2011 Salzburg Trilogue
Convergence, not consensus: New "software" for the global economy
Participants at the 10th Salzburg Trilogue call for a normative framework in a globalized world
New approaches are urgently needed for managing the global economy, with its conflicting interests, systemic risks and social and environmental costs. Structural reforms within existing institutions -- the "hardware" -- are not enough, even if they are discussed most often. Much more critical is finding new "software" that makes visible the priorities the global economy should address, along with the rules that can be used to resolve the conflicts which take place on a global level among actors and their interests. One key step towards creating a world economy less susceptible to crisis would be a charter for sustainable economic activity, worked out between Western and non-Western players. It would have to be written in easily understandable language that describes which economic, environmental and social goals should be achieved globally, as well as the political measures needed to achieve them. That was the conclusion participants reached as the 10th Salzburg Trilogue came to a close.
Held August 18-20, 2011, the event brought together 29 experts from 16 countries to examine current challenges relating to global governance. The discussion was influenced by recent upheavals on global stock markets and a survey carried out by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, in which nine out of ten people in Germany and Austria said that the global economy needs international regulations to prevent the world’s natural resources from being depleted and a global financial and economic crisis from recurring. At the same time, a majority of respondents said they are skeptical that legally binding regulations can be agreed upon or that another crisis can in fact be prevented.
While economic and technological globalization has long been a reality, supranational policymaking has only begun. Multilateralism no longer works in its current form, said Dino Djalal, a sentiment that found widespread agreement among the other participants. The global political order is incapable of managing the world’s complex problems and systemic risks through consensus (Ian Goldin), preventing overuse of the world’s shared goods, known as the "tragedy of the commons" (Sean Cleary), or internalizing the huge external costs of consumption growth resulting from the globe’s expanding population (Dennis Snower). According to Pascal Lamy, it is very disturbing to see the degree to which national interests determine the global agenda. The global economy requires a new framework, since the era of cheap natural resources and fossil fuels is now a thing of the past (Kandeh Yumkellah), as are the free ride (Chandran Nair) and Western economic powers’ position of dominance (Nicolas Berggruen). Key questions impacting the globe’s political order include: Can democracies achieve long-term, sustainable goals? To what extent are Asian and Western societies pursuing convergent goals? How should conflicting interests or priorities be resolved at the global level? Where is the political will to come from that is necessary for providing the global political order with a new foundation?
Among the solutions discussed, the charter for sustainable economic activity met with the widest acceptance. "For global sustainable development, we need new normative conditions. We have to make an effort and work out which norms these might be", argued Kandeh Yumkellah of UNIDO. These cannot be dictated from above, said French anthropologist Marc Abélès, but must be derived from the worldviews of people around the globe and their expectations for the future. "That is why some type of charter -- a description in easily comprehensible political terms of how we want to deal with globalization and its challenges -- needs to be created now as a response to problems in the political order," added Lamy. "Which is why this way of addressing global governance problems through a sort of charter, a sort of description in simple political terms, of what properly managing this globalization and its challenges, that’s the thing that I believe now needs to be done. I fully support what in the paper provided by Sean. Let’s try and address the problem this way. Knowing that we will encounter questions which are pretty disturbing questions for the present western ideological basement of the system we have. … If we don’t really succeed in creating this sense of common purpose, of common belonging in the name of which we have to do more things together and differently then we will remain with this extremely low level of energy; we will be making big speeches that there is a lack of leadership in the system. It’s ok, but advocating leadership in a vacuum doesn’t work, it’s just meaningless. There is no problem of leadership if people do not want their leaders to do something and if leaders are not accountable to that. We have to dig deeper than that."