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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Old Dominion Experts Lead Global Threat Discussion at NATO Meeting

By Tom Robinson

Paul Olsen, director of Old Dominion University's federal, commonwealth and municipal programs and partnerships, briefed a NATO conference Thursday on the the University's multi-disciplinary efforts to combat sea level rise and recurrent flooding.

"The threat is manifesting right now," said Olsen, who moderated an expert panel discussion on global trends, threats and opportunities. The panel included Simon Serfaty, professor and Eminent Scholar of political science and geography at Old Dominion.

Sea level rise, Olsen said, "is very important for strategists to think about, no matter what country or alliance you're in."

Speaking before business leaders and international military officers at the Industry Engages NATO Symposium, held at the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club, Olsen praised Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's recent formation of the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency.

Olsen said the new center, a collaboration between Old Dominion and the College of William and Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science, "will bring together great minds and research to move us toward real-world applications that make our naval bases and Langley Air Force Base, all those facilities that are subject to rising seas, resilient to protect our future military readiness."

Olsen, a retired Army colonel, introduced the panelists: Rear Adm. Peter Gumataotao, Supreme Allied Command Transformation, Norfolk; Matthew Burrows, director of the Atlantic Council's Strategic Foresight Initiative; Mark Newcomb, council and vice president, ZIM Integrated Shipping Services, and Serfaty.

Serfaty is the first holder of the Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He was director of the center's Europe Program for more than a decade and remains a senior adviser to the program.

He stressed to the group the critical necessity of having allies, regardless of a nation's power, to create and maintain "an axis of stability."

It is an urgent time for the world, which "has entered into a moment of permanent crisis" that history suggests will improve or significantly worsen over the next four years, Serfaty said.

"Russia and Ukraine, Isis and Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, China and the potential hard landing of its economy, and loose nukes," Serfaty said. "That would be my starting five."

The symposium, in its third year, is organized by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to increase the number of Virginia companies that do business overseas and to increase the volume of that business.

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