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The Future of International Institutions

May 2, 2018

The World Academy of Arts & Sciences is organising a Colloquium with organisations including the World University Consortium, and a number of academic institutions, in Paris in early May. The topic is “The Role and Impact of International Institutions on Economic Theory and Policy”. I am kicking it off with a talk on “The near future to 2030 and its potential impact on the role and impact of International Institutions on Economic Theory and Policy”. The abstract of the talk is as follows:

“Post World War II, UN-connected international institutions have been highly influential in developing economic theory and policy. In this paper we examine the global megatrends which are shaping the world in new directions and explore some of the implications for international institutions and economic policy.

We use the expression ‘megatrend’ to describe grand directions of travel in economic, social, political, technological or environmental spheres. Whilst the study of megatrends is a subset of foresight and scenario planning, the megatrends themselves inform national and company-sized foresight work, We have developed the ideas outlined in this paper in part through extensive work with global organisations  – they will be developed in more detail in Getting to 2032: Megatrends creating A Different World(Lustig, P and Ringland, G, Cambridge Scholarly Publishing, autumn 2018.

The world seems really chaotic at the moment.  As we write, headlines overturn many of our assumptions almost daily. How can thinking about megatrends help?

First, trends are not forecasts – they suggest directions of travel.

GR WAAS blog

What they do is to provide a framework. Sometimes it is hard to spot major changes as they unfold around us because they do not make headlines. However, these trends are happening now and have effects both now and in the longer term.

Megatrends have far-reaching implications for economic policy. For instance, digital technologies: the paper will build on discussions within the European Commission’s Research, Innovation and Science Policy Experts Group. Their recent report argued that the advent of digital technologies is making science and innovation more open, collaborative and global, with clear implications for economic policy. Other megatrends – such as demographics, migration and inequality – also have clear implications for economic policy. Many of the trends constrain nation states and governments financially. And of course the trend away from the Washington consensus towards a multi-polar world is central to considering the future of international institutions.

The overall net effect by 2032 is likely to be the reduced funding of international institutions, due to a multi-polar international environment and the decreased ability of nation states to contribute – as they wrestle with shrinking revenues and unmet demands from their populations. We conclude by asking how this will affect economic policies by 2032.”

The colloquium promises to be a fascinating three days, with contributions from across the globe and based on analysis of a range of international and transnational organisations.

I will blog again after the colloquium.

Written by Gill Ringland, SAMI Fellow Emeritus.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of SAMI Consulting.

Set up by the University of St Andrews as the St Andrew’s Management Institute over 25 years ago, SAMI Consulting helps leaders and their organizations take robust decisions in uncertain times. We work with clients in business and government to explore the key drivers of change and use a range of tools and techniques, such as scenario planning, to help clients understand how political, economic, societal, and technological forces will shape their future.

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