New report highlights global threats and the importance of governance
May 25, 2017  //  By:   //  Blog Post  //  No Comment

The Global Challenges Foundation (GCF) published a new report this week as part of its efforts to provide expertise and collaboration for the management of global threats. The Global Catastrophic Risks 2017 report describes the greatest risks to the greatest threats to humanity, and provides information on the crucial bodies and regulatory frameworks currently in place–within the system of global environmental governance–to manage those threats.

Discussing multiple threats around issues such as climate change, ecological collapse, biological and chemical warfare, and pandemics, the message behind the report is that “the decisions and actions we take today will shape our future for years to come; yet, the institutions we rely on to ensure peace, security, development, and environmental integrity are woefully inadequate for the scale and scope of the challenges at hand.” Effective global governance is therefore urgent.

Prof. Maria Ivanova, Director of the Center for Governance and Sustainability and Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston, authored the article on “Governance of Ecological Collapse.” In her piece, Prof. Ivanova stresses the importance of compliance to and implementation of international environmental agreements, especially considering these agreements are non-punitive and countries face no penalties for not meeting their commitments. For this purpose–Prof. Ivanova writes– “national reporting is the fundamental mechanism to entice and ensure implementation.” Ultimately, these agreements are about “creating a community of change agents around the globe.”

It is in this context that the Center for Governance and Sustainability has worked on the Environmental Conventions Project, a research initiative that studies the implementation of global environmental conventions. The project’s main outcome–the Environmental Conventions Index (ECI)–brings empirical evidence to the assessment of the process of implementation. Measuring not just reporting but also implementation, the findings reveal the importance of scorecard diplomacy, or the influence of ratings and rankings. With global agreements, countries have the opportunity to learn from each other in tackling common goods such as the environment. The project’s manager, Natalia Escobar-Pemberthy, recently received her Ph.D in Global Governance and Human Security from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Recently, the GCF also launched A New Shape Prize, a global competition open to any individual or group which awards $5 million for the best proposals on new global governance frameworks. The foundation seeks to bring “new shapes” for international cooperation with innovative approaches that have the ability to address current issues such as poverty, climate change, and global conflict.

Ultimately, the mission of these initiatives is to understand the importance of global risks. As stated by Laszlo Szombatfalvy, Chairman of the GCF, “without an intimate knowledge of these threats, we cannot even begin to work on models that can help us manage, reduce and, preferably, eliminate them more rapidly, effectively and equitably”.

Prof. Ivanova also serves as Global Ambassador for the GCF.

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