The first part of this report looks at institutional aspects of global governance, exploring the ways that institutions may better address today’s global challenges. It opens with a contribution by Helen Clark, former New Zealand Prime Minister and former UNDP Administrator, How could the UN be empowered to work more effectively. The United Nations are seen as a key potential actor in addressing today’s pressing challenges. However, the institution is seemingly incapable of taking appropriate action to solve ongoing crises around the world. Positive steps forward would include improving structures for collective decision-making, and empowering the Secretary-General to demonstrate and exert effective global leadership. 

Our current system of global governance has had remarkable achievements over the past 70 years, but in light of new challenges, it is showing a number of limitations. This is the premise of the second piece, International governance: balancing inclusion and efficiency, by Yoriko Kawaguchi, Fellow at the Meiji Institute for Global Affairs, and former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister of the Environment, and Member of the House of Councilors in Japan. With 193 UN countries holding a legitimate aspiration to be part of global decision-making, what is the best way to balance fairness and effectiveness in global governance? An important element will be the capacity to balance inclusive structures where all voices can be heard with smaller bodies – such the G20 or the World Economic Forum – where participation is more limited, but more effective decisions can be made.

In all parts of the world, a number of regional institutions have emerged to better address joint challenges and opportunities among neighbouring countries. Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, reflects on their growing importance in Regional collaboration: a perspective from Latin America and the Caribbean. Those regional institutions demonstrate that nation-states are willing to trade a measure of autonomy in exchange for greater economic integration, better management of joint projects and resources, or a stronger voice on the global stage. Latin America and the Caribbean have not been left behind, with a range of bodies promoting regional integration and strengthening connections with the rest of the world. These initiatives are opening new channels to overcome the geographic and regulatory fragmentation of a region with great untapped potential and, beyond, contribute to the development of a more robust global governance architecture. 

Trade has long been a driving force in promoting international collaboration. In light of current geopolitical changes, what new forms of economic cooperation will guide the future development of international trade and – beyond – of global governance? This is the question driving the contribution of Hu Shuli, Editor-in-Chief at Caixin media, Trade as a driver of international governance: China’s Belt and Road initiative. Indeed, China’s recent Belt and Road strategy represents an important development for global economic institutions. Unlike the rules-based order structured around the WTO, this initiative combines diplomatic coordination with project-based collaboration, investment and infrastructure partnerships, to better foster economic integration across countries.

In Reaping the economic benefits of peace while building peace, Camilla Schippa, Director at the Institute for Economics & Peace offers another lens on the relationship between trade and global coordination, with a piece anchored in the long tradition of articulating global governance and peace. In the aftermath of conflict, private sector development is critical for peace in the long run. However, all too often, business perceives the risks in post-conflict settings as too great, locking many fragile countries in aid dependence and economic instability. Not only could business activity contribute to peace in the right settings, business can also gain significant profits from high-opportunity post-conflict contexts. Targeted investments towards identified drivers of peace in fragile states and associated governance frameworks could therefore trigger virtuous cycles where peace and prosperity mutually reinforce each other.  

The consequences of today’s major challenges will extend far beyond the conditions affecting the people currently alive. Bringing the voice of future generations to the table is therefore fundamental. The first part of this report concludes with a piece by Alexandra Wandel, Director at the World Future Council in Hamburg, Guardians for future generations: towards a sustainable and peaceful world, which examines institutional developments intended to better address this issue. In the recent years, many countries have created new roles for official figures appointed explicitly to represent the rights and interests of those yet unborn. Giving such ‘guardians for the future’ a place in more regional, national and global forums is an important step to make sure that the major decisions we face today genuinely weigh more than the mere interests of the present.

The second part of this report focuses on the emergence of global citizenship, considering both ongoing challenges to this notion and the new forms of engagement, responsibility and solidarity that global citizenship entails. Lebanese journalist Ghida Fakhry opens this section with Global citizens call for global leaders. Recently, the young and charismatic figures of Macron and Trudeau have emerged as a possible new breed of political leader, harnessing their media-savviness to set a new vision of world affairs. Their success, however, echoes that of earlier leaders whose global rise to fame largely depended on their interaction with the media – such as Castro and Kennedy – and in spite of international appeal to new globalized audiences, their political destiny remains attached to domestic challenges. 

While people around the world identify in increasing numbers as global citizens, engagement with global governance remains practically non-existent, observes Manjana Milkoreit, Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, Purdue University, in Who cares about global governance. Indeed, a range of structural and cognitive barriers make it difficult to prioritize global challenges, identify their relevance, access decision-making forums, or simply bear the emotional burden associated with issues of existential magnitude. It is, therefore, of crucial importance that we better educate citizens about global governance, develop new models of engagement, and more clearly communicate about the role and impact of global institutions.

Education is the focus of the next contribution, Women’s education as a driver of global citizenship, by Graça Machel, Chancellor at the African Leadership University and the University of Cape Town, and President of the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies. Over the last three decades, the advent of the Internet age coupled with rapid globalization has enabled us to be better connected as global citizens. Despite gains in connectivity and interconnectedness across borders, societies around the world are still plagued by fragmentation and inequity. The well-coordinated action of civil society has become pivotal in countering such destructive forces. One certain solution to ensure a vibrant and engaged citizenry is to educate women and encourage their active civic participation.

The report finishes with a contribution by Sherri Goodman, Senior Advisor for International Security at the Center for Climate and Security and former U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, co-authored by Caitlin Werrell, Francesco Femia and Shiloh Fetzek from the Center for Climate and Security. A responsibility to prepare: governing in an age of unprecedented risks and unprecedented foresight proposes the following argument. In the face of rapid climatic, social and technological transformations, our current world order is facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty. However, this is balanced by considerable progress in our capacity to foresee those transformations and their possible effects. In this context, it is our strategic duty to change the way that we prepare for the future. We must anticipate the challenges of those rapid climatic, social and technological transformations, address associated risks in advance of catastrophe, and embrace our responsibility to prepare.