Future Design: For the Survival of Humankind
Humanity has been experiencing a breakdown of peace due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, collapses of the Earth’s circulatory system including cycles of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and a collapse of biodiversity. These problems are related to our survival.
At meetings of world leaders, including the G7 and G20, the only discussion has been from now to the future. Discussions about the future have been hampered by the short-term interests of individual countries, which have prevented us from reaching agreements and developing creative visions for the long-term future. As the future generations do not have any voice to bargain with the present generation, the present generation may take civil and military decisions which may unintentionally harm future generations.
Long-term future design has advanced greatly over the past three decades. Techniques such as Scenario planning, statistical long cycle forecasting and back casting have become popular. UNESCO’s Futures Literacy Labs seeks to improve Futures Literacy as a basic competency that anyone can acquire. It uncovers advanced approaches to designing and using the future to build capacity to discern and make sense of complex emergence. Future literacy can help overcome fear and antipathy towards the uncertainty that is inherent in a non-deterministic universe.
Research has found that in discussing long-term future issues, solutions become more creative and innovative by utilizing “future point of view”. We have developed the method of Future Design (FD) to systematically allow policy makers to imagine policies from a future point of view. When we think about the future from the present, we tend to get caught up in the present. Because the vectors of each proposal have different directions, we cannot reach consensus and have to make compromise. FD can provide individuals, organisations and governments access to a better understanding of the world, and to act in accordance with our values through the consideration of the richness of experimentation, innovation and creativity that surrounds us. We would like to see the leaders of the G7 use FD and become imaginary future presidents or imaginary future prime ministers, to debate and negotiate future policies. We propose to try out the Future Design method on a challenging contemporary issue at a smaller scale.
Let us reduce future failures that burden future generations and make sure that future generations say “thank you” to their ancestors who made bold transformations at Schloss Elmau in 2022.
People First – New Solutions to the Challenge of Displacement
More than 82 million people – equal to the population of Germany – are forcibly displaced across the globe. An increasing number of refugees and internally displaced persons are living in long-term situations of vulnerability, dependency, and legal insecurity. This is despite the fact that every displaced person has the capacity and resources to build a new future in displacement but is rarely given the chance to do so by current aid, development, and migration policies. This policy brief makes the case for a paradigm shift towards a people-centred approach to displacement policy that 1) considers the human capital and social networks of displaced people and 2) enables them to use and further develop their potential, including through mobility. As the world’s most powerful countries, the G7 are well positioned to play a game-changing role in reducing the scale of global displacement by:
- leading global cooperation on displacement;
- promoting displaced people’s professional expertise so they can make better use of their skills;
- strengthening human capital by promoting education and apprenticeship opportunities;
- leveraging the power of family networks so that its easier for them to support one another; and
- scaling up support for the most vulnerable individuals.
WTO 2.0 – Making the Multilateral Trading System Fit for the 21st Century and How the G7 Can Help
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is in its deepest crisis since its creation. This relates to each of its three pillars: 1. trade liberalization and rules-setting, 2. trade policy monitoring, and 3. dispute settlement. Germany’s G7 Presidency will require a careful balancing between addressing long-standing issues such as aligning the WTO with the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and reforming the dispute settlement process on one hand side and focusing on the immediate challenges presented by the geopolitical crisis as well as recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. This requires, more than ever, multilateral collaboration and innovative and interdisciplinary solutions. The G7 countries, in close cooperation with their partners, have a unique opportunity to articulate a new vision for trade and the multilateral trading system. The G7 can lead by example while also incentivizing and supporting other nations to raise the level of ambition in aligning trade policies with current world challenges. As such, the goal should not be to try to re-establish the status quo but rather to adapt the world trading systems and its rules to the realities and necessities of the 21st century and the new geopolitical context. What is needed is a WTO 2.0 that responds to the world’s peace, health and environmental challenges and proactively contributes to solving them.
Reinforcing United Nations Funding: How the G7 Can Strengthen Multilateralism
The Group of 7 (G7) comprises some of the largest donors to the United Nations (UN). This is why the G7 is uniquely positioned to address challenges stemming from a UN revenue profile that heavily relies on unpredictable forms of voluntary finance. If the G7 is serious about wanting a more effective UN system for managing an expanding list of global threats – in line with the programme of the German G7 presidency – individual UN entities must be solidly financed to ensure their independent capacity to act. The need to strengthen the UN has become even more urgent with Russia’s war against Ukraine that represents a major challenge to the legitimacy and effectiveness of a rules-based international order. With regard to UN funding, the G7 should work towards (1) raising assessed contributions across the UN system, starting with the World Health Organisation; (2) tweaking the formula used to calculate each member state’s share of assessed contributions to give due consideration to evolving global challenges; (3) ensuring that the formula is fit for delivering on the global functions of the UN; and (4) reinforcing mechanisms for penalising arrears. Such financing reforms would strengthen the UN’s role as a foundational global public good through which transnational challenges can be tackled.
Identifying “Impact Hubs” for Agenda 2030 and G7 Commitment to Agenda 2030 “Policy Tags” (SDG Tags)
The proposal is in three parts but aimed at a singular goal: achieving measurable progress toward the successful fulfillment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The first element is to have the G7 members collectively map the key “impact hubs” as described by Anne-Marie Slaughter and Gordon LaForge (2021). The second element is to obtain a G7 commitment to identify what principal SDG, or SDGs, is promoted or advanced with every policy initiative or announcement, whether administrative, legislative, or executive through the use of SDG Tags. The third and final element of the proposal urges G7 efforts to obtain G20 adoption of the initiative.
The G7 and Multilateralism in Times of Aggression: Maintaining and Strengthening Cooperative and Inclusive Approaches for the Global Common Good
President Putin’s aggression against Ukraine is, in the first place, a disaster for the people of Ukraine. At the same time, it is an attack on peace and security, international law, and a cooperative world order. Russia’s war in many ways also jeopardizes the efforts to maintain and strengthen other global public goods and to address humanity’s common and collective challenges, which have been growing over the past years with a steep rise during the ongoing pandemic. It will also affect international forums that are needed to facilitate cooperative action. Other concerns and the concerns of others are in danger of being massively overshadowed – to the detriment of global solidarity in times of aggression. Preventing this is
a core task of the G7 in 2022. The G7 under the German Presidency should position itself in a way that responds to Russia’s aggression without throwing its medium- and long-term priority agenda overboard as the addressed challenges remain equally pressing. While the summit and the ministers’ meetings will very likely show a strong focus on the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the G7 should overall stick to the five priority areas rolled out by the German Presidency – sustainable planet, economic stability and transformation, healthy lives, investment in a better future and stronger together. It should at the same time supplement, adapt, and link them to the evolving situation and necessities, including by supporting measures that address the negative economic and social impacts of the war and the sanctions on third countries. When implementing its policy initiatives, we recommend that the G7 takes an extra effort and invests its political and economic clout in intensified international cooperation for the global common good. The G7 should do so by linking up its activities with other partners, by bolstering inclusive global governance institutions, and through tethering plurilateral and multi-stakeholder formats to a strengthened United Nations and other multilateral organisations.
A Seat at the Table: A G7 Partnership With Africa
Africa’s representation on the global stage, including and especially in terms of its contribution to global policymaking in key areas that impact its development, is disproportionate to the extent to which it is affected by these policies. Therefore, in order to bolster Africa’s contribution to efforts supporting climate-related policies, public health, and economic development, this policy brief proposes that the G7 establish a ‘G7 Partnership with Africa’ analogous to that of the G20 Compact with Africa. Setting the G7 Partnership with Africa apart from the G20 is its multifaceted focus and low barriers to entry. It is envisioned as a mutually beneficial arrangement for G7 and African countries to improve cooperation on critical issues in health, climate and business related affairs, allow African countries greater agency in determining the policies that affect them the most, while developing inclusive and systematic engagement between the G7 and the African continent.