Today, mankind lives not only in national societies, but also in a global community. This means that the behavior and decisions of the inhabitants of nation states also impact the vital interests of inhabitants of other countries. Global warming may be the most obvious example: Greenhouse gas emissions in any particular country will have an impact on global climate change.

The world community is facing a number of major global challenges which have to be jointly managed by all countries through increased co-operation and an increased understanding of our interconnectedness. Other than climate change, the major problems and risks are other large-scale environmental damage and politically motivated violence (war, civil war, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction). Other major problems faced are extreme poverty and rapid population growth.

Rapid population growth – the global population has quadrupled over the last 100 years (which is one of the main reasons for the problem we face today), and is expected to increase by another 50 percent by the year 2100 – exacerbates all these problems. Despite this, and despite the knowledge that there are not nearly enough resources on the planet for the entire population of Earth to enjoy the current Western standard of living, the issue is not on the political agenda.

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. Today, these challenges are responded to using yesterday’s tools – multilateral negotiations which are susceptible to short-term national interests. As a consequence, the necessary action is either not taken or is taken too late, while the problems and risks continue to grow.

The Global Challenges  Foundation wants to challenge participants from all over the world to formulate alternatives to the present state of affairs – either by 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 minimizing challenges of the kind mentioned above.

The Task

The participant must design a governance model able to effectively address the most pressing threats and risks to humanity. In other words, the task is not to come up with direct solutions to specific problems. Rather, it is to design a general model for decision-making, with the aim of generating such solutions and the ability to do so, and possessing the resources to effectively implement them.

The governance model must also be such that it can be implemented within the foreseeable future. This requires that it be acceptable to major states and the wider international community. A significant measure of civic acceptance is also required. This requirement eliminates models that rely on time-consuming and controversial changes in the political system of individual states, e.g. models that postulate that all states should be democracies.

Furthermore, the governance model must involve a minimum of limitations to the sovereignty of nation-states, meaning that it should involve only such limitations as are necessary to ensure that national decisions do not seriously harm the vital interests of inhabitants of other countries, or of humanity as a whole. In other words, decisions within the governance model must not deal with the internal affairs of individual states.

The entries 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.

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

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

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

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

Assessment criteria

Entries will be assessed based on how well they can be expected to manage global challenges and meet the criteria listed below:

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 (e.g. due to parties exercising powers of veto).

3. Effectiveness.

The governance model must be capable of handling the global challenges and risks and include means to ensure implementation of decisions. 

4. Resources and Financing.

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

5. Trust and Insight.

The trust enjoyed by a successful governance model and its institutions relies on transparency and considerable insight into power structures and decision-making.

6. Flexibility.

In order to be able to fulfil its objectives effectively, a successful governance model must contain mechanisms that allow for revisions and improvements to be made to its structure and components.

7. Protection against the Abuse of Power.

A control system must be in place to take action if the organization should overstep its mandate, e.g. by unduly interfering with the internal affairs of nation-states or favouring the special interests of individuals, groups, organizations, states or groups of states.

8. Accountability.

It is a fundamental requirement of a successful governance model that it performs the tasks it has been charged with, and the governance model must include the power to hold the decision-makers accountable for their actions.