Where on Earth Will People Live in the Future? | Parag Khanna | TED

72,223 views

2022-07-29 ・ TED


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Where on Earth Will People Live in the Future? | Parag Khanna | TED

72,223 views ・ 2022-07-29

TED


Please double-click on the English subtitles below to play the video.

00:03
From the standpoint of human geography,
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why we live where we live in the world,
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it's actually driven by a fairly categorically organized set of variables.
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Those variables are colliding, but you can actually segment them.
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Demographic imbalances: the gap between young and old.
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Young people move to countries where wealthy aging populations need them.
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That's been happening for generations.
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Political upheaval: civil wars, international conflicts,
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such as we're witnessing right now,
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but of course, the 20th century had a lot of these as well.
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So large refugee flows, for example.
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Economic dislocation, like financial crises,
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when we have those people move away from areas
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that have become deindustrialized, for example,
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like the Rust Belt of the United States or Southern Europe.
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Technological disruption.
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That can be AI and automation,
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forcing you away from the place where you had a stable job.
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But it could also mean Zoom.
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You can live anywhere, do this call, do your job from anywhere.
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So positive and negative.
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And of course, climate change,
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which is actually the original driver of where we live,
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and it's coming back.
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It was the driver of where humans have settled
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for hundreds of thousands of years,
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and now it's changing.
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And if you take all of these together and multiply it by the connectivity,
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all of the infrastructure that we have built to enable human mobility,
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you get a world in which we’re going to use that capacity for mobility,
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and we're going to have mass migrations
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potentially on a scale we've never seen before.
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And that's what I want to dive into a little bit right now.
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So let's start with the climate angle.
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This map actually shows you the present distribution of the world population.
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This is it, all of us, you,
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wherever you are, you are a pixel on this map.
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There's eight billion pixels here.
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Now, watch what happens, tragically,
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as climate change advances
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and as what is called the suitability of a geography changes,
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in other words, the suitability for human habitation and survivability.
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Now, what you just saw happen is an animation
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that reflects what’s called the Suitability Index,
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derived from measurements of temperature change.
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There's obviously many other climate-related factors as well,
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rising sea levels, among others.
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But this is strictly based upon temperature.
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And red doesn't mean you cannot live there,
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but it means that it's becoming decreasingly suitable for human life,
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whereas green means that relative to how it used to be,
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it's becoming more suitable for human life.
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Now, this is the greatest irony in the entire world today.
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I can think of no more profound paradox that we've ever encountered than this.
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Think about what I showed you before.
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Most of the human population lives in places
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that are basically turning red.
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The places that are green right now on your map
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are places that are depopulating.
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Less and less people
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as a result of old age and mortality and low fertility rates.
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So the rich countries of the world, the United States, Canada,
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Europe and so forth, Russia, Japan would actually be declining in population,
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Russia most certainly is,
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were it not for immigration.
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This is what we have to solve.
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This is the profound challenge.
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In one picture that's worth millions of words,
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this is the world that we seem to be headed towards.
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We need to figure out how eight billion people reside on this landmass.
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The territorial area on this map is 150 million square kilometers.
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There are eight billion of us.
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Where do we go to optimize our own survival as a species?
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And because of the lines that are missing on this map, the borders,
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this becomes a lot more difficult
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than it would be if we could simply wander wherever we wanted to
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the way we did when we were populating the continents
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over the last 100,000 years.
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Now, over the last 30 years,
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this has been a stable migration arrangement in the world.
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The largest number of people moving within and across regions
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is documented for you here.
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And it's people within the former Soviet republics,
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so Ukrainians to Russia, Russians to Ukraine.
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Now Ukrainians out of both Russia and Ukraine.
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South Asians moving to the Persian Gulf countries.
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Latin Americans moving north into Central and North America.
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Europeans within Europe and so on.
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This is what’s been steady flows, if you will, of people
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over the last 30 years.
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But the next 30 years won't be exactly the same.
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And that we, again, don't have a map for,
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there isn't even really a historical precedent
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for that kind of movement across regions, across continents, as we might see.
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Now, the second demographic factor here is
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our overall world population.
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All of this is happening at a time when,
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instead of the world reaching 15 billion people,
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as some predicted in the 1980s and 1990s,
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instead it could well be that our world population
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never even reaches 10 billion people.
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So I call it peak humanity.
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Fertility is declining.
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Again, note the mismatch.
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The wealthy countries of the north
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are the ones that are shrinking in population,
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whereas young countries of the South and the developing world
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still have very large, young populations.
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And we need to find ways to correct that mismatch
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if we want to have a global population that is sort of, you know,
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stable and willing to reproduce.
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Not that we want to have a population surge,
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but we don't want to crash either.
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We need to think about how young people can cope with climate, with geopolitics,
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with the economic pressure,
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and live in places where they can still produce
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a sizeable next generation of people.
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What's happening right now
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is that young people aren't having any children.
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And that's going to actually lead
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to a very steep population crash in many ways.
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So this got me thinking about how young people think.
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And this forms a big part of the argument of the "Move" book,
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because when we, and I don't mean we as in every one of you,
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but when people who are say, my age or older, Gen X or,
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you know, baby boomers,
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we speak very confidently in this sort of,
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you know, plural pronoun,
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you know, as if our views represent the views of people in the world.
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Young people in cities who don’t have children who are struggling,
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that’s the future of humanity.
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It’s the present and the future of humanity.
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And I'm interested in the things that we can do
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to make life better for those people,
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because they are the present and the future
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of our species' population.
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And they do think very differently from previous generations.
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They're not loyal to nationality,
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they're more interested in certain sets of values.
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And those values, that have been very well documented,
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are the right to connectivity,
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a sustainable world and mobility, their own right to be mobile.
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In fact, this is the most mobile generation in the history of the world,
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because not only do we have the tools, the physical infrastructure to do it.
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But again, the things that have pinned people down primarily
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are home ownership and having children.
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But if people don't own homes and don't have children,
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then they are by definition quite mobile,
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especially if they're not even loyal to their home country
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for the sake of it.
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And so where will young people go
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is a very important question that I'm trying to answer.
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What are they looking for?
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Places that offer opportunity,
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work, particularly professional opportunities,
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educational opportunities, a decent quality of life,
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political stability, climate stability,
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the basic things that you would expect.
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But we need to be clear that countries need to retrofit themselves,
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retool themselves, to try and attract
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and provide those kinds of environments for young people.
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And that's where young people are going to want to go.
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And countries, I believe, are going to be engaged in a war
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for young talent,
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to attract those young people as they are aging.
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So there is a road map for us to untangle ourselves from this dilemma
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of geopolitical fragmentation,
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a climate-stressed world,
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a declining population,
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youth that are insecure.
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What are we supposed to do?
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Well, the thing is, you know, we can't predict the future,
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but we can make scenarios.
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So I've constructed these four scenarios along these axes
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of more or less sustainability and more or less mobility.
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And the truth is that all of these are visible today.
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We are in a world where regions like Europe act like fortresses.
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They're investing in their own sustainability,
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but they try to ward off migration.
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We live in a world that's medieval, a world that is conflictual,
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in which people are thrust into survival mode
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of hunter-gatherer lifestyles.
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When there is a drought or when there's a flood
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or they're fleeing civil war and conflict
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and they're trying to cross borders like the US-Mexico border,
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trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea,
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where countries are engaged in land grabs and water wars to acquire resources.
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But we also live in a world where there are countries like Canada,
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which is opening itself up, that's bringing in hundreds of thousands,
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about 400,000 new migrants every single year,
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one percent of its population.
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There are a couple of European countries
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that are realizing that they need to do this as well,
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and are kind of changing their tune around immigration.
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And they're trying to do so in a sustainable way,
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focusing on building affordable housing, decarbonizing their economies,
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or at least reducing emissions and so forth.
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The fact is that all of these scenarios are happening at the same time.
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It's incumbent on us to shape the direction that the world goes in
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or that the regions that we live in go in, in the future.
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Geography is what we make of it.
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You know, we have the tools at our disposal
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to build a different model of civilization.
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And for me, that rests on two principles or two things that you can do.
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You are either moving people to places where there are resources
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that are abundant so they can survive,
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or you're moving technologies to people,
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to the places where they need them.
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You're doing one of those two things.
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If you're not doing one of those two things,
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you should think about how much you're helping the future, if you will,
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and the people of the present and the future.
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The second is, I obviously advocate for mobility as a human right.
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That doesn't mean that we tear down all borders.
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It means that we create systems
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where the mismatches between old and young,
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labor shortages and labor supply,
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sustainable and unsustainable locations is corrected.
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And we can do that, but we don't.
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We obviously have to think beyond sovereignty,
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therefore to stewardship of the global commons.
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We have to pre-design these habitats of the future,
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which is to say, thinking about allowing people to be perpetually mobile
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as they need to be in response to geopolitics,
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in response to climate change,
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but do so in a way that doesn't trample upon the environment.
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Whitney Pennington Rodgers: TED Member Kim has a question.
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Kim asks, "Immigration to the US seems impossible.
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How do we shift the attitude towards welcoming immigrants here in the US?"
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And their question is US-focused, but I think this can apply anywhere.
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How do we shift the attitude everywhere to welcoming people into borders?
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PK: It is a universally relevant question, especially again, in the developed,
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mature Western economies and societies
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that have had a lot of friction and a lot of backlash
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and caution about large-scale immigration,
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at least in the last, say, 10, 15 years.
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And that's the US, Canada, you know, Western European countries, Japan,
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all of them are changing to some degree.
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The question is how rapidly?
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You know, Canada really stands out as a country that's welcoming in,
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as I mentioned before, you know, 400,000 people a year,
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one percent of its population, as a target growth.
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But the US, you know, as bureaucratic as it is,
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as contentious as it is,
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and the fact that during the Trump years,
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immigration began to decline and then because of COVID, you know,
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became even harder.
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But let me tell you something very special about America.
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This year, according to a congressional delegation I just hosted in Singapore,
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the US will probably have one million new migrants this year.
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One million.
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I want to be absolutely clear.
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No country on Earth goes from 200,000 to one million overnight by design.
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And that's America, right?
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So everything that's not gone well in immigration can be fixed
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and positively overcompensated by the kinds of reforms
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that are underway today: H-1B reforms, refugee reforms,
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skilled migration reforms, digitizing immigration,
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carrying over a certain,
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you know, frozen quotas from the past.
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All of these things are actually happening.
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Should it have happened years ago? Yes.
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Should it be happening faster? Yes.
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Should immigration policy be done in a way in which we focus
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on the shortages in our labor force, which are so many?
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We're hurting our own economy by having such a slow immigration process.
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We should have done all of this a lot earlier and to a larger degree,
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and this would have depoliticized immigration.
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So it's been to our own detriment.
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But can America actually fix these things faster than than we, you know,
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very rightly, cynically,
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especially if you've been on the wrong side of the immigration story
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and you've failed to cross a T on a form and it sets you back like, two years,
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you know, you're rightly angry and cynical about it.
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I mean, I'm an immigrant myself, I didn't move to America till I was six.
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I remember becoming a citizen, I know my parents sweated that paperwork,
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I watched them do it.
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But these things can be fixed
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and no one can fix it like America can, that's for sure.
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So there's a lot of hope in that.
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And again, European countries are changing.
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Germany brought in, you know, more than a million,
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again, not by design, not intentionally, but think about the Syrian refugee crisis.
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More than a million people arrived in Germany.
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A lot of them have stayed.
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More are coming now from Ukraine.
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And they've managed their politics
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to fend off, you know, right-wing populist parties.
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They have a center-left coalition right now.
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So Canada, the US, Germany, the UK, despite Brexit,
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it's easier to move to the UK today than during Brexit.
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I’m not sure people realize this.
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Because they again have had massive shortages in nursing and truck drivers,
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you name it.
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So there's just two kinds of countries in the world,
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those that have realized they need more migrants
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and those that haven't, right?
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And those in the former category are the smarter ones.
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And they're going to come out ahead in the war for young talent.
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WPR: TED member Heidi has a question,
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"We've seen that governments and countries veer nationalistic and xenophobic
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when there are a flood of immigrants.
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How can we future-proof our democratic systems against this reactionary outcome?"
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PK: For one thing, you know, I don't posit that immigration itself,
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as in "let the people in," is some kind of panacea.
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I am a strong believer in assimilation.
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And one of the key things around future proofing
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is maintaining your kind of, national ethos,
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national identity, national culture.
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But culture doesn't mean the way things were for the last 400 years,
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and it's never allowed to change from that, right?
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That's a very archaic, you know,
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ethnically and sort of, chauvinistic approach to the issue.
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Culture is valuable.
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Culture evolves, culture changes.
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If you look at a country like Canada,
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again, multiculturalism is the identity of the country.
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The UK is changing its rules to make it easier to come in.
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That's a fact.
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It's a legal fact that you can now come into the UK without a job offer,
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without paying a security bond.
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We've got these massive immigration reforms.
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So, Japan, there have never been as many foreigners in Japan
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as there are today.
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So even in a place that we think of as very culturally insular, right,
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even there, you've got a large-scale migration.
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So there is zero, zero truth to the statement
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that the world is governed by right wing,
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xenophobic populists that are anti-immigrant.
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It is precisely the exact factual opposite of that, right?
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The important countries of the world
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are governed by pragmatic leaders
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that are recognizing the importance of large-scale immigration
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as part of their economic health and their social dynamism.
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That is how the important countries in the world are run today.
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That's the way they have been run for 75 years.
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If that weren't true, we wouldn't be having this conversation
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because, you know, all of us who are migrants wouldn't have migrated.
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We never would have been let in.
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WPR: There are some people who may push back on that, right,
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and say that, well, we still see struggles with inequality
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and that, you know, things are not fair and great
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for people who do come to those countries.
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And I wonder if there are specific things that you think could be done better
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even in those spaces,
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but that are really success stories
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that I think nations that are looking to invite people in
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can really take on to ensure that everyone does feel
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like they have a good life.
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PK: There are really good lessons learned,
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and this is not pie-in-the-sky thinking.
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This is one of the major areas of political social research,
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which is to say, what can we do?
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So if you look at smaller European countries like,
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let's say the Netherlands, right,
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they have a really strong language adoption policy.
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There is no way you'll get Dutch citizenship unless you've learned Dutch,
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for example.
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And Germany is making this clear as well in a much larger country,
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which is, you know, you definitely have to learn German.
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And I think that's actually pretty important.
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I don't seek to suppress people's original, you know,
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identities and their languages.
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But it is a fact that if you actually want to not be a burden
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on your host society,
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but actually be a contributor and be welcomed by, liked by,
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respected by all segments of the society that is your new home,
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you will do a much better job of it if you learn the language.
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And this is like, you know, the kind of thing we’d say, OK, well,
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can't we spend a few bucks on that?
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You know, how about we allocate some money to do some language training,
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and that would actually go a really long way.
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So jobs, skills, education, language, public housing.
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So, this is something that’s done in Singapore, where I live right now.
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You know, you've got universal public housing.
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And if we did more around affordable housing,
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that would diminish the inequality,
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and inequality obviously skews in many countries,
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in immigrant societies,
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towards the newly-arrived people who don't have the economic means.
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So well, we can fix that, right?
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I mean, there's a physical solution to inadequate public housing.
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It's called building more housing, right?
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And you know, if you look at places again, like Canada,
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the Netherlands, France, this is happening in Finland.
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Lots of countries are building lots more affordable housing
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and it's actually helping to change some of the local tensions.
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So these answers emerge not from pie-in-the-sky thinking,
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but from the real experience of real countries.
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And there are real policymakers and journalists
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and civil servants who have done these things.
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It's good news that there's really a pretty clear road map
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on how to do this and how to make people feel welcome
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and how to have everyone again, be better off.
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[Get access to thought-provoking events you won't want to miss]
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[Become a TED Member at ted.com/membership]
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