Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Four Building Blocks

In addition to the Five Steps and Four Tools, GRI has Four Building Blocks. These four elements are seen as cornerstones on which to push along the transition to a new system of global governance. The co-editors argue that these building blocks “can be applied in partial and different combinations ... to strengthen progress on any given issue.” 1  A key lesson of the Global Redesign process is that a better way to obtain good results on a given problem 

“...is to explore the practical opportunities that exist to construct or strengthen building blocks in each of these dimensions, seeing them as a system and therefore seeking to cultivate a positive feedback loop of momentum among them. The challenges of scale, information and coherence inherent in deep interdependence imply that, if the international community focuses its cooperation on only one of these components of progress, it is much more likely to be disappointed with the results.” 2

Despite the implied importance for a solid foundation starting with the GRI Building Blocks, three of the four building blocks are not dramatic departures from existing and longstanding suggestions. The First Building Block, “high-level political commitments and objectives,” is an appeal to high level political will and has been part of the call for almost every international campaign and program. This Building Block provides the basis for WEF’s endorsement of the leadership role of the G20. 

The Second Building Block, “multilateral legal frameworks and institutions,” is the same appeal for coherence and cooperation at the international level which has been made by nation-states and intergovernmental actors for years. Almost every international effort to address a global policy matter has been accompanied by calls for supplemental legal frameworks and conventions. What is noteworthy is that the GRI itself proposes very few new legal institutions or agreements.

Finally, Building Block Four is simply a call for “information metrics [that can] assist with anticipating risks, shaping priorities and benchmarking performance." What is significant here is that GRI is associating itself with policy decision-making based on hard, scientific data, a position that is not often explicitly heard in public policy debates from the international corporate sector. There is, however, plenty of data, benchmarks, and priorities on globally significant issues that could be used now for judging performance and shaping priorities.

 

Related Ideas: Assessing data; Benchmarking; Education; Joint review; Leap forward; Modernization; Nuclear terrorism; Ocean monitors; R2P; Worker Protection; Fair representation in global decision-making

The Readers' Guide welcomes commentary – critical or otherwise – of the above interpretation of GRI’s perspective and the issues involved.

  • 1. ^ GRI, pg 18.
  • 2. ^ GRI, pg 19.

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