The core of the problem is inducing cooperation in situations where individuals and nations will collectively gain if all cooperate, but each faces the temptation to free-load at the expense of the others.
- We are not advocating that countries give up their sovereignty. We are instead proposing a much stronger focus on regional and worldwide cooperation, helped by better-designed multi-national institutions, explains co-author Professor Carl Folke, Scientific Director at Stockholm Resilience Centre.
- The challenge of climate change is closely linked to the capacity of ecosystems worldwide to generate services and the wellbeing of the economy rests on this capacity. Such interdependencies have to be tackled through global cooperation. Local and national efforts are already failing, Folke says.
Too much focus on single problems
While there are signs of emerging global action on issues such as climate change, there is widespread inaction on others, such as the destruction of the world´s forests to grow biofuels or the emergence of pandemic flu through lack of appropriate animal husbandry protocols where people, pigs and birds co-mingle.
- One major obstacle stems from the fact that international institutions primarily focus on single problems, like climate change, often ignoring how different crises interact. New collaborative platforms for how to deal with such interactions are urgently needed, adds co-author Victor Galaz, political scientist from the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
To avoid looming global-scale failures and harness common opportunities, there is a growing need for greater collaboration amongst existing institutions, and new institutions, to help construct and maintain a global-scale social contract, the scientists conclude.
Source: Walker et al. 2009. Looming global-scale failures and missing institutions. Science 325: 1345-1346. www.sciencemag.org
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