at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Readers’ Guide: Global Redesign Initiative

Everybody’s Business: Strengthening International Cooperation in a More Interdependent World is a 600-page report from the World Economic Forum’s Global Redesign Initiative. The World Economic Forum, better known simply as Davos, convenes annual gathering of leaders from the corporate world, government, media, public culture, and civil society in Davos-Kloster, Switzerland and in similar regional locations around the world. 

Their report is the most comprehensive proposal for re-designing global governance since the formulation of the United Nations during World War II. The Global Redesign Initiative report also includes a broad array of theme-specific policy options design to repair holes in the current inadequate response to a range of global crises and to experiment with their proposed new global governance principles. 

The thematic proposals cover an extraordinary range of public policy areas including  global investment flows; educational systems; systemic financial risk; philanthropy and social investing; emerging multinationals; fragile states; social entrepreneurship; energy security; international security cooperation; mining and metals; the future of government; ocean governance; and ethical values.. What sets the World Economic Forum's proposal apart is that it was developedas a cooperative effort of over 750 experts from the international business, governmental, and academic communities working in sixty separate task forces. 

This Readers' Guide by the Program on Governance and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts Boston seeks to create an easy introduction to WEF's key governance proposals and to encourage a healthy debate on the future of global governance. It is intended to provide current participants in international organizations with the tools to understand these proposed changes in international governance and to provide to students and faculty in international relations an engaging overview of contemporary governance issues.

In WEF’s forty year self-commissioned history 1 , WEF calls itself a “Partner in Shaping History.” 2 And no doubt they are correct.

During 2009 and 2010, the World Economic Forum facilitated this global, multi-stakeholder dialogue on the future of international cooperation. In May 2010, WEF launched their new ideas for global governance at a high level meeting in Doha, Qatar. The Doha conference involved 1,200 people in the final review of Davos' broad governance proposals and the reports of interdisciplinary task forces. The GRI report presents an alternative conceptual model for the future of global governance, one can challenge others to articulate their own global governance goals. Their four key institutional recommendations would significantly re-order governance. as it is understood through the Charter of the United Nations. Most of their major framework recommendations can be put into place without a formal decision by any existing United Nations body.



The online version of the Readers' Guide is designed to be accessible to the serious and casual readers alike. It does not have to be read in any particular order to be understood: each section contains relevant information that stands alone apart from the whole. The Readers Guide has a series of introductory essays followed a lengthy section of line-by-line commentary on key passages from the final GRI report. 

Each page of the online Readers' Guide has a comment feature intended to encourage an open dialogue on WEF’s proposals and to allow users to present their own alternative strategies for a new alignment of global institutions. 


WEF as an organization does not lobby directly for its views. 3   One should not expect to hear the recommendations for the Global Redesign Initiative to be presented under a WEF banner. Rather WEF encourages participants to share their reflections from Davos, from WEF's regional meetings, from WEF's specialized industry consultations, and from the WEF's task forces in their own political, commercial, and intellectual circles. This approach is effective because it encourages well-connected and committed individuals from WEF's international elite communities to circulate these ideas under their own organizational names in the media, in conferences, in testimony, and in their policy recommendations to governments and international organizations 4 . What the annual Davos meetings, the various regional meetings, and the workshop program of WEF can and does provide is a continuing push and reminder service to the members of the Davos community that work on global governance needs to be continued 5 .

The goal of the Readers' Guide will be met if this website challenges readers to examine the insights of the Global Redesign process and to articulate their own proposals for organizing a healthy and democratic system to govern the world's myriad communities.

The Readers' Guide was prepared by Harris Gleckman, senior fellow at the Center for Governance and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Gleckman was a staff member of the UN Centre on Transnational Corporations, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and Financing for Development Office of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. In addition to his affiliation with UMass Boston, he is a director of Benchmark Environmental Consulting and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maine Law School and Ramapo College in New Jersey.

Email inquiries about the Readers' Guide project can be addressed to:

  1. ^ The World Economic Forum, “A Partner in Shaping History : The First 40 Years, 1971-2010, World Economic Forum, Geneva, 2009 subsequently cited as “First 40 Years.”  
  2. ^ “Davos has been a place where incipient changes in the world are first discerned and where ideas for changes that have shaken the world have been conceived or refined. What has never changed since its beginning is the Forum’s dedication to collaboration among stakeholders, the steadfast adherence to high-level participation of leaders sharing the Forum’s commitment to improving the state of the world…“, First 40 Years, pg 1.    
  3. ^ In 1973, “participants spontaneously took the initiative to draft a “Code of Ethics” based on Klaus Schwab’s stakeholder concept. The text was unanimously approved in the final session of the Symposium. This was a singular achievement for the Forum, which from the beginning has adhered to the principle that it should neither act as an advocacy group nor express any opinions on behalf of members or participants. What has become known as “The Davos Manifesto” was a rare exception to this policy.“ The First 40 Years, pg 15.
  4. ^ For example, “members of the Council on Employment & Social Protection will seek to mobilize their respective constituencies to advance this proposal with ministers prior to the G20 Employment and Labour Ministers Meeting on 20-21 April 2010 in Washington DC and the subsequent G20 Leaders’ meetings in June 2010 in Toronto, Canada.”, GRI, pg 82.  
  5. ^ See Schwab’s introductory letter, Oct 2010: “Therefore the Global Redesign Initiative should not be seen as an end in itself but as the beginning of a sustained process to adapt and better prepare the global system for the challenges of the 21st century.”, GRI pg 2.    

Mamadi Diaré

Posted: 05-06-2013 01:48

Any chance to get GRI in French? Thanks!

Maureen Natkin

Posted: 01-07-2013 11:38

PDFs of each chapter are now available for printing. Look for the link at the bottom of each page.

Harris Gleckman

Posted: 11-08-2012 12:35

Mary, Thanks for your comment. I will contact you directly about presentations on the global governance, WEF, and the Readers' Guide. On printing out the Readers' Guide, please check back in early December as we are trying to fix a software problem.

Mary Gilbert

Posted: 11-03-2012 21:46

Please let me know if there will be any free lectures or open discussions about the material in this Readers' Guide. I have been representing Quaker Earthcare Witness at the UN for 12 years and have some knowledge of the issues. Recently I have also become active with a part of the CSO world that is also thinking in terms of the global organization of citizens, with the aim of -- at least on some issues -- speaking with one voice. I am familiar with the Peoples Treaties on Sustainable Development and a similar approach taken by a group of Southern CSOs. I would like to get a better understanding of this complex proposal by the WEF. Also, is there a good way of printing out the Readers' Guide? I'm not as comfortable trying to read extensive documents from a screen. Thanks for your attention.