Global Challenges call for global solutions – but the very structures that could offer such global solutions are the ones currently facing the worst gridlock. This observation was the main driver behind the New Shape Prize. As an independent institution, the Global Challenges Foundation was in a unique position to bring together a coalition of the willing gathering the world’s best thinkers and doers, and direct their energy towards this crucial question: how might we develop global institutions adapted to the challenges of the 21st century?
We cast a wide net, attracting teams from 186 countries and collecting more than 2700 proposals. For pragmatic reasons, in this first step, proposals were kept deliberately short. We started with as few assumptions as we could, looking for suggestions that – to use the language of design and innovation – would indicate a potential solution space for the challenge we are aiming to address. In the end, ideas fell into four broad categories: reform of existing global institutions, new institutions within traditional frameworks, models beyond the traditional, and movements for global governance reform. From those ideas, fourteen were presented as finalists at the New Shape Forum in May 2018, and three were awarded a prize sum of US$600,000 each.
Ideas can change the world. However, for them to do so, a process is required: those ideas must establish themselves in the minds of people who start believing in them, as new value systems and new narratives. They must become proper implementable models, policy frameworks, institutional blueprints. This process, whereby bold ideas are made concrete in order to gain impact, marks a new phase in the journey of the Global Challenges Foundation. At the outset of the New Shape Forum, we invited the formation of working groups tasked with further iterating the most promising ideas that emerged through the prize competition: sharpening them, defining concrete mechanisms to bring them to life, and identifying first steps for implementation – turning those ideas into prototypes that could be tested with key stakeholders, and eventually made available to decision-makers.
The New Shape Process brought together five working groups, yielding concrete proposals to present at the November 2018 Paris Peace Forum. Those proposals form the bulk of this report.
As for all new things, those proposals are still somewhat tentative and imperfect – but those proposals also represent concrete progress on what may be the most important challenge of our times, and as such, a tremendous sign of hope. By their very existence, those proposals demonstrate that global governance innovation is possible. The worlds of business and technology are full of structures that support innovation – from start-up incubators to venture capital firms and pitch nights. Why is there no such ecosystem when it comes to upgrading the crucial institutions that global stability depends on? This is the question guiding the New Shape Process: how might we develop a replicable model for global governance innovation? As such, this report does more than present five promising results. It invites you to join in a global effort, led by the optimistic belief that human ingenuity can overcome gridlocks, and that it is in our power to develop the structures required by the pressing challenges that we face. The journey continues!