In late 2008, global leaders, including then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, called for an overhaul of the “international financial architecture” in a manner akin to the 1944 Bretton Woods process . 1 Their suggestion prompted serious macro-economic discussions at the G20 meetings in Washington (2008) and London (2009) and ultimately resulted in agreements to pursue coordinated fiscal stimulus activities, enhanced economic policy coordination, and a refinancing of the IMF. Public talk about a “Bretton Woods II” (BWII) in the G20 context subsided but re-appeared within the broader UN context.
In early 2009, the General Assembly considered proposals to create an Economic Security Council as a way to reconstruct the Bretton Woods institutions inside the UN system. 2 This proposal, which would have been a de facto revision of the UN Charter, was quietly set aside by June 2009. The Copenhagen climate Conference of the Parties (COP) in December 2009 was seen by some as an opportunity to devise a system of climate governance which would reorient the international market toward a low-carbon economy. In the end, governments avoided, amongst other things, undertaking this systemic task under the UNFCCC umbrella.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Redesign Initiative comes out of this same period. 3 WEF’s engagement with global governance, however, has two significant differences. First, it comes on the heels of these high level government efforts, which looked at the reality of the imminent collapse of the international governance system and moved on when the immediate threat receded. Second, it comes after nearly five decades of experience with the annual gatherings of World Economic Forum in Davos Klosters and two decades of regional meetings in four continents. These WEF events have nurtured an informal environment between the invited leaders from governments, international business, professional bodies, the scientific community, international civil society, and popular culture. 4 As the GRI’s report states, it was time to take the corporate approach of Davos 5 to a new level.
The Readers' Guide welcomes comments with alternative examples or counter examples and commentary – critical or otherwise – of the above interpretation of the context of GRI project.