Communique: World Manufacturing Forum 2012

Stuttgart, Germany
16-17 October 2012

Manufacturing can play the primary role in a global recovery from the economic crisis that has marked – and marred – the start of this new Millennium. And manufacturing must take the lead in developing sustainable technologies and products, without which, as has become increasingly clear, the earth’s shrinking resources and growing population are certain to be at profound risk.

Two days of discussions among more than 400 participants who traveled here from the far reaches of the globe have produced an inescapable conclusion: A new industrial order is quickly unfolding as supply networks globalize, pressure to conserve energy and raw materials grows, technology changes rapidly and, on every continent, demand strengthens for skilled workers able to understand increasingly complex production technologies.

All aspects of this new order pose significant challenges. They must be addressed immediately, and overcome in relatively short order, if humanity is to make the revolutionary step to an industrial paradigm that nurtures the planet and enables hundreds of millions, even billions, of additional inhabitants to live decent and dignified lives.

For this to happen, it is imperative that industrial best practices be shared globally so that all enterprises engaged in the manufacture of goods have access to technologies that can radically reduce consumption of materials and energy. The same sharing of best practices holds true for those in government, whose duty it is to craft policies that incline firms toward a high-road strategy for the development of their workers and the rapid adoption of new technologies, and to foster an environment congenial to the industrial system’s becoming far more efficient and productive than it has been up to the present.

A “real” economy is one that creates value and jobs while also providing the income governments need to administer programs upon which the protection, health and general well-being of large societies depend. Economies that in recent years have resorted to the use of credit to support such essential sectors as construction and housing have become unstable, bringing the world to a new level of uncertainty. In contrast, economies that have remained focused on innovation, upgrading manufacturing processes that were already in existence and embracing products and technologies that are totally new, have demonstrated greater relative strength in the face of the headwinds.

The world has no time to waste in committing itself to the support of a manufacturing sector that is at once vibrant commercially and cognizant that its own future and that of human society as well depend upon contributing to the  creation of a sustainable global economy. Manufacturers, policymakers, worker representatives and bankers must share their knowledge: They must agree on common goals and, together, apply the lessons they have learned to every industrial operation in business today.

The World Manufacturing Forum intends to remain the leading advocate of this endeavor. We leave Stuttgart with a commitment to ensuring that the dialogue continues, so that every company, every government and every citizen can enter a future made healthier, safer and more prosperous by a new generation of manufactured products. And it will continue, at the Forum’s third annual meeting, already scheduled for next October in Washington, D.C.