Alexander betts at the ted conference 2016
Alexander Betts speaks at TED2016 - Dream, February 15-19, 2016, Vancouver Convention Center, Vancouver, Canada. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

The RSC Director, Alexander Betts, has given three powerful and very popular TED Talks in 2015 and 2016.

TEDxVienna: What if we helped refugees to help themselves?

In autumn 2015, he was invited to speak at TEDxVienna and gave a passionate talk addressing some of the common misconceptions about refugees, and the problems with the EU response to the refugee influx. He described the situation of many refugees in protracted displacement situations, spending many years in camps with little hope or opportunities for work or education. In contrast he highlighted Uganda’s treatment of refugees. Here refugees have the right to work and some freedom of movement. They are engaged economically, in diverse ways, with local, national and even international economies. Betts highlighted lessons from Uganda for other countries, such as Jordan which at the time was home to over 600,000 refugees but did not give them the right to work. He asked the audience to “rethink refugees not just as vulnerable victims… but as people with potential if we invest in them and support them, to teach us many things, and contribute to our economies and our societies.”

Watch this talk here >>

TED2016: how can we fix our failing refugee system?

In February 2016, Betts gave a powerful talk on the refugee crisis in a packed closing session of the TED 2016 conference in Vancouver. In this talk, which has been viewed over 600,000 times, Betts calls for people to see refugees as individuals with skills, talents and ambitions, deserving of more than the inadequate choices currently available to them. “The current system is failing”, he says. “In theory, refugees have a right to seek asylum. In practice, immigration control blocks the path to safety. In theory, refugees are meant to receive a pathway to long-term integration or return. In practice, they get trapped indefinitely in limbo. In theory, refugees are a shared global responsibility. In practice, geography means that countries proximate to conflict take the overwhelming number of refugees. The system is not failing because the basic rules are wrong but because we are choosing not to apply them.”

Watch this talk here >>

TEDSummit: Four post-Brexit steps towards a more inclusive world

Finally, at the TEDSummit in June 2016 in Banff, Canada, Betts spoke on the topic of Brexit, in a talk that has been viewed over 800,000 times. He highlighted how the UK referendum vote to leave the EU grew out of a deep, unexamined divide between those that fear globalisation and those that embrace it. He calls for “a new vision, a vision of a more tolerant, inclusive globalisation, one that brings people with us rather than leaving them behind.” Paraphrasing Kofi Annan from a speech on the topic of inclusive globalisation, he says “The glass house of globalisation has to be open to all if it is to remain secure. Bigotry and ignorance are the ugly face of exclusionary and antagonistic globalisation.” Addressing the question of how can we achieve inclusive globalisation, he offers four ideas as a starting point.

Watch this talk here >>