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Dear Presidents Trump and Putin, we would like to offer you some solutions to the world’s thorniest problems!

Sitra's open letter to the Presidents visiting Finland challenges these leaders of major powers to create faith in the common future.


Jukka Vahti

Project Director, Digital power and democracy


Dear Presidents,

When you meet in Helsinki this coming Monday, your agenda will include important security issues that affect the entire world.

We propose a few truly pressing security issues  which require urgent action, preferably together with the entire international community – alongside your important topics of discussion

It is these issues, in particular, that will determine whether Russians, Americans and all of us can have faith in a better future.

They are vital because, without faith in the future, as individuals and as a worldwide community we will have lost everything, which would be more dangerous than all the armies and weapons in the world combined.

That is why we suggest a wider view than is traditionally taken of the future by discussing the waste-free circular economy; a data economy in which people manage their own data; and democracy’s development and modernisation in a way that genuinely harnesses and fuels human potential.

People are the key asset in transformation

To state our case briefly: the United States, Russia and the rest of the world must move from the stupid, waste-based economy to a smart circular economy and look towards a more participative form of democracy, if we want to see our national and global success stories continue.

This is because people throughout the world have been, and will continue to be, the key asset of transformation. Processes, such as the transition from the waste-based to the circular economy, can therefore only succeed if people and entire nations – from presidents to citizens – are committed to change. In turn, this can only be sustainably achieved through the involvement of citizens.

We happen to know quite a lot about these topics and solutions for resolving them, because Sitra, an independent Finnish think tank, has long been working to create a better future. If you wish, we can brief you on these topics either together or individually. You can find our contact details here.

We would welcome the presence of your advisers, because the more people that hear about these vital topics, the better.

Unless we turn over to a new page, faith in the future will diminish

Ah yes, you may think, Nordic navel gazing and the hair-splitting of researchers disconnected from reality, or the high-flying ideas of consultants, which will perhaps work in the conference room of a Helsinki office.

We beg to differ.

People are grappling with the same issues in Lieksa in Finland, in the Nobrysk oilfields and in the coal mining town of Grafton.

Faith in the future is in shortest supply wherever new ideas are thinnest on the ground. And it is precisely for this need, the need for ideas, that the topics we have proposed can provide locally and globally vital solutions.

For example, a carbon-neutral circular economy would create new jobs and greater wealth. In addition, as a more sustainable form of economy, it could save the entire planet.

In the light of this, honourable presidents, shall we roll up our sleeves and get started?

Shall we confront the greatest and most daunting challenges in human history together – those of combatting climate change, reducing inequality and promoting inclusion?

The human race has certain characteristic ways of reacting to fear and threats.

These are 1) flight, 2) playing dead, 3) confrontation and 4) concentrated presence of mind, by which we consciously tackle threats and the emotions they awaken.

Of course, we regard the last option as the most self-evident, because faith in the future will help each of us to spring into action. On the other hand, entire nations can be paralysed by fear of the future.

We will provide further information on our proposed topics over the next few days. You are welcome to comment and join the debate on Twitter, for example at hashtag #sinceyourehere

For further details and our contact information see

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