This document sets out ways that individuals can contribute to solving the issues raised by the Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape without formally entering the competition. 

Prize competition background

The Global Challenges Foundation is launching the ‘Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape’ in order to spark a global conversation and inspire fresh thinking about how international cooperation could be better organized to deal with the most pressing threats to humanity.

Catastrophic climate change, weapons of mass destruction, extreme poverty: the threats we face as a global community threaten our very survival. But unlike other communities we belong to and depend on – cities, villages, corporations, organizations, religious congregations, nations – the global community lacks a proper framework to make decisions and act effectively on matters of great common importance.

We need to re-shape the way we collaborate, the way we make decisions about challenges that affect everyone, everywhere, and the way we shape our responses to risks that threaten our world. For this to be possible, we must first start talking and thinking freely about what kind of new frameworks must be established for the global community to be able to tackle the great global challenges that humanity is facing today, and will face in the future.

The Global Challenges Foundation will award US$5 million in prizes for the best ideas on how to re-envision and re-shape global governance for the 21st century.

Opening the prize to everyone

Our founder, Laszlo Szombatfalvy has stated that the Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape competition should stimulate debate and new ideas across the world. He is clear that anyone might have an idea or the beginning of a good idea regarding the new shape of global cooperation, no matter who they are or where they are located.

With this in mind, the GCF wants to collect ideas from people even if they do not intend to submit a full entry to the New Shape Prize. And most importantly, the GCF wants people to make a significant contribution by helping the competition find its way to people who might have the ideas we are looking for.

Creating an expert inventory 

The objective of this exercise is to provide a way of taking stock of the people and places one has encountered, where there may be a high likelihood of finding truly innovative thinking. The Foundation primarily has in mind ambassadors, professors and other individuals who have wide knowledge of the ingenuity within a field or region. But it might also be employed by a faculty, group of friends or even an individual who wishes to dedicate some of their time and efforts in the pursuit of finding solutions to the greatest challenges of our time.

Perhaps you can come up with only one name or idea, and you may even be uncertain as to whether it will be of any relevance for the competition. But all leads are valuable, and no stone should be left unturned. Laszlo Szombatfalvy’s wish of reaching everyone is as ambitious as it is hopeful regarding the collective creativity and will of humankind to resolve the issues the Prize seeks to address. In order to get to where we need to be, we will need the help of as many members of the world community as possible.

Below is a list of questions that may be used in discussions by a group, or reflected upon individually. If, for instance, they are addressed at a roundtable, the facilitator might send them to the participants as background material to be reflected upon before the exercise. They can then be discussed one at a time during the event, where the ideas of one individual can hopefully spark the imagination of, and build on, someone else’s.

  • Are there experts on any of these topics that you know of?
    • Climate change 
    • Large-scale environmental degradation
    • Violent conflict
    • Extreme poverty 
    • Emerging risks 
  • Might any of these experts have ideas on global frameworks for cooperation around these issues?
  • Are there institutions/organizations where truly innovative work to tackle global challenges is carried out?
  • In the region/field you represent, are there hubs renowned for their innovative nature? These could be technological hubs, civil society actors, media houses or academic institutions. 
  • Are there practitioners within public institutions who have showcased particularly forward thinking on issues related to the Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape prize competition?
  • What, in your opinion, would a dream-team of thinkers working on these issues look like? What kind of experts should be included, and how may their respective skills complement each other?

After concluding the discussion, or individual thinking, please send the suggestions to: [email protected] and the Foundation will make sure that these relevant individuals or organizations you have chosen are personally alerted of the existence of the Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape and its US$5 million prize. 

Background material



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