Governing Uncertainty

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    David Passarelli

    The UK Ministry of Defence has contracted an academic research paper on the future of global governance in support of Global Strategic Trends 7 from UNU-CPR. 

    The Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) is the Ministry of Defence’s internal think tank. One of DCDC’s roles is to look at how the world might change over the next 30 years and assess the strategic effects and defence and security implications which these trends might have, in order to inform MOD strategy and policy formulation (including UK defence and security reviews) and capability development. The programme has been running since 2001 and has produced six editions of its flagship publication, Global Strategic Trends; during this time it has reached a potential global media audience of 20 million people worldwide, and has been demanded by and delivered to departments across government as well as national and international stakeholders.

    In 2020 the project will deliver the seventh edition of Global Strategic Trends . Emphasis will be placed on systems analysis, looking at the interaction between society, the economy and the environment and at how trends in one area can have knock-on impacts in another. As a result of initial scoping work, a number of “ringroad” issues have been identified which have impact across and are impacted by all components of the system; one of these is global governance. As a result, in order to develop understanding of this area at the earliest opportunity and so provide a framework for subsequent analysis, it was deemed necessary to conduct research to examine how the actors and events which make up social, economic, military and political systems support, stress and stretch our understanding of global governance, and how changes in global governance structures, processes and outputs impact in turn on those actors and events.

    The approach to Global Strategic Trends 7 commissioned this research from CPR to support the development of the project. This allows for an increased scope and depth of research which maintains rigour of analysis and upholds DCDC’s reputation whilst satisfying resource boundaries (including in terms of personnel). The academic research paper on the future of global governance, maps threats and opportunities in this field over an approximately 30 year timeline. This is an unusually wide-ranging piece of work, requiring a high level of knowledge and understanding across a range of disciplines, including global defence and security and international relations as well as sociological and development studies. 

    This project is led by Dr David Passarelli (Executive Director of the Centre) and Mr Adam Day (Director of Programmes for the Centre). 

    The UNU Centre for Policy Research is well known to DCDC with engagement dating back over a number of years. In particular, the Centre provided inputs for the previous edition of Global Strategic Trends, which addressed the changing nature of organised crime and corruption and their impacts on state fragility, inequality and conflict. 

     It is envisaged that this research project will be based around a survey of major trends that will shape the future of global governance. It will map new trends in social, political, security and environment spaces, and how the interplay across these sectors impact on traditional and new development actors in their effort to deliver a transformative development agenda centred on social inclusion, shared prosperity and environmental sustainability. A central contribution will be to show how existing trends will impact development trajectories and development actors and highlight new forms and forums of cooperation which might emerge in the aftermath of the Covid 19 pandemic to rectify resource imbalances and address the needs of the most vulnerable. The analysis will document both new and emerging imbalances, and how these may destabilise the economic, political and military balance of power, particularly in fragile regions.