Brief

The Summit of the Future is a Chance to ‘Human Proof’ Our Global Governance System

How do we overcome our innate tendency to prefer the present, undervalue big systemic risks, and ignore the needs of future generations?

This Technical Note outlines specific steps that can be taken to ‘human-proof’ global governance – adopting a design architecture that combats our innate tendency to prefer the present, undervalue big systemic risks, and ignore the needs of future generations. The approach it puts forward draws on the idea that although we have free will, our collection behaviour can be shaped through conscious design.

The ideas it shares, which could all be part of the lead-up to the Summit of the Future, include:

Isolating us from presentism. Governments should invest in spaces, positions, and processes that are not susceptible to the pressures of the present.

Developing a ‘gap report’ on global catastrophic risk. As with the United Nations Environment Programme’s Emissions Gap Report there is a strong psychological impact of seeing a gap between our goals/commitments and where we are today.

Investing in capacities for the future. Committing to future generations at the Summit of the Future and setting aside funds would enable long-term research, scenario-based planning, and/or agent-based modeling of the future.

Securing the rights of future generations. The Summit of the Future would be the ideal forum to articulate a set of rights for future generations, which could cascade across our governance systems in much the same way as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights did 75 years ago.

'Leapfrogging' the present. To ‘future proof’ global governance we need to think bigger, and we probably need to ‘leapfrog’ many of today’s technologies and incremental mindsets – breaking out of small-scale reforms and thinking in transformative ways about change.

Read 'The Summit of the Future is a Chance to ‘Human-Proof’ Our Global Governance System' here.

Suggested citation: The Summit of the Future is a Chance to ‘Human Proof’ Our Global Governance System : UNU-CPR, 2024.

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