Beginning in 2015, the EMS launched an updated website to amalgamate the information into a more easily digestible format with improved content, appearace and utility.
The Report and the new website have four audiences:
The public at large.
Students, researchers and academics with related interests.
Journalists and others whose work helps to shape public opinion, particularly in emerging markets but also (because emerging market issues are global issues) in wealthy countries.
In light of this new effort to create the high-quality information provided by the Symposium in terminology comprehensive to the layman, the 2015, 2016 and 2017 reports took more time to produce, and maximized participant involvement in the drafting process, produced a more complete and more accessible publication and launched it in multiple locations (mainly in emerging markets). With keeping an increased participant and public engagement in mind, the 2015 and 2016 reports were launched in the House of Lords in London. Additionally, reports were produced and made available both in print and online in Arabic, Chinese, English, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. You can read more about our engagement in the news section of our website.
Broadcast and targeted communications can increase awareness, shift priorities and stir support for action among policy makers as well as the public at large. But country and corporate policies rarely change on the basis of what policy makers read in reports or on the web. Almost invariably (except in institutions of global governance) top down policy change depends on decisions based on the persuasive adaptation of generic propositions to specific country or corporate conditions. Accordingly, all EMS recommendations have been addressed to specific categories of actors including governments (mainly in emerging markets), corporations, civil organizations and multilateral institutions.
After every symposium, participants have returned to their spheres of influence armed with findings and recommendations. They have used their access to the highest levels of national governments and multilateral institutions, global and local corporations, universities and global and national civil society organizations such as the WEF to realign mindsets, challenge prejudices, implant ideas, change priorities, explain how generic propositions crafted at the EMS can be adapted to country specific circumstances and urge political action.
As every teacher knows, persuasion is less about 'eureka' moments of enlightenment than drip-fed arguments that convince individuals, communities, corporations and nations to open and eventually change their minds. Social, economic, political and cultural transformations are invariably gradual: a process of repetition rather than convulsion. But the process can be more direct, particularly in multilateral institutions. For example:
In December 2009 the EMS symposium on Health and Healthcare recommended multilateral action to address issues arising from the migration of healthcare professionals from emerging markets to wealthy countries. Six months later, participants in that symposium attended the WHO World Health Assembly in Geneva which adopted a Global Code of Practise on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. It was not an EMS initiative but there is no doubt the EMS contributed to it.
The business practices of a Sri Lankan corporation that helped its employees manage work, home and parenting commitments because it was good for employees, good for the company (staff retention and productivity and corporate image and reputation) and ultimately good for the nation were discussed at the symposium on Gender Inequality in 2013. As a direct result, several other major corporations (in different sectors) adapted and adopted similar measures and have in turn become exemplars.
In some EMS symposia, participants have stopped short of a firm recommendation having recognized the need for research to provide a grounded basis for changing policies and practices. The EMS is not a research organization but collaborates with other Green Templeton initiatives on researchable issues. For example, after the Health and Healthcare symposium concluded that potentially valuable policy changes could not be implemented without additional evidence, the EMS partnered with another academic initiative of Green Templeton College and two emerging market institutions in a project to evaluate the feasibility of coordinating health and healthcare policies across government departments.
Modalities and Participants
The EMS has a conversational format. First, because it would be absurd to bring 50 world leaders to Oxford to subject them to a series of presentations rather than engage in knowledgeable debate. Second, because useful outcomes to problem solving processes are invariably achieved through interaction and discovery. The potential value of EMS conversations is a function of candour as well as knowledge and candour depends partly on participants’ propensity to speak openly and partly on the safety and security of the environment. Accordingly, conversations are not recorded, the Chatham House Rule (see below) is strictly applied and the press and media are excluded from all but one (off site) session.
What Participants do for the EMS
EMS symposia have attracted more than 200 leading figures from government, the public, private and voluntary sectors, multilateral institutions and academe in emerging markets and wealthy countries. Its reputation is based on its choice of issues, the quality of its debates, the relevance of its recommendations and its capacity to follow through. But the most important factor is the calibre of its participants.
Participation in EMS symposia is strictly by invitation and is limited to a maximum of 50 individuals, who hold or have held senior positions in government, multilateral organizations, corporations and/or academe in emerging markets and/or wealthy countries. They are invited in light of their stature, knowledge and experience and their capacity to influence policies and practises in the public and/or private sectors and/or civil society. Many are former rather than current incumbents who enjoy ample degrees of freedom to convey personal views and are less subject to day to day shocks.
Because participants are invited in light of their diversity, expertise, stature and capacity for candid debate it is expected that those who attend EMS symposia, having accepted an invitation (and knowing their places could have been used by others) will come to the symposium; be present throughout the event; actively engage in free and frank conversation; and be willing to help communicate findings and recommendations in their respective spheres of influence.
What the EMS does for Participants
Having taken pains to identify and invite the right participants the EMS takes additional pains to ensure they find the opportunity costs of a symposium are justified by making strenuous efforts to ensure participants enjoy the events and find the outcomes useful.
The EMS has been extremely fortunate to receive generous financial support from the C&C Alpha Group (see below). Managing its financial resources with care, it strives to balance the comfort and convenience of participants with prudent financial management. It offers to make travel arrangements to and from Oxford for all participants (unless they wish to make their own) and, if necessary covers the costs of airfares for overseas participants many of whom combine their journeys to and from the UK with other business travel or pay their own fares. All overseas participants, irrespective of financial arrangements are driven to and from Oxford and convenient airports or London.
EMS symposia are held at Egrove Park, Oxford, a modern (Grade II listed) building in 37 acres of parkland built in 1969 as the Oxford Centre for Management Studies. From 1983 to 2008 it was the home of Templeton College until its merger with Green College. It is now the Executive Education Centre of the Saïd Business School.
Egrove Park is a safe, secure and tranquil environment, two miles from the city centre. It is a superb venue for the EMS which has exclusive use of the facility during symposia. The physical setting helps foster an informal atmosphere that promotes candour. Other factors in the creation of a secure environment for conversations include the exclusion of press and media from EMS sessions and the rigorous application of the Chatham House Rule which states that: "When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed". Established by the Council of the Royal Institute for International Affairs (RIIA) in June 1927 to encourage free discussion, the Rule promotes the frank exchange of views and opinions.
Off Site Events
The 2014 Symposium hosted an off-site event in addition to a dinner at Green Templeton College. This event was open to the EMS to a larger audience than can be accommodated at symposia. Attendees included members of Green Templeton College and interested parties from Oxford and London. The event, held in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, allowed participants the opportunity to visit other venues in Oxford. In 2017, the off-site event was held at the Sheldonian Theatre where Jeff Sachs gave the lecture to a registered audience of University students and academics. In 2018, the off-site event was held at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. Future symposia will feature comparable events.
Since 2008 multi-year sponsorship for the EMS has been graciously and generously provided by the C&C Alpha Group (CCAG). The Group is an international private equity firm with headquarters in London and offices in India and elsewhere. CCAG was established to serve as a holding company for a group of private investors who had been in the business of venture capital funding for over 30 years. CCAG has successfully incubated businesses in the fields of Healthcare, Hospitality, Real Estate, Aviation, Utilities and Agriculture throughout the world.
Patron of the EMS is Lord Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of the University of Oxford. The Steering Committee is chaired by Shaukat Aziz (former Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Pakistan). Its members are Sir George Alleyne (Chancellor of the University of the West Indies and Director Emeritus, Pan American Health Organization), Suman Bery (Chief Economist, Shell), Peter Bourne, (former Assistant Secretary General, United Nations), Tsung- Mei Cheng (Co-Founder The Princeton Conference), Michael Earl (former Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford and former Dean, Templeton College, Oxford), Saul Estrin (Founding Head of School of Management, London School of Economics), Alexandre Kalache (Co-President, International Longevity Centre Global Alliance), Serra Kirdar (Life Fellow, St Antony's College, University of Oxford), Sania Nishtar (President, Heartfile, Pakistan), and K. Srinath Reddy (President, Public Health Foundation of India). The Executive Group includes Michael Earl, Ian Scott (Executive Director, EMS and former Director, World Bank) and Cherian Thomas (CEO, C&C Alpha Group).
The Emerging Markets Symposium is an Academic Initiative of Green Templeton College and is integrated in the life and work of the College. It is managed and administered within the College, its communications are managed within the college and the EMS website is integrated with the College website. For the first time, the 2016 symposium allowed Green Templeton College Graduate Assistants, who previously only listened in and ensured the smooth running of the event, to actively participate in the discussions held at the Symposium. These students provided a fresh take on Young People in Emerging Markets by using their University MPhil and DPhil research as well as providing personal anecdotes and experiences. Many participants and speakers in EMS symposia are Fellows of the College. Previous GTC fellow speakers have included Sir Richard Peto, Linda Scott, Stephen Kennedy and Stuart Basten.
1 The term emerging market was first used by the IFC economist Antoine van Agtmael in 1981. Goldman Saks economist Jim O’Neill first used the term BRIC to describe Brazil, Russia, India and China in 2001
2 The EMS focusses on 20 emerging markets: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russian Federation, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey
3 See Sabina Alkire ‘Human Development: Definitions, Critiques, and Related Concepts’. OPHI Working Paper 36 and UNDP HDRO Background Paper 2010/01.
4 A summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: including a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and having a decent standard of living.
5 Final Report of The Commission on Human Security (co-chairs Sadako Ogata and Amartya Sen), United Nations, 2003