Tackling intensifying and overlapping ‘global catastrophic risks’ requires urgent coordinated action to upgrade existing global governance frameworks, the Stockholm-based Global Challenges Foundation said in a report launched today.
The report, Global Catastrophic Risks, this year subtitled: Managing Risk Through Collective Action, is the foundation’s annual review of major global risks.
This year’s report consists of 12 essays by prominent experts from around the world, focusing on how the risks of climate change, ecological collapse and weapons of mass destruction intersect and exacerbate one another. For example; resource scarcity driven by climate change can spark social conflict; and rising sea levels and increased frequency of extreme weather events threaten the safety of nuclear facilities.
The authors include specific and detailed proposals for how the international community can adapt current systems of multilateral cooperation designed to address this complex intersection of risks.
Jens Orback, Executive Director of the Global Challenges Foundation, said:
“Following another year of intensifying global risks – and the increasingly severe consequences of our lack of action – it’s clear that our current frameworks for global cooperation are not keeping pace with the complexity of the intersecting threats we face. We need an urgent refresh of how we manage these challenges , involving both short-term changes and innovative, longer-term solutions.”
The report is released following the COP28 climate talks in Dubai which have not produced the action needed to limit global warming to safe limits. The report offers the international community clear prescriptions for reforming global governance to tackle global risks, including:
- Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), on how, by decarbonising the world economy by 2050, respecting terrestrial and ocean boundaries, and hoping that no tipping points are permanently crossed, we can come back from the inevitable overshoot by 2100 and protect the liveability of our planet.
- Tom Ellison, Deputy Director, The Center for Climate and Security, on how to strengthen and unify governance of global risks by integrating assessments of climate change and biodiversity, better managing conflict risks around minerals critical to the green transition and creating more uniform and enforceable standards on mining.
- Francesca Giovannini, Executive Director, Project on Managing the Atom, Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs, on how the interdependence between climate change and nuclear weapons requires an overarching, integrative approach, combining insights, expertise, and resources from across the spectrum.
- Joyeeta Gupta, Full professor on Environment and Development in the Global South at the University of Amsterdam, on how a new Global Constitution could effectively break the reinforcing cycle of injustice and global catastrophic risks.
- David Obura, Founding Director of CORDIO East Africa, on the need for stronger local frameworks to manage the impacts of global risks.
Jens Orback said that the need for immediate action was clear.
“We have already crossed several of the Earth System Boundaries, which detail the limits within which we must stay to protect the stability of Earth systems and human wellbeing and equity, but there is still time to turn this around.”