Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Lacks Built-In Incentives

pg. 24: The international system lacks adequate built-in incentives to focus disparate, but relevant, resources and capabilities on common, complex challenges. . . . Big challenges need to be dealt with increasingly in a more inclusive, results-oriented and holistic fashion – i.e., through a “we the peoples” rather than “we the states” approach to international governance and cooperation. 

Readers' Guide Comment on “adequate built-in incentives”    

     
This wording both identifies a crucial dilemma for the UN system and avoids a difficult issue for WEF. In the current system, there are very limited incentives that the UN can provide to influence private sector actions or to sanction states for non-compliance.


WEF however never identifies what new built-in incentives its “geography of cooperation” governance system would actually have. This oversight is particularly noteworthy, as the international market is based on competition and conflict, and its internal incentives are price-based, not consensus-based or politically-based.


Readers Guide Comment on “to focus … on common, complex challenges”  


WEF also dodges a definition of ‘common’ concerns and avoids analyzing the source of ‘complex challenges’. Those without food have a common concern for hunger; those with investments in the food sector have concerns about agricultural tariff rates and market share.


Some who are frustrated with the relative weakness of OECD countries to manage ‘complex challenges’ such as intellectual property rights bemoan the lack of political clout of the international system to force others to accept their views. Some others whose views of ‘complex challenges’ include weather-disruptions from climate change or cultural dominance from global media firms are looking at governance arrangement issues in a quite different fashion.


Readers' Guide Comment on “we the peoples”


WEF's principle concerns with the current form of global governance are the ineffectiveness and inefficiencies of the international system; it does not advocate for a 'we the peoples'-style global democracy. The phrase ‘we the peoples’ seems to have been used when WEF wants to undermine the nation-state and the UN system; it does not appear in any sections dealing with the G20 or other elite institutions.


The reference is strange for another reason. The expression ‘we the peoples’ was never central to the development of the UN Charter, but was added as an afterthought in the final negotiations. Its inclusion here may be more to curry favor with some in the civil society or UN; it is not used as an introduction to a section on global democracy.


Related Ideas: democracy, a passing reference; legitimacy; gaining acceptance


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.

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