Today, mankind lives not only in national societies, but also in a global community. This means that the behaviours and decisions of the inhabitants of nation-states also impact the vital interests of inhabitants of other countries. The world community is facing a number of great global challenges which have to be jointly managed by all countries through increased co-operation and an increased understanding of our interconnectedness.

Global warming may be the most obvious example: Greenhouse gas emissions in any particular country impact global climate change. The list is long: other large-scale environmental damage, politically motivated violence (war, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction), extreme poverty, pandemics, the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, and extensive refugee streams.

The continuing rapid population growth – the global population has quadrupled over the last 100 years, and is expected to increase by another 50 percent by the year 2100 – makes all these problems worse. This issue is not taken seriously enough, even though it is common knowledge that there are not nearly enough resources on the planet for the entire population of Earth to enjoy a Western standard of living.

In order to manage these challenges, we need effective ways of making collectively binding, long-term decisions that take into account the interests of all those affected, including future generations. The system currently in place to manage these issues – including the UN and the organizations connected with the UN – are, in their present form, not up to the task. The lack of effective global governance leads to a continuous escalation of many of the global catastrophic risks.

The Global Challenges Foundation wants to challenge participants from all over the world to formulate alternatives to the present order of things – either by sufficiently complementing, strengthening and revising the present UN system, or by proposing completely new forms of governance. The proposals should be drafted with the aim of identifying and, as far as possible, preventing or minimising risks of the kind mentioned above.

The Task

The participant shall design a governance model able to effectively address the most pressing threats and risks to humanity. The governance model must also be such that it can be implemented within the foreseeable future. This requires for it to be acceptable to major states and the wider international community. A significant measure of civic acceptance is also required.  

The contributions must consist of the following three parts:

1. Abstract (no more than 1000 words) 

The abstract must summarize the design of the model, including the institutions, regulations, decision-making paths and control mechanisms it involves, as well as how key individuals and other decision-making bodies are to be appointed. You must clearly define the functions of the various components, their areas of responsibility and the extent of their decision-making mandate. Also, describe how the model is meant to manage both current and emerging challenges and risks.

2. Description of the Model (no more than 5500 words)

The document must be divided into subsections with clear and descriptive headings.

3. Argumentation demonstrating how the model meets the assessment criteria (no more than 2750 words)

For each of the criteria listed below, you must provide convincing arguments as to how the proposed model meets the criterion.

Assessment criteria

Contributions will be assessed based on how well they can be expected to meet the criteria listed below.  In some cases, ensuring that certain criteria are met may make it harder to realize others. In such cases, trade-offs must be made. How well participants manage such trade-offs will be an important factor in the assessment. Good ideas on how to establish the governance model in reality will also be considered in the assessment.

1. Core Values.

Decisions within the governance model must be guided by the good of all humankind and by respect for the equal value of all human beings.

2. Decision-Making Capacity.

Decision-making within the governance model must generally be possible without crippling delays that prevent the challenges from being adequately addressed.

3. Effectiveness.

In order to effectively address the global challenges and risks, the governance model must include means to ensure implementation of decisions. 

4. Resources and Financing.

The proposed governance model must have sufficient human and material resources at its disposal, and these resources must be financed in an equitable manner.

5. General Security.

The governance model must guarantee international security and prevent disputes from escalating into war or other large-scale armed violence. Nations and ethnic groups must be guaranteed protection from external attack and must receive assistance in handling internal disputes fairly.

6. Flexibility.

A successful governance model must allow revisions and improvements of its structure and components.

7. Accountability and Transparency.

It is a fundamental requirement of a successful governance model that it performs the tasks it has been charged with, and that decision-makers can be held accountable for their actions. This includes mechanisms against abuse of power, which can invalidate decisions and actions that exceed the mandate of the governance model, and which can step in when it is clear that decision-makers and relevant institutions are not doing their job correctly. This requires transparency and extensive insight into power structures and decision-making processes.