Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Fragmentation of Information and Leadership

pg. 11 : Even as relevant sources of expertise and capacity have multiplied and global risks and challenges have become more interconnected, our methods for assessing and responding to them remain highly fragmented among different ministries, countries, industries, professional and academic disciplines, specialized international organizations, etc. This fragmentation makes it more difficult for all of these institutions to remain confident that the information on which they base decisions is comprehensive, consistent and current. It creates a bias within the international system for partial and reactive responses to global challenges that require a more integrated and proactive approach. 

Readers' Guide Comment on “[This fragmentation] creates a bias within the international system for partial and reactive responses . . .  that require a more integrated . . . approach”      


Fragmentation between international organizations is better seen as an intentional goal of the founding governments. Each international organization was set up with a mandate to address certain limited issues, with a governing system that was independent from all other governing systems, and a budget process that was not coordinated with the budget processes of other international organizations.  The dispersal of issues to separate organizations with unconnected governance structures means that systemic issues will tend to be off the agenda. It also means that national self-interests will not often be challenged by international organizations, even when it is necessary to deal with complex global risks.


For the past 60 years, OECD governments have used the differences in mandates between organizations to argue that one organization should not take on an issue that potentially ‘overlaps’ with another international organization, stymieing effective responses to major global problems. A variant of this approach by OECD delegations has regularly been used to block international consideration by a UN system body as it might 'step on the mandate' of the even more independent and OECD-controlled IMF, World Bank, or the (WTO).


There are no follow up recommendations in the GRI report based on WEF’s analytic assessment about a fragmented international system. 


Readers' Guide Comment on “global challenges . . .  require a more integrated and proactive approach”


The global market is the only market without a parallel governance system. In this sense, globalization itself has created its own the demand for a globalized governance system. In another sense, national territorial boundaries are increasingly irrelevant in addressing globalized issues such as climate change, cross jurisdictional corporate taxation, protection of oceans or of highly migratory species.

Related Ideas: rules, procedures, and practices; Overview of WEF’s perspective

The Readers' Guide welcomes comments with alternative examples or counter examples, supplemental assessments of the extracted GRI text or commentary – critical or otherwise – of the above interpretation of GRI’s perspective.