Government systems remain local, based on proximity, in a globalising world. So says Pascal Lamy, former Director General of the WTO, on launching the Oxford Martin Commission report, ‘Now for the Long Term’.
The classical response to this challenge (globalising local problems), acknowledging the power and drivers of national sovereignty, is to establish international organisations requiring all, or a great majority of national governments to commit to eg UN, etc. But in the past 10-15 years, this approach has produced almost no progress on key challenges eg climate change.
A second approach is based on regional integration (regionalising local problems), most notably EU but also ASEAN, APEC, MERCOSUR, African consortia, etc. – some success on some issues, but limited progress on others and growing opposition of ‘nativist’ movements.
In order to search for a 3rd way, which reduces or bypasses the block of national sovereignty, the Oxford Martin Commission compared ten global issues that had been dealt with effectively eg HIV, CFC destruction of ozone layer, with ten that have failed eg financial regulation, climate change. The key to success rested on effective creative coalitions (localising global problems), often bypassing national governments, and involving, business, civil society movements that are ‘naturally global (eg Friends of the Earth) and sub-sovereign organisations (eg major city powers). These coalitions are tasked with addressing climate change, developing an early warning platform to identify emerging threats, and a city-based network to fight the rise of non-communicable diseases
In the ‘Now for the Long Term’ report, recommendations are made to renew institutions and processes to fit the modern environment, revalue the future by removing the many structural and legal biases against future generations, investing in younger generations and establishing a collective vision for society.