Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Assessing Data

pg. 31: Examples of the final building block, information and metrics, include the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) reports, Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report, the WTO Trade Policy Review Mechanism, the World Bank’s Doing Business reports, the Centre for Global Development’s Commitment to Development Index, Human Rights Watch’s World Report, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, etc. Information exercises such as these can be highly effective at influencing the political debate and agenda, shaping policy planning and resource allocation, and tracking results in relation to political objectives. They have the potential to enable and mobilize grass roots political support behind each of the other three building blocks. As such, they deserve to be considered as a structural feature of international cooperation in their own right.


Readers' Guide Comment on “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change … Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report“

In this example of institutions which that produce policy metrics, the IPPC and the TI are by far the most influential. The other bodies cited are known only within a narrow, specialized community and have had only a marginal impact on global policy in spite of their value and academic rigor (e.g. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment ). WEF’s own report on competitiveness is an example of a very narrowly focused metric. It directs international policy away from sustainable environmental development and towards a rather traditional macroeconomic growth strategy.

Readers' Guide Comment on "can be highly effective at influencing the political debate“

In this context one should think about the targeted de-legitimization campaign aimed at the International Panel on Climate Change. It is an early warning of the way such multi-stakeholder scientific bodies can be prevented from effectively laying the groundwork for meaningful policy interventions. If WEF does mean that information metrics should help shape priorities, it should address how corporate-funded mis-education campaigns for self-interested market benefits impair access to sound scientific data.

Readers' Guide Comment on “the potential to enable and mobile grass roots political support”

The problem is not the lack of quality research on global problems, but rather getting countries and firms to act on available knowledge. Global elites engage in fact-dodging when the truth may require actions that are perceived in the short term to be antithetical to their own interests. In general, high-powered international information panels do not inform non-governmental organizations or cause to them to act.

Related Ideas: Four Building Blocks; Fixing the UN system; Options for managing economic globalization; Effectiveness objective 

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