Globalized world demands new efforts for systemic institutions

By Klaus Schwab Source:Global Times Published: 2013-9-15 23:23:00

The barriers between political, economic and social issues have dissolved. The reality of our networked society is that global, regional and industry developments are intertwined and technological revolutions are disrupting our conventional decision-making processes. Today, to address these issues, the world needs a level of global cooperation that is increasingly difficult to attain, precisely due to the growing complexities in the world.

To adapt to a globalized world, we need to build institutions that take a systemic approach. Institutions will only be up to the challenge if they are designed to create coherence and overcome the compartmentalization inherent in the modern world.

They need to be driven by strategy and not crises, with energy focused on proactive rather than reactive measures. They must adapt to the changing world, not defend outdated modalities. In addition, they need to share the latest knowledge about the trends and outlooks that are shaping the global agenda in all its components: transnational, regional, industry, societal and cultural.

On all levels, institutions should embrace agility, permanently testing and upgrading the parameters and assumptions for decision-making, because the world is changing so fast.

The institution I have in mind is by design inclusive and effective, developing flexible, purposeful networks.

At the same time it is continuously demonstrating legitimacy through a clear mission statement, measurable objectives and full transparency.

Its actions must embody the ideal of global citizenship. In an interconnected world, it is in the enlightened interest of nation states to strive for solutions that truly address global challenges.

In this respect, the global system has to balance this vision with pragmatism and not become absorbed by bureaucracy. We need to be patient, committed and have the conviction to achieve these desired changes.

Leaders of many different kinds of organizations are increasingly turning to the World Economic Forum precisely, because they believe that the forum has met some of these challenges.

Over the past four decades, it has evolved into a globally recognized locus of multi-stakeholder cooperation. Its contribution to the global public interest has expanded and its relationship with the intergovernmental community has deepened.

The special utility of the forum's platform has rendered it a de facto element of the international institutional architecture: It is structuring multifaceted relationships with governments and international organizations that resemble the way official governmental entities relate to each other.

Indeed, many governments and international organizations now routinely seek the forum's participation in the specialized work they conduct out of a desire to engage non-state actors in uniquely informal, high-level discussions and initiatives that are free from bureaucratic constraints.

The forum is an informal and non-decision-making institution. As such, its evolution illustrates how the very nature and practice of international cooperation and governance are changing.

These lessons could be valuable for China as the growing complexity of the international system is presenting new cross-border challenges and making it even more difficult to resolve collective problems with official resources alone.

It is my hope that the forum can play a crucial role in incorporating the knowledge and other capabilities of non-state actors into the search for solutions to a wide range of global and regional problems. Its mission of "improving the state of the world" is reflected in activities that help in tangible ways to advance peace and reconciliation; commerce, investment and thus economic growth and opportunity; the broader mobilization of resources to address pressing social challenges such as poverty, disease and environmental degradation; cross-cultural, inter-generational and cross-disciplinary exchange and understanding; and technological development and diffusion.

I am proud that this summer meeting has become, over the past seven years, a twin of our annual meeting in Davos.

Working together with all stakeholders of global society, we can fully embrace the forum's motto and recognize that the recipe for survival and growth lies in entrepreneurship and innovation, always serving the public interest.

The author is founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

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