In the aftermath of the US elections, there can be no more relevant time to examine whether our current systems of global cooperation are fit for purpose. That is, are they designed to effectively tackle the most pressing threats to humanity: catastrophic climate change, other environmental ruin, various weapons of mass destruction and global pandemics?
The current political drumbeat against globalization and in favour of nationalism is deeply dangerous at a time when we face global risks that are unprecedented in their scale and complexity. These threats transcend national borders and can affect anyone anywhere on the planet. In an interconnected and interdependent world the international community has outrun its ability to deal with them.
Einstein pointed out, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” It follows there is no logical reason why a system of international bodies and agreements that has evolved over the 70 years since the Second World War should be suitable for governing the crises we face today.
When I founded the Global Challenges Foundation in 2012, I did so because I wanted to deepen insights into the urgent global risks we face. I also wanted to help to spark a conversation about how these threats could be better handled. That is the intention of this report. We have gathered perspectives from around the world and across disciplines in an attempt to catalyse discussion around potential new pathways.
Of this I am certain: bold thinking and urgent action are needed in order to address the interlinked and mutually reinforcing mega risks we face. These risks cannot be solved at the national level: the time has come to re-envision, to re-model our system of global governance. Our planet – and the very future of human life on it – depends upon it.