Where do governments fall short?

Jean-Francois Rischard: As I did in my book, I analyzed some 20 global problems in some detail. And about eight of them . . . seven or eight of them were problems of sharing the planet. In other terms, the environmental issues like climate change, ozone, biodiversity losses, deforestation, water deficits and so forth. About a third of them had to do with sharing not so much the planet, but sharing our humanity. In other terms, economic and social issues that take a worldwide coalition to solve, like poverty itself; education for all, which could be the big lever to solve the other issues; peace keeping; terrorism fighting is another one; and many other such issues, including the terrifying issues of AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, SARS, avian flu and other contagious diseases; as well as natural disaster mitigations. Natural disasters are running at 15 times the rate of the 1950s. And then the third group of issues I looked at have to do with regulatory issues where you need some minimal critical mass of global rules. Biotechnology research, for instance; electronic commerce; migration and labor rights, etc. And as I looked at these issues, I found that they all had politically and technically feasible solutions, even climate change. I found that to solve them would take probably only $1 trillion a year, which is roughly three percent of world GDP, and therefore affordable, and a small number compared to the huge cost of not solving an issue like climate change. On the other hand, I find that these were issues that could not . . . We couldn’t wait 30, 40, 50 years to solve them. They had to be solved yesterday, or in five years, 10 years, maximum 20 years. So it’s a one-time window to solve them before they get out of hand, particularly the environmental issues of the first group. And the fourth thing I found is that none of them – with the exception of ozone, which is the exception that proves the rule – none of these 20 issues were seriously being solved by the international system.

 

Global institutions are too small to deal with the biggest issues.

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