Looming Global-Scale Failures and Missing Institutions

Author(s): Walker, B.H., Barrett, S., Polasky, S., Galaz, V., Folke, C., Engström, G., Ackerman, F., Arrow, K., Carpenter, S., Chopra, K., Daily, G., Ehrlich, P., Hughes, T., Kautsky, N., Levin, S., Mäler, K-G., Shogren, J., Vincent, J., Xepapadeas, T., de Zeeuw, A.
In: Science 325: 1345-1346.
Year: 2009
Type: Journal / article
Link to centre authors: Folke, Carl, Walker, Brian
Full reference: Walker, B.H., Barrett, S., Polasky, S., Galaz, V., Folke, C., Engström, G., Ackerman, F., Arrow, K., Carpenter, S., Chopra, K., Daily, G., Ehrlich, P., Hughes, T., Kautsky, N., Levin, S., Mäler, K-G., Shogren, J., Vincent, J., Xepapadeas, T., de Zeeuw, A. (2009). Looming global-scale failures and missing institutions. Science 325: 1345-1346

Publication review

Energy, food, and water crises; climate disruption; declining fisheries; increasing ocean acidification; emerging diseases; and increasing antibiotic resistance are examples of serious, intertwined global-scale challenges spawned by the accelerating scale of human activity.

They are outpacing the development of institutions to deal with them and their many interactive effects. 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 take a free ride on the cooperation of others.

The nation-state achieves cooperation by the exercise of sovereign power within its boundaries. The difficulty to date is that transnational institutions provide, at best, only partial solutions, and implementation of even these solutions can be undermined by internation competition and recalcitrance.

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