Improving Global Collective Action in a Connected World
Rising interdependence creates a need for greater global cooperation to manage basic policy problems, like providing economic stability and development, maintaining security and ensuring environmental sustainability. But the intergovernmental institutions the world has traditionally relied on to facilitate cooperation are increasingly gridlocked, resulting in a global ‘governance gap’. This paper identifies common trends—rising multipolarity, harder problems, institutional inertia and fragmentation—that lead to gridlock across issue areas. It then identifies the vulnerabilities that this gridlock creates with reference to three issue areas: financial stability, human security and climate change. For each, global gridlock generates new impacts on the world's most marginalized populations. Finally, the paper considers the potential of new forms of global governance, many of them involving sub- and nonstate actors, to supplement multilateral processes and help fill some of the ‘governance gap’. While such solutions offer no panacea, under certain conditions, they may help to reduce the vulnerabilities associated with a breakdown in multilateral cooperation.