Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Task Force Reports and Concluding Essays

The bulk of the GRI consists of reports from various self-standing taskforces. GRI engaged the efforts of World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Councils, Young Global Leader Task Forces, and Low-Carbon Prosperity Task Forces and Industry Partnerships. These groups, working individually or in partnership with each other, prepared sixty separate sets of policy recommendations. 1

They were invited by WEF to undertake a thought experiment in their specific crisis area. The thought experiment was what would be the best arrangement, if one started over, unencumbered by the existing institutional arrangements and inherited mindsets, to ‘fix’ a global issue. While some of the groups took this invitation seriously, most worked as if they are inside the current institutional setting and were making recommendations to re-align the existing institutional arrangements.

WEF presents the outcome of these task forces as both an indication of the coherence and breath of the possibilities of their new global governance model and as a self-standing list of hundreds of can-do actions, almost like an à la carte menu.

GRI does note that these specific task force recommendations are not necessarily endorsed by all the participants, not even those on that taskforce. 2  Nor are they endorsed by the over-all WEF project team. This caveat is troubling. First, it raises a fundamental question about whether it is possible to scale up the high level multi-stakeholder consultation model used in Davos into a global system, one that WEF stresses needs implementable decisions. If an extended year and a half period could not produce agreed recommendations, even within the individual taskforces, let alone among the remainder of the GRI participants, how does the Davos model function as a governance system?

The caveat is also contradictory to the thrust of Step Three which seeks to use the new institutional geometry to accelerate results-based programs and Step Four which seeks to take action on practical targeted initiatives. And finally, the caveat leaves ambiguous exactly which recommendations have at least universal endorsement by all the named members of the task force and which ones are contested within the expert panels. This implies that, if the world were to act on a recommendation based on GRI panel, it may well act on a proposal for which only a minority of members of the panel thought was a credible global response.

Most of the working groups have webpages on the WEF website. These can be accessed through a well-designed infographic  and the 2011-2012 Annual Report of the Global Agenda Councils. 3

The last section of the GRI contains 9 thematic essays that act to tie together the various issues raised in the task force reports.

The list of authors of these essays is in Annex A  along the names of the taskforces and links to task force pages on the WEF website

  • 1. ^ The report of the project in Everybody’s Business includes all sixty taskforce reports; the subsequent book version has only twenty-nine.
  • 2. ^ “Many of the proposals presented in this report are of a far-reaching nature and require strong global consensus and cooperation. Just as it is worth mentioning that the opinions and ideas expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Economic Forum or even of all the individual members of the community that developed a proposal, it would be presumptuous to assume that all of them will be immediately integrated into the global decision-making process.” Forward, GRI pg 2
  • 3. ^ http://www.weforum.org/reports/annual-report-global-agenda-councils-2011-2012 (accessed Aug 6, 2012)

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