Source: https://www.weforum.org Author: Saadia Zahidi
Over the course of the last year, at World Economic Forum and elsewhere, I have asked participants two questions. First I ask for a show of hands on whether they feel confident about their current skills taking them through to the end of their careers – about one in five raise their hands. Then I ask if they feel confident about advising their children on their education to prepare for their own futures: none raises their hand. These are some of the most knowledgeable, leading figures in the world and yet they, like many of us, are uncertain about what the future of labour markets looks like.
This is not surprising.
Globalization and technology are accelerating both job creation and destruction. Some estimates have put the risk of automation as high as half of current jobs, while others forecast a considerably lower value of 9%. Still, all occupations will go through change: we found that on average one-third of the skillsets required to perform today’s jobs will be wholly new by 2020.
At the same time, education and training systems are not keeping pace with these shifts. Some studies suggest that 65% of children currently entering primary school will have jobs that do not yet exist and for which their education will fail to prepare them, exacerbating skills gaps and unemployment in the future. Even more urgent, underdeveloped adult training and skilling systems are unable to support learning for the currently active workforce of nearly 3 billion people.
In addition, outdated cultural norms and institutional inertia already create roadblocks for half of the world’s talent – and are getting worse in the new context. Despite women’s leap forward in education, their participation in the paid workforce remains low; and progress is stalling, with current forecasts for economic parity at 170 years.
The near-term outcomes of these dynamics, compounded through other demographic, geopolitical and economic factors, are profoundly challenging. They include skills gaps in the workforce that are difficult for employers and workers alike, unemployment and job displacement, particularly in blue-collar and services work, rising fear of further technological unemployment, insufficient supply of talent for many high-skill occupations, and loss of female talent and potential. Together these factors are exacerbating income inequality and creating a crisis of identity.
Yet, most of these dire predictions need not be foregone conclusions. If leaders act now, using this moment of transformation as an impetus for tackling long-overdue reform, they have the ability not only to stem the flow of negative trends but to accelerate positive ones and create an environment in which over 7 billion people on the planet can live up to their full potential.
Instead, in several advanced economies, we are seeing the political and social consequences of short-term, emotive – and sometimes disingenuous – thinking. For those who are losing out from the changes underway, fear is an understandable response. But turning away immigrants, trade or technology itself, and disengaging from the world, is a distraction, at best. At worst, will create even more negative consequences for those already losing out – and many more. It is up to courageous, responsible and responsive leaders and citizens to take the long view and set out on the path to more fundamental, relevant reforms, and an inspiring future.
How? By investing in human capital and preparing people for the new opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution. The World Economic Forum has worked with leaders, experts and practitioners to create a common vision and a shared change agenda focused on how we learn, earn and care.
1. Transform education ecosystems. Most education systems are so far behind the mark on keeping up with the pace of change today and so disconnected from labour markets that nothing short of a fundamental overhaul will suffice in many economies. The eight key areas of action here are early childhood education, future-ready curricula, a professionalized teaching workforce, early exposure to the workplace, digital fluency, robust and respected technical and vocational education, openness to education innovation, and critically, a new deal on lifelong learning.
2. Facilitate the transition to a new world of work. While there are deeply polarized views about how technology will impact employment, there is agreement that we are in a period of transition. Policy needs to catch up and facilitate this transition. We propose four areas of action: recognition of all work models and agile implementation of new regulations, updated social protection, adult learning and continuous re-skilling, and proactive employment services.
3. Advance the care economy. Often undervalued and unregulated, care is one of the most fundamental needs among both young and old populations. It has a strong impact on education, and holds potential for job growth. We propose six areas of action: recognize and value care as a vital sector of the economy, professionalize the care workforce, rebalance paid and unpaid work responsibilities, expand high-quality care infrastructure, create new financial provisions to facilitate care, and use technology as a tool for balancing care and work.
To do any of this – and to make it pay off – it is critical that policy design includes agile multistakeholder governance, empowerment of the individual, objective measurement, universal access and long-term planning as fundamental tenets.
The rapid pace of change means we need to act urgently. By some estimates the current window of opportunity for action is three-to-five years. This may sound daunting but there are a large variety of robust success stories to learn from and emulate. There are also substantial new commercial opportunities – such as adult education, care services, employment services – that make this space ripe for public-private collaboration.
It’s the harder path to follow, there’s no doubt about it. Transforming education ecosystems, creating a care economy and managing the transition to a new world of work require political will, innovative policy, new financing models and, most importantly, a new mindset.
But this is also the only viable path if we want to get ahead of the transition underway and turn this moment of flux into an opportunity for revitalizing growth and realizing human potential in the age of the fourth industrial revolution.
The whitepaper on Realizing Human Potential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: An Agenda for Leaders to Shape the Future of Education, Gender and Work can be found here. Saadia Zahidi is Head of Education, Gender and Work and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.
随着2016年美国总统大选的结束以及“后真相时代”的兴起，是时候围绕教育领域创新开展一番讨论了。 教育领域面临的最大挑战是什么，又有哪些解决方案正在路上？ 谁来负责重塑有缺陷的教育制度？ 虽然教育制度的相关问题来自多个维度，但有件事情我们是能够确信的：要想改变社会，就得从教育后代开始做起，而这正是现在所发生的事情。
数字化 在教育领域，“大规模开放式在线课程”（MOOCs）的兴起是一大热门话题。 数字时代为信息访问带来了前所未有的便利度。所有年龄段的学生都能获得比以往任何时候更多的信息，还能获得世界上最优质的教育资源（只要那些最优秀的教育者愿意在网上发布他们的课程）。
Khan Academy, EdX和 Coursera都是正在快速扩张的教育组织，在优质教育内容的支持下，它们在新兴市场大举竞争，但其营收却不是非常稳定。 这些组织所集合了来自不同背景的顶级教师及教授，为学生提供教学大纲、家庭作业、学习聊天组，以及即时视频讨论。
学生不必按照固定的时间表完成课程。 如果学生发现自己晚上的学习效率更好，那么他们都能这样做。 如果学生需要重复学习的话，他们能以10秒为单位随意回滚视频，直到完全理解老师说了什么说。 这种学习模式也带来了缺点，过多的灵活性让学生很难获得激励去完成学习任务。 更重要的是，在学习过程中，触觉对于激励心智发展来说几乎是不可替代的。
国际化 最迷人的教育改革运动往往不在传统组织中发生。 在高等教育方面，凯基的Minerva学校引发了一场教育风暴，今年一年内获得了超过16,000份入学申请，而该学校拥有306个教学点。
每年，Minerva学校的学生都会前往一个新的国家，在世界各地不同的城市背景下完成他们的本科课程：伊斯坦布尔，伦敦，旧金山，柏林，首尔，班加罗尔。 大学教育的“去中心化”直到最近才得以实现。 而“间隔年”则是另一个快速增长的教育创新空间。 摆脱了K-12或高等教育体系的限制，学生们能够利用“间隔年”的时间来重塑自己的生活，探索能够真正激励、挑战并鼓舞他们的事情。
圣地亚哥的“高科技高”计划开设了一家基于抽签制度的公立特许学校， 该学校99％的毕业生都能进入大学。 作为一个几乎没有教科书的学校，他们强调教育的个性化，多样性，协作性，以及对于工作期望（甚至是成年人级别的期望值）。这些特色对他们的K-12学生产生了深远影响。
“高峰公立学校”拥有先进的软硬件，在社会及情感学习的框架内为其学生开发高度个性化的学习计划。 在高科技的帮助下，学校能够辨别出学生的学习在什么时候会落后，学生什么时候会需要老师的帮助，应该如何（以及何时）寻求更多的高质量教育信息。 很明显，这种技能与21世纪的工作需求联系日益紧密。
Mark Esposito, 剑桥大学商法学院研究员。
作者：Elena Holodny是Business Insider网站作家。
Author: Jakkie Cilliers
The world is changing, but not the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Established by 51 countries 70 years ago, the UN now has 193 member states that coexist, compete and cooperate in a world that is very different from the situation in 1945.
Beyond a threefold increase in the global population, the rapidly changing world of the 21st century is characterised by a diffusion of power (away from states); an accompanying shift in relative material power and influence from the West to the East; and an ongoing transition from a brief period of unipolarity to multipolarity.
Transnational threats such as terrorism and cybercrime are straining national capacities, while globally armed conflict has been rising for several years; reversing the sharp downturns seen after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
Yet we are stuck with a global peace and security governance architecture from the first half of the previous century. Greater multipolarity does not imply instability, but the global transitions that accompany these and other shifts in power are inherently disruptive. In short, in the years ahead, the world will need an effective and legitimate UNSC.
In the years that lie ahead, the world will need an effective and legitimate UNSC.
There is near unanimous consensus on the need for the UNSC to be reformed, but progress is rendered impossible by power politics. After the 1965 enlargement of the non-permanent members of the UNSC from six to 10 members, reform has been on the agenda since Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s appointment as secretary-general in 1992, but has delivered nothing. Meantime, the roles and influence of civil society organisations in global governance has expanded.
A new campaign by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) called Elect the Council advocates that civil society should bring its weight to bear on the task of major structural and procedural reform that would make the UNSC representative, allow it to retrieve its legitimacy and relevance, and enhance its effectiveness.
The ISS proposes a global initiative in which civil society and ordinary citizens use the power of an interconnected world to advocate for a specific set of fair and equitable proposals to amend the UN Charter. Our goal is to consult and develop a detailed set of proposals and then to establish a broad-based global partnership of civil society organisations. This partnership will work with states to ensure action by two-thirds of the members of the UN General Assembly, including the permanent five (P5) members, to reform the UNSC in line with the global norm of elected representation.
It is not possible to reform the UNSC without amending the UN Charter – and while only member states can effect such an amendment, they have repeatedly proven themselves unable to grasp this nettle on their own. In accordance with Article 109 of the UN Charter, Elect the Council will advocate for a simple majority of members of the UN General Assembly (currently 97 out of 193 members) and a vote by any seven members of the UNSC, for a General Conference of UN member states to amend the UN Charter. The amendment would subsequently need to be ratified by national legislatures as set out in the Charter.
Member states have repeatedly proven themselves unable to grasp this nettle on their own.
Civil society have not been actively engaged in UNSC reform to any meaningful extent, but the global village effect and the marked increase in new forms of instability (terrorism, cybercrime, events in Syria, etc.) demand new approaches. We do not intend to advocate for a commitment for reform – nominally that already exists – but rather on the precise modalities of such reform.
Consultation is important, but this cannot be an open-ended process and like member states, civil society will need to compromise in search of a common position based on principle. Our initial proposals are set out on the Elect the Council website. They are based on a formula of one five-year member per 24 countries, and double the number of five-year members to be elected for three-year terms. This gives a UNSC membership of 24 (similar in total to both option A and B contained in the 2005 report by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, titled In Larger Freedom), consisting of eight countries elected for five years, and 16 countries elected for three years.
The two distinct terms of membership – for three and five years respectively, based on minimum criteria – will allow for global powers and regional leaders to be re-elected on the five-year ticket, while the three-year category of membership would ensure flexibility and representativeness. We are currently looking at additional proposals that would encourage a transition from permanent seats and veto rights to normal elections and majorities.
The first version of our proposals also sets out a detailed position on the development of rules of procedure, voting, transitional arrangements and next steps, and is now open for comment at www.electthecouncil.org.
By balancing fairness, transparency and efficiency, a new lease of life can be provided to an institution that will be tested as globalisation and shifts in power take their toll.
This article is published in collaboration with ISS Africa. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.
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Author: Jakkie Cilliers is the Executive Director and Head of African Futures and Innovation Section at ISS Africa.
Image: Members of the United Nations Security Council vote. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri.
Author: Mary Kaldor
The Brexit vote and the candidacy of Donald Trump are not exceptional developments. They are symptoms of a wider global phenomenon – a pervasive distrust in the political class, an expression of alienation and anger by those who have been bypassed by globalization, and an awareness that our institutions, designed in the 20th century, are not fit for purpose, that is to say, they cannot address the problems of the 21st century.
The paradox is that at the very moment when we need to construct the building blocks of global governance, institutions like the European Union and the United Nations are under attack from the rising tide of populism and xenophobia.
I’d like to make two observations on these developments.
First, global governance is a way of addressing the democratic deficit that is experienced everywhere, not by democratizing global institutions – though that might be desirable – but rather through the role that such institutions can play in devolving power to local levels closer to the citizen. In the British debate about membership of the EU, the leave campaign talked about “taking back control”; my argument is that in a globalized world, it is only possible to do so through membership in global governance institutions like the EU.
Second, xenophobic populism will only lead to insecurity, and global institutions need to develop a cooperative security policy both to address this insecurity and to establish legitimacy.
The global democratic deficit
In democratic theory, a useful distinction is made between procedural democracy and substantive democracy. Procedural democracy is about formal rules – elections, freedom of the media, or freedom of association. Substantive democracy is about political equality; it is about the ability of every individual to be able to influence or participate in the decisions that affect their lives. There’s a huge deficit in substantive democracy. This is the frustration that animates new movements on both the left and the right. “They call it democracy but it isn’t” was the slogan of the Spanish indignados. Similar arguments are made by the populist right.
So what are the reasons for our substantive democracy deficit?
First of all, it has to do with globalization. Procedural democracy applies largely to national levels; we vote to elect a national government. Yet the decisions that affect our lives are taken in the headquarters of multinational corporations, on the laptops of financial whizz kids, or by institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, the UN, the WTO, the EU or NATO. However perfect our democracy in procedural terms at national levels, we cannot affect those decisions. In theory we should be able to influence decisions through national membership in global institutions, but in practice such institutions are shaped more by the interests of the global elite than by ordinary citizens.
Secondly, the global democratic deficit is also the consequence of what I call the sclerosis of the nation-state. I would emphasize three aspects of this:
1) The technology of elections. The combination of polling, focus groups, messaging, and emphasis on swing voters has hollowed out politics and made it very difficult to hold genuine public debates. National politicians often seem wooden, speaking from a prepared script, compared with the insurgent politicians of right or left, or even compared with local politicians.
2) The growth of finance in relation to manufacturing, especially since the 2008 crisis, has meant that political elites are increasingly accountable to their financial backers and to the media that they control. We used to talk about the “resource curse” to explain the political problems faced by states, whose revenue depended on oil and not domestic taxation. It is an argument that applies to all rentier states and the growth of finance has meant that more and more states have an increasing share of revenue that comes from rent.
3) The deep state – the legacy of the Cold War, the entrenched bureaucracy, and the inner tendencies for surveillance and control – is embedded in the 20th-century state. The bureaucratized routines, the pressure from an often outdated security sector, and the career preoccupations of officials and politicians all make it very difficult to depart from knee-jerk 20th-century reactions to problems.
These factors help explain why our institutions are locked in backward-looking mind-sets, and systematically pursue policies that backfire and produce the very problems they are supposed to solve.
Borders to stop migrants merely increase the dangers for migrants; air strikes to kill terrorists produce more terror; engineering solutions to floods or fires exacerbate the underlying causes of these phenomena. And these reactions are reproduced in global institutions composed, as they are, of national members.
So what needs to happen to reclaim democracy? The task of global governance has to be reconceptualized to make it possible for citizens to influence the decisions that affect their lives – to reclaim substantive democracy. Because such institutions are distant, the answer is not necessarily more democracy at global levels, though that might be important. Rather, what is needed is more democracy at local levels, in cities and regions where institutions are closer to the citizens, and where the nation-state can be bypassed to some extent.
For that to happen, the job of global governance is to protect and enable local levels of democracy by constraining global “bads” and promoting global “goods”. For example, global bads might include tax evasion by global companies or short-term financial speculation, environmental damage, or wars. Global goods might include global redistribution, peace-building, or global environmental standards.
We need institutions that tame globalization so that its benefits can be allocated in participatory ways. This is not how they act now but the possibilities for change are greater because they are not constrained by national sclerosis.
It should be stressed that regional organizations like the EU should be conceived as models of global governance. The EU is not a state in the making. Nor is it a classic inter-governmental organization, since it involves an element of supra-nationality and much denser connections. Potentially (and paradoxically in the light of Brexit) the EU is an experiment in the kind of 21st-century institution that we need.
The consequences of populism and xenophobia
The rise of populism and xenophobia and the increasing number of authoritarian regimes has to be understood in the context of the democratic deficit, where frustration and marginalization is attributed to an “other”. In today’s open world, the classic closed and militaristic societies of the 20th century, which gave rise to the great wars of that same period, have been supplanted by a different sort of societal condition – an extreme version of neo-liberalism in which weak formal structures benefit a small predatory and kleptocratic globally networked elite, legitimated by a populist rhetoric, and violence replaces the market as a mechanism for the allocation of resources. Instead of 20th-century wars, what is experienced are “new wars” – a combination of political violence and criminality.
Unlike the 20th-century wars, which were clashes of will, new wars are perhaps better described as mutual enterprises in which the various armed groups benefit from violence either in economic terms or because it is a way of mobilizing around extremist political ideologies. Battles are rather rare. Instead, most violence is directed against civilians. One particular characteristic of such wars is expulsion – displacement on a large scale. Such wars are difficult to end because the various groups benefit from violence and they are difficult to contain because of the global character of the various political and criminal networks.
In these circumstances, traditional approaches do not work. Military intervention merely legitimizes further violence. Talks are very difficult because of the vested interest in war, and only succeed if they offer a privileged position to the various predatory networks. The only possible way to address these conflicts is through global cooperation and a far-reaching shift in the way we conceive of the world. The traditional geopolitical way of thinking about conflict needs to be replaced by a rights-based way of thinking, and this has to be associated with multilateralism and global cooperation. The only way to reconstruct security is through the establishment of legitimate political institutions and the opportunity for making a living through legitimate occupations. Armed groups need to be framed as criminals rather than legitimate enemies. And a global enforcement capacity is required that is more like policing than either military intervention or peace-keeping.
Security is at the heart of legitimacy. We trust our institutions if they keep us safe. The main source of insecurity today is new wars – what is going on in places like Syria, Libya, Ukraine or Myanmar. It is new wars that produce refugees – on levels most of us have never seen before – as well as transnational criminal networks. And it is in new wars that terrorism is nurtured. The failure to address these wars offers an example of the backward-looking attitudes of nation-states. They have to be addressed in a different way by the institutions of global governance, and that in turn could help underpin those institutions.
Getting from here to there
So how can this be achieved? Seen from a post-Brexit British context, Europe and the world seem to be spiralling towards a global new war. Yet if we look beyond the top-down national lens that dominates current discourse, we can observe a lot of social experimentation – civil society networks, for example, that assist refugees, that promote municipal ceasefires, or that establish new sources of livelihoods. Precisely because global governance is less deeply institutionalized than nation-states, there is a possibility of greater responsiveness to this type of civil initiative.
Those parts of the global elite that remain committed to a cosmopolitan outlook need to reach out to those at local and regional levels who are swimming against the tide in their own communities. Perhaps this sounds over-idealistic but these dark times call for a little innovative thinking.
Author: Jeffrey D. Sachs
The United Nations will mark its 70th anniversary when world leaders assemble next month at its headquarters in New York. Though there will be plenty of fanfare, it will inadequately reflect the UN’s value, not only as the most important political innovation of the twentieth century, but also as the best bargain on the planet. But if the UN is to continue to fulfill its unique and vital global role in the twenty-first century, it must be upgraded in three key ways.
Fortunately, there is plenty to motivate world leaders to do what it takes. Indeed, the UN has had two major recent triumphs, with two more on the way before the end of this year.
The first triumph is the nuclear agreement with Iran. Sometimes misinterpreted as an agreement between Iran and the United States, the accord is in fact between Iran and the UN, represented by the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the US), plus Germany. An Iranian diplomat, in explaining why his country will scrupulously honor the agreement, made the point vividly: “Do you really think that Iran would dare to cheat on the very five UN Security Council permanent members that can seal our country’s fate?”
The second big triumph is the successful conclusion, after 15 years, of the Millennium Development Goals, which have underpinned the largest, longest, and most effective global poverty-reduction effort ever undertaken. Two UN Secretaries-General have overseen the MDGs: Kofi Annan, who introduced them in 2000, and Ban Ki-moon, who, since succeeding Annan at the start of 2007, has led vigorously and effectively to achieve them.
The MDGs have engendered impressive progress in poverty reduction, public health, school enrollment, gender equality in education, and other areas. Since 1990 (the reference date for the targets), the global rate of extreme poverty has been reduced by well over half – more than fulfilling the agenda’s number one goal.
Inspired by the MDGs’ success, the UN’s member countries are set to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which will aim to end extreme poverty in all its forms everywhere, narrow inequalities, and ensure environmental sustainability by 2030 – next month. This, the UN’s third triumph of 2015, could help to bring about the fourth: a global agreement on climate control, under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Paris in December.
The precise value of the peace, poverty reduction, and environmental cooperation made possible by the UN is incalculable. If we were to put it in monetary terms, however, we might estimate their value at trillions of dollars per year – at least a few percent of the world economy’s annual GDP of $100 trillion.
Yet spending on all UN bodies and activities – from the Secretariat and the Security Council to peacekeeping operations, emergency responses to epidemics, and humanitarian operations for natural disasters, famines, and refugees – totaled roughly $45 billion in 2013, roughly $6 per person on the planet. That is not just a bargain; it is a significant underinvestment. Given the rapidly growing need for global cooperation, the UN simply cannot get by on its current budget.
Given this, the first reform that I would suggest is an increase in funding, with high-income countries contributing at least $40 per capita annually, upper middle-income countries giving $8, lower-middle-income countries $2, and low-income countries $1. With these contributions – which amount to roughly 0.1% of the group’s average per capita income – the UN would have about $75 billion annually with which to strengthen the quality and reach of vital programs, beginning with those needed to achieve the SDGs. Once the world is on a robust path to achieve the SDGs, the need for, say, peacekeeping and emergency-relief operations should decline as conflicts diminish in number and scale, and natural disasters are better prevented or anticipated.
This brings us to the second major area of reform: ensuring that the UN is fit for the new age of sustainable development. Specifically, the UN needs to strengthen its expertise in areas such as ocean health, renewable energy systems, urban design, disease control, technological innovation, public-private partnerships, and peaceful cultural cooperation. Some UN programs should be merged or closed, while other new SDG-related UN programs should be created.
The third major reform imperative is the UN’s governance, starting with the Security Council, the composition of which no longer reflects global geopolitical realities. Indeed, the Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG) now accounts for three of the five permanent members (France, the United Kingdom, and the US). That leaves only one permanent position for the Eastern European Group (Russia), one for the Asia-Pacific Group (China), and none for Africa or Latin America.
The rotating seats on the Security Council do not adequately restore regional balance. Even with two of the ten rotating Security Council seats, the Asia-Pacific region is still massively under-represented. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for roughly 55% of the world’s population and 44% of its annual income but has just 20% (three out of 15) of the seats on the Security Council.
Asia’s inadequate representation poses a serious threat to the UN’s legitimacy, which will only increase as the world’s most dynamic and populous region assumes an increasingly important global role. One possible way to resolve the problem would be to add at least four Asian seats: one permanent seat for India, one shared by Japan and South Korea (perhaps in a two-year, one-year rotation), one for the ASEAN countries (representing the group as a single constituency), and a fourth rotating among the other Asian countries.
As the UN enters its eighth decade, it continues to inspire humanity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the world’s moral charter, and the SDGs promise to provide new guideposts for global development cooperation. Yet the UN’s ability to continue to fulfill its vast potential in a new and challenging century requires its member states to commit to support the organization with the resources, political backing, and reforms that this new era demands.
This article is published in collaboration with Project Syndicate. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.
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Author: Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals.
Image: Tourists walk past the United Nations Headquarters in New York. At left is the U.N. General Assembly building and at right is the U.N. Secretariat building. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Can the UN restore international peace? Maybe, but only from the ground up
Speaking in Davos at the start of the year, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres laid out a vision of the interconnected nature of today’s conflicts, calling for a “comprehensive approach” by the UN that will bring together all of the organization’s pillars. This is a good move for a deeply fractured organization.
But in aiming big, and in focusing on bringing the major pieces of the UN architecture together, there is a risk that the crucial local dynamics of conflict will continue to be overlooked. Each of the key UN institutions – peace and security, human rights, and development – have a strong tendency to work at the national and state-institutional level. None has adequate mechanisms to link the national with the local. And while recent policy reviews and Guterres himself have called for a people-centred approach, it is less clear how that will be achieved. Here are three direct ways to combat the tendency to focus on the national level and to firmly root the UN’s conflict-management in local soil.
New technologies as a force multiplier for preventing conflict
In Davos, Guterres underlined that innovation and new technologies can play a critical role in addressing global crises. The risks associated with new technologies are well known: from the imminent threat of drone capabilities in the hands of terrorists, to genetically modified pandemic threats, to ISIS using social media as a recruitment tool. As Anja Kaspersen and Jean-Marc Rickli pointed outin an earlier Agenda article, this has allowed a far greater number of non-state actors access to the tools of conflict.
But modern communications technologies also offer the UN an opportunity to maintain closer links to populations, to understand potential drivers of conflict, and message more effectively against them.
The UN has taken some positive steps to bring local actors’ views into play through technology. This includes, for example, use of social networking in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo to identify where violent incidents are likely to occur, and more systematic monitoring of social media in Kosovo. But these are minor steps where a major one is needed, and initiatives tend to be in relatively obscure parts of the system. Imagine if the UN had been able to systematically process the enormous amount of social media data coming out of Tahrir Square in Cairo in 2012 (rather than relying on a few staff reporting on what they could see from their bedroom windows). When a SCUD missile was launched from Yemen into Saudi Arabia in 2015, the first news of this was from civilians tweeting from the ground, not a state-run source or the UN. On Syria, a civilian nicknamed “Brown Moses” became an international authority because he figured out how to use multiple sources of information on Twitter and Facebook to validate claims of weapons use by the parties on the ground.
The UN has people on the ground in 193 countries in the world, but they tend to be limited by what they can see and who they know. Dedicating meaningful resources to harnessing the enormous power of social media and big data – both to pull in information and also to communicate more effectively with affected populations – would be an immediate force multiplier for the UN that would also bring its work closer to the people.
When examining conflict, the vast majority of UN-related analyses are focused on either socio-economic data (unemployment rates, rising prices) or national political issues (constitutions, elections). As a result, interventions tend to be focused on building up the institutions of the state, without sufficient regard for how underlying power dynamics might be affected by a new intervention.
Deciding where to build a road, what schools are selected for funding, what groups are included in a political process, whether to support elections – all of these will play out across a social fabric. None of them are neutral. More capable state institutions may in fact raise tensions if they play into predatory state practices or fail to deliver equitably across groups.
The call for a cross-pillar approach to conflict is appropriate, but the secretary-general should also demand more systematic inclusion of local stakeholders – including business leaders – in the development of analysis and planning, and empower UN staff to build the kind of anticipatory relationships that will underpin any effective prevention effort.
This is particularly the case in countries without a UN mission already in place, but where the likelihood of conflict is high. Here, UN development and humanitarian actors are on the whole viewed as “apolitical,” carrying out their programmes without delving into the murky waters of conflict resolution (though the use of peace and development advisers in some countries has helped). These are also the eyes and ears of the UN and often have their finger pressed most directly on the pulse of a country. If Guterres is to realize his vision of a more proactive conflict prevention platform, now is a good time to be bold about reforming the Resident Coordinator system to give it the necessary tools and capacities to be effective at preventing conflict and holding national leaders accountable to their people.
Don’t follow a track, tack with the wind
The UN should also move away from its linear, state-centred approach, which assumes that money + institution = stability. Conflicts arise within complex political systems, where individual interests intersect with communal, national and even transnational ones. The key factor in all of this is political will: what are the incentives for those individuals in power to adopt a peaceful path, and how do the interests of key groups intersect around conflict? Whether President Kabila decides to step down as head of state of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, has everything to do with his personal sense of security and the interests he sees for himself and his broader network, including in the local communities. An approach that builds state institutions without accounting for this is equivalent to trying to sail a boat in a straight line against the wind.
Serious thought has gone into how to intervene in complex political systems, including in conflict-prone areas. The secretary-general’s call for a whole new approach to prevention is an excellent time for that thinking to be brought into the heart of the UN: when looking at conflict, the question should be “what is the theory of change and how can we influence the political will of those involved?” Again, this calls for a locally-driven analysis, and a better sense of how money and power flow through a system. The main point is that there is no straight line to peace, no results-based budget with prevention as a deliverable, and the UN’s planning should become more flexible and people-focused in response.
As Guterres tries to knock heads together and make the UN system work more effectively together, there will be a tendency to aim for the big hitters. Framework diplomacy, groups of friends, regional and international partnerships: all of these are necessary elements of a successful prevention platform. But people’s attitudes, behavioural patterns and interests are what drive and sustain conflict, and should therefore be at the core of the UN’s prevention work. The events of 2016 showcase the perils of ignoring people’s fears and wishes. Now is the right time to ground the UN’s work in the people it serves.
Today, mankind lives not only in national societies, but also in a global community. This means that the behavior and decisions of the inhabitants of nation states also impact the vital interests of inhabitants of other countries. Global warming may be the most obvious example: Greenhouse gas emissions in any particular country will have an impact on global climate change.
The world community is facing a number of major global challenges which have to be jointly managed by all countries through increased co-operation and an increased understanding of our interconnectedness. Other than climate change, the major problems and risks are other large-scale environmental damage and politically motivated violence (war, civil war, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction). Other major problems faced are extreme poverty and rapid population growth.
Rapid population growth – the global population has quadrupled over the last 100 years (which is one of the main reasons for the problem we face today), and is expected to increase by another 50 percent by the year 2100 – exacerbates all these problems. Despite this, and despite the knowledge that there are not nearly enough resources on the planet for the entire population of Earth to enjoy the current Western standard of living, the issue is not on the political agenda.
In order to manage these challenges, we need effective ways of making collectively binding, long-term decisions that take into account the interests of all those affected, including future generations. The system currently in place to manage these issues – including the UN and the organizations connected with the UN – are, in their present form, not up to the task. Today, these challenges are responded to using yesterday’s tools – multilateral negotiations which are susceptible to short-term national interests. As a consequence, the necessary action is either not taken or is taken too late, while the problems and risks continue to grow.
The Global Challenges Foundation wants to challenge participants from all over the world to formulate alternatives to the present state of affairs – either by complementing, strengthening and revising the present UN system, or by proposing completely new forms of governance. The proposals should be drafted with the aim of identifying and, as far as possible, preventing or minimizing challenges of the kind mentioned above.
The participant must design a governance model able to effectively address the most pressing threats and risks to humanity. In other words, the task is not to come up with direct solutions to specific problems. Rather, it is to design a general model for decision-making, with the aim of generating such solutions and the ability to do so, and possessing the resources to effectively implement them.
The governance model must also be such that it can be implemented within the foreseeable future. This requires that it be acceptable to major states and the wider international community. A significant measure of civic acceptance is also required. This requirement eliminates models that rely on time-consuming and controversial changes in the political system of individual states, e.g. models that postulate that all states should be democracies.
Furthermore, the governance model must involve a minimum of limitations to the sovereignty of nation-states, meaning that it should involve only such limitations as are necessary to ensure that national decisions do not seriously harm the vital interests of inhabitants of other countries, or of humanity as a whole. In other words, decisions within the governance model must not deal with the internal affairs of individual states.
The entries must consist of the following three parts:
1. Abstract (no more than 1000 words)
The abstract must summarize the design of the model, including the institutions, regulations, decision-making paths and control mechanisms it involves, as well as how key individuals and other decision-making bodies are to be appointed.
2. Description of the Model (no more than 5500 words)
The document must be divided into subsections with clear and descriptive headings. The Participant must clearly define the functions of the various components, their areas of responsibility and the extent of their decision-making mandate. Also, describe how the model is meant to manage both current and emerging challenges and risks.
3. Argumentation demonstrating how the model meets the assessment criteria (no more than 2750 words)
For each of the criteria listed below, the participant must provide convincing arguments as to how the proposed model meets the criterion.
Entries will be assessed based on how well they can be expected to manage global challenges and meet the criteria listed below:
1. Core Values.
Decisions within the governance model must be guided by the good of all humankind and by respect for the equal value of all human beings.
2. Decision-Making Capacity.
Decision-making within the governance model must generally be possible without crippling delays that prevent the challenges from being adequately addressed (e.g. due to parties exercising powers of veto).
The governance model must be capable of handling the global challenges and risks and include means to ensure implementation of decisions.
4. Resources and Financing.
The governance model must have sufficient human and material resources at its disposal, and these resources must be financed in an equitable manner.
5. Trust and Insight.
The trust enjoyed by a successful governance model and its institutions relies on transparency and considerable insight into power structures and decision-making.
In order to be able to fulfil its objectives effectively, a successful governance model must contain mechanisms that allow for revisions and improvements to be made to its structure and components.
7. Protection against the Abuse of Power.
A control system must be in place to take action if the organization should overstep its mandate, e.g. by unduly interfering with the internal affairs of nation-states or favouring the special interests of individuals, groups, organizations, states or groups of states.
It is a fundamental requirement of a successful governance model that it performs the tasks it has been charged with, and the governance model must include the power to hold the decision-makers accountable for their actions.
What does the future of work look like for Gen Y?
When the Brexit referendum result came in, many celebrated, while millions despaired. The disappointed supporters of British membership of the European Union tended to be younger and better educated.
Many young people felt let down by older Brexit voters. After all, they are the ones who will have to forge careers in less certain circumstances.
Among 18 to 24-year-olds, 72% favoured continued membership of the EU. As one young Briton explained via Twitter: “Today an older generation has voted to ruin the future for the younger generation. I’m scared.” Another millennial complained: “The fact older generations have reaped the benefits & pulled the EU from my generation? Furious.”
With or without a “hard” Brexit, millennials or Gen Y – those born between 1980 and 1995 – are deeply concerned about their futures, all over the world. Whether it’s housing shortages, job prospects or general political insecurity, Gen Y is worried. This has to be of concern for everyone.
Gen Y will soon become the largest living generation and will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025. The median age of employees of Google, Alibaba, and Tesla is 30 or below. They have a mix of interests and challenges, unprecedented new skills, different insights, and often a flair for entrepreneurship.
Take Rajeeb Dey, for example, named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Rajeeb wanted to make a difference to the opportunities of other young people and became an entrepreneur aged 17, while still at school. Rajeeb, like all Gen Y-ers, is one of the first generation of digital natives. Many are well educated, well travelled, digitally literate, ambitious and impatient to pursue activities that interest them.
They embrace casual work environments, co-working spaces, flexible working hours, online learning and flat company hierarchies. Their career values and use of technology is beginning to determine what the future of work might look like.
But this is not a simple tale of technological progress and utopian views of employment. Other Gen Y-ers are fearful of the future: half of young Spaniards are unemployed. They live in challenging economic circumstances, where automation and artificial intelligence threaten the future of jobs.
Gen Y’s attitudes towards work were shaped by the global financial crisis, which occurred while they were in high school, university or at the beginning of their career. They watched opportunities for graduate careers shrink and many saw their student debts rise sharply at the same time.
These challenges, and the realization that they will struggle in housing markets, are all the greater as they spent their childhoods during an economic boom. The conventional financial and career limitations they face sit alongside the way their parents raised them to “reach for the stars” and “do what makes you happy”. Rajeeb Dey formed his start-up, Enternships.com, in the depths of the recession.
Many Gen Y-ers are not too concerned about the impact of technology on their work – but they should be. While they are largely fluent in using technology, many are ignorant as to how it works, especially compared to Gen Z, the generation below, who learn digital skills, such as coding and programming, from primary school age. This suggests that Gen Y could be left behind by the next generation of digital technology.
Despite recent rapid changes, younger workers are slightly more likely than older workers to expect that their current jobs will exist 50 years in the future: 84% of workers aged 18 to 29 expect that this will be the case, compared with 76% of workers aged 50 and older. While Gen Y is aware of the challenges of technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence (AI), and confident they can live and work alongside them, it is up to them to create the jobs that allow them to do so. It is also up to them to be active learners and continue to improve their skills so that they do not get left behind.
Evidence that Gen Y is conscious of this is their keen use of online education providers such as Coursera, EdX and Udacity, which offer short, industry-specific courses on the use of new technologies. Udacity – university by industry – is an online provider of nanodegrees, supported by Google, Facebook, GitHub, IBM and other tech giants. It offers courses for self-driving car engineers, iOS developers, and machine learning engineers. Another provider, General Assembly, promotes itself as “the solution to the skills gap”, teaching courses in fields such as coding, UX design and digital marketing. Lynda.com offers more than 4,000 online courses in business, technology and creative skills. But the question remains as to whether learning to code, to work in companies like Salesforce is going to lead to a fulfilling career? Or is coding “the next blue collar job”?
Accessing these courses can be valuable, but there’s a risk that young people will favour them and skip traditional tertiary education, such as going to university. This risks them missing out on developing soft skills, learning the politics, history and cultural components behind their topics, and entering the workforce unprepared to deal with its complexities and uncertainties. They may learn about some of the technical issues of the day, but not how to thrive in the complex and confusing world of tomorrow. Gen Y needs to see these courses as supplementary and not as sufficient in themselves.
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With some justification, Gen Y complains government legislation favours older generations in areas such as tax allowances for pensions. Labour laws make it harder to lay off current employees who may be poor performers, which means there are fewer jobs available for young qualified graduates. At the same time, many Gen Y-ers have a strong sense of entitlement and expect to receive appreciation for their contributions. They demand flexibility with their work and lifestyle and change jobs far more often than older generations. This is sometimes seen as being flighty or unreliable.
Matching these high expectations in such unfavourable circumstances requires Gen Y to create its own future. But to achieve its goals, this generation needs to be more involved politically. In the 2012 US Presidential election, 46% of Gen Y voted as opposed to 61% of Gen X-ers, and 69% of Baby Boomers. The expectations of Gen Y-ers have to be matched by their taking more responsibility: they shouldn’t complain about political outcomes they did not involve themselves in.
As technology encroaches further into working lives, Gen Y-ers – the future of the workplace – must ensure they remain necessary and relevant. If they want to continue pursuing their progressive career values they must continue to improve their skills in order to work alongside automation and AI, rather than be made redundant by it. Gen Y needs to rise to the technological, political and social challenges that confront us all and get more involved in shaping the future of work.
Special thanks to Kate Dodgson, a Gen Y-er, who helped research this article.
Mark Dodgson, Director, Technology and Innovation Management Centre, University of Queensland Business School
David Gann, Vice President, Imperial College