Future of Globalization

Part III: A New Social Contract

It is time to work out a new social contract that allows everyone to lead a proper life and determine it to a larger extent.

Credit: Joachim Wendler Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • Rather than advancing their own benefits, elites can -- and must -- be formidable agents of change for good.
  • The United Nations Agenda 2030 shows that there are a lot of urgent matters still on the to-do list.
  • Most people concur with the idea that we should have a global organization of world affairs.
  • Lobbying should be replaced by a transparent mechanism of policy and decision making.

Rather than advancing their own benefits, elites can — and must — be formidable agents of change for good.

Therefore, they should (be able to) live up to their responsibilities for the future of our planet and coming generations in proportion to their wealth, power and positions.

Reform of the United Nations

The United Nations have been a useful instrument to progress world affairs in a number of areas. However, it has failed to produce world peace, to eliminate the production and proliferation of arms and to reduce the level of inequality in the world.

The United Nations Agenda 2030 shows that there are a lot of urgent matters still on the to-do list.

Most people concur with the idea that we should have a global organization of world affairs, and that national egoism should be largely overcome.

In contrast to the current concept of a “world government,” however, we need a more decentralized, participatory and diverse approach, which leaves freedom to experiment with new solutions.

Therefore, regions should play a more important role. They could form global cooperation networks to address shared problems more effectively.

For example, they could regularly perform City Olympics, i.e. engage in friendly competitions to innovate, find and implement the best energy-saving, environmentally-friendly, socially responsible, sustainable and resilient solutions.

To foster open innovation, these solutions shall be shared with the world under open source and Creative Commons licenses.

More transparency, less lobbying

Lobbying by industrial and other interests should be replaced by a transparent mechanism of policy and decision making.

Therefore, industry representatives should sit in the World Council suggested below, while in the future, traditional lobbying should be abolished by law (as it constitutes an non-transparent form of attaining political influence).

In order to make sure that decision-making will be based on facts, science should be represented in the envisaged World Council too. Furthermore, the presence of citizen representatives should ensure that the interests of normal people are represented as well.

The following illustration represents the suggested composition of the proposed World Council:

World Council

• Each of the four sections of the World Council would be of equal size (e.g., 1,000 representatives each). The Council should aim to achieve the best possible balance over world regions and interests.

• There should be no veto right. Instead, binding votes should require a “grand majority” of two thirds. If this grand majority is not reached, one should offer choices to enable locally fitting solutions and some degree of diversity, e.g. by creating a “best of list of solutions.”

If an urgent vote must be taken and the choice of a single solution is inevitable, the proposed solution getting the highest number of votes should be implemented, but the solution should be temporary in nature, carefully evaluated, and taken back, if necessary.

• The first and main duty of members of the Council is to serve the interest of the world, and their activities must be fully transparent (particularly in sensitive matters, activities may be recorded and disclosed with a 10 year delay).

Decisions should be taken on the basis of individual insights, not formal or informal memberships of political parties or interest groups.

• Members of the Council will have to completely disclose their property, sources of income, formal or informal memberships, special opportunities and anything that might compromise independence or create a conflict of interest.

• The business sector may devise their own rules to select their representatives, but the rules should be approved by the other three council parts.

• Citizen representatives would be chosen in each region based on an open competition transmitted by public media, in which willing participants would demonstrate their knowledge and commitment to the public interest.

• Scientific representatives should be internationally leading experts, who are economically independent and cover the scope of fields and disciplines in a balanced way. Their research must be funded in full by public sources.

It is unacceptable for these members to pursue (or have pursued in the past 7 years) research on behalf of companies or foundations, as these may have a special agenda and bias the scope of research or amount of resources invested in certain questions, approaches or solutions.

• Representatives from the four sectors would have to be completely disentangled. Family or other ties, interest groups, political parties or other parties are strictly discouraged in the interest of representative, unbiased decision-making.

The attempt to undermine independent decision-making will be sanctioned by exclusion from the World Council.

• The World Council will establish and run “democratic capitalism” and a multi-dimensional, socio-ecological finance or incentive system as described below. Its members may get a certain percentage of new value created by it, i.e. payoffs shall be performance-based.

Taxes (money to create public goods) shall also be directly derived from this new monetary and financial system.

• The Council’s may be led by a 24 person group of people, composed of 6 elected representatives of each section, which would be coordinated by a chair person.

The decisions of this Steering Group would be preliminary and would have to be approved by the World Council. Otherwise they will run out by the end of the next World Council meeting.

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About Dirk Helbing

Dirk Helbing is Professor of Computational Social Science at the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences and affiliate of the Computer Science Department at ETH Zurich.

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