Meeting Global Challenges Means Revamping Governance Systems
The world needs new governance systems to deal with complex global challenges at a time of profound and rapid technological change brought on by the Fourth Industrial Revolution; A discussion of values is crucial for any recasting of governance systems to succeed
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates The world is ill-equipped to address complex global challenges that require collaboration at a time of rapid and profound technological changes, warned experts on leadership, governance and technology in the closing session of the World Economic Forum’s Summit on the Global Agenda 2015.
“Are we investing enough in institutions that enable the platforms [to accommodate] different perspectives?” asked Diana Farrell, Chief Executive Officer and President of JPMorgan Chase Institute in the US. “We need a common platform to connect the dots. But we are so far away from that.” Governments can take a long time to produce legislation and implement major programmes, and once they do the policies may already be obsolete, Farrell reckoned. Politics can get in the way too, she noted. “We have a disconnect between people who are trying to address real problems and the political show. Having closer accountability and judging politicians on their jobs rather than random political narratives would help a lot.”
Attempts to recast governance systems for the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (so they are more responsive and responsible in addressing the major global challenges) may not work if attention is not paid to what the end result should be. “As you build technologies that go vertically deep, you have to think about the whole ecosystem,” Sara Menker, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gro Intelligence in Kenya, remarked. “What is the world we want to see and, from there, we have to seek and design actively the world we want.”
That can be enormously challenging in a world of relentless change. “If we are constantly trying to get ready for what is coming, we will never be ready for anything,” Menker observed. “It is really about balancing between addressing immediate needs and thinking about the future.”
But amid the volatility and continuous transformation, is it even possible to determine the world that we do want? “People’s attitudes move faster than social norms,” said Eldar Shafir, William Stewart Tod Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University in the US. Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford in the UK, saw the challenge in generational terms. “We have got to think in a more millennial way about the institutions we are designing. If new technologies are going to embed norms, then we need fantastic global processes for generating those norms. It really ups the change.”
Despite all the changes going on in the world, “we have institutions that give us that moment of stillness with which we can build trust with one another,” Woods explained. “Let’s remember that we do need that stillness of institutions to build trust and develop this process of norm-setting.” Values, too, are crucial. “We see values as helping get the direction we want and as crucial in providing the motor and means to get there,” said Stewart Wallis, Executive Director of the New Economics Foundation in the UK and the Vice-Chair of the Global Agenda Council on Values, speaking from the floor. “Having the values discussion is essential for our goals and how to get there. Otherwise we won’t make it.”
Later, in closing remarks, Philipp Rösler, Head of the Centre for Regional Strategies at the Forum, told participants that the summit had demonstrated how important it is to bring to the table the Forum’s brain trust. “We are convinced that we can only deal with all the global challenges with a public-private mindset,” he said. Summit Co-Chair Ali Majed Al Mansoori, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, acknowledged that it may take time for ideas and proposals to become actions that have impact. Concluded fellow Co-Chair Sultan Saeed Nasser AlMansoori, Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates: “We are working together for one agenda a better world that we want to have. There is no more critical time to have this exchange of ideas.”
The 8th Summit on the Global Agenda, the third to be held in Abu Dhabi, brought together over 900 thought leaders and experts from academia, government, business, civil society and the media the members of the World Economic Forum’s network of 86 Global Agenda Councils. The goal of what is the world’s largest global brainstorming exercise is to formulate crosscutting solutions to, and actions on, some of the world’s toughest challenges. Many of these ideas and proposals will inform the deliberations and debates at the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2016 in Davos-Klosters.
These are among the outcomes of the summit discussions, reported by the Global Agenda Councils:
The identification of principles from the software industry that might apply to governments and institutions to help them make the right decisions in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
A new framework to help countries and cities measure their readiness for digital media and their ability to use these tools to deliver economic and social benefit.
A pilot project, enlisting the support of the local Global Shaper community, to improve urban forests in Bengaluru by “re-greening the canopy”.
A competition to promote innovative ways to improve access to justice and create greater social cohesion in Latin American countries.
An Arctic Investment Protocol to underscore sustainable development in the region, where infrastructure needs have been placed at $1 trillion.
Initiatives to tackle human trafficking, illegal mining and the trade in counterfeit goods.
A New Vision initiative to protect each of the world’s oceans through public-private partnership.
An interactive website to promote and encourage the digital economy in Russia that aims to attract 1 million visitors in its first month.
Measures and partnerships to promote greater travel integration through regional visa mechanisms.
A white paper that outlines the benefits to businesses of embracing the ageing population.
A study that warns of the growing problem of the illicit economy now estimated at $1 trillion and identifies ways for stakeholders to fight back.
A report on how financial technology, or fintech, companies can provide much needed relief for SMEs, helping to close the $2 trillion funding gap for SMEs worldwide.
The inaugural list of the top urban innovations, highlighting best practices to help cities overcome the huge pressures brought on by urbanization, as the number of city-dwellers is set to grow by more than 2 billion by 2050.
The Co-Chairs of the Summit on the Global Agenda 2015 are Sultan Bin Saeed AlMansoori, Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates, and Ali Majed Al Mansoori, Chairman, Department of Economic Development, Abu Dhabi.