Global Failure to Cooperate

Why is it that we constantly hear about problems such as global warming, hunger, epidemics, and other critical issues, yet after all the talking we still make very little progress combating these issues? Jean-Francois Rischard believes this is due to a global failure to cooperate on fighting these issues.

He discusses the current methods used: treaties/conventions, UN summits, groups like the G8 or G20, international organizations like the IMF and WTO.

The treaties generally fail on the large scale due to a lack of many nations to join, inability to enforce the treaties, or simply not doing enough to solve the problems which they address.

The international organizations also fail mostly because they are too specific and therefore ignore problems outside their given duties. The G8 summit and similar conferences also succeed in doing not much more than addressing short term issues or announcing long term issues, but not sufficiently acting upon them.

Rischard estimates that solving the 20 problems in his book would cost $1 trillion a year, or 3% of global GDP. Therefore, this is affordable. Yet, as he mentions, modern nations have a problem sharing not only the land, but also humanity. So economic and social issues that could be solved with a serious coalition effort are brushed aside due to a lack of will by the capable nations to solve them.

Of course, it is stating the obvious by saying that much more could be done to fight the pressing issues of our time. It is also stating the obvious by saying that the gap between rich and poor nations is extremely large, and there is no serious effort to close that gap.

One must ask, then, why is that? If we as a species have the resource and capability to substantially increase the living standard of most of the world through global coalition efforts, why don’t we do so? With all of our intelligence and ingenuity, we still seem to lack compassion for others of the same human race.

Whatever the excuse is, whether its our primate behavior, our politically divided planet, or the free market forces exploiting this wealth gap, the fact is that we can solve these problems with international coalitions. As Rischard says, these problems cannot wait 30 years or more. Many, like climate change, needed to be seriously addressed years ago, or within 20 years at the max.

I believe the UN is the most capable of creating these international coalitions, though it would also take efforts from outside entities to truly solve the problems. Maybe, as these problems grow, the international community will find it inevitable that they work together to seriously address these problems.

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One Comment on “Global Failure to Cooperate”


  1. I think that where you are missing the point is expecting government to do something about these problems. Historically, government doesn’t do much well.

    Global warming expenditures of the sort that the UN wants would require massive spending for little change. Humans are masters of adaptation and can deal with a changing climate. A warmer climate would actually mean longer growing seasons and fewer cold-related deaths. On the other hand, there is the possibility that the whole thing is a natural cycle related to solar activity.

    With respect to third world nations, the answer is not handouts, but to create an ownership society. People value what they earn, not what is given to them. Government handouts to the third world have too often led to corruption and propped up dictatorships.

    That is not to say that there is no place for charity, but private charities can do a better job because they become involved on a personal level, not just have bureaucrats throw money at the problem. Private charities are more likely to be careful with their money because they have to raise it, not just take taxes.


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