It’s time to recognize the unsung heroes of international relations. In the absence of genuine global solutions in key areas such as trade and climate change among others, the world’s regional organizations have been discreetly but doggedly working to advance their agendas for peace, prosperity and security.
Take the peace-building efforts of the African Union in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, or ASEAN’s efforts to lead the creation a free trade zone in Asia that could account for 40% of world trade. Or the European Union, whose quiet achievement of eliminating the prospect of war saw it recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. All these accomplishments, combined, have made regional institutions and initiatives key instruments in driving international cooperation.
This may be our best chance to get the global agenda moving again.Miroslav Dusek
This has got us to the stage where, today, over one third of the total flow of goods and services around the world is carried out within the framework of regional trade agreements. Further dividends of the emergence of these organizations as a force in their own right can be found in the widened mandates of regional development banks such as those in Africa and Asia, both of which are carrying out important work fostering inclusive and sustainable growth.
At the same time, it’s necessary to point out the limitations that keep these organizations’ ambitions in check. Resource and scale are issues, as they are the world over, but access to world class expertise is emerging as a key issue, particularly given the ever more interconnected nature of both opportunities and threats in the international system.
In the World Economic Forum’s Outlook on the Global Agenda, which was published this week, the academic Geoffrey West argues that, with the right amount of data, it is possible to calculate with 80-90% accuracy the income levels, crime rate, even the number of petrol stations in any given city anywhere in the world. This despite the hugely varying geography, history and culture from one city to another. The benefits of making this knowledge widespread holds vast promise for furthering growth, addressing climate change and improving social stability for every region of the world.
The 2nd Global Meeting of Regional Organizations, which is being held in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 18 and 19, aims to do just this: provide a platform for dialogue so thatkey regional organizations can learn from one another, build closer ties, develop opportunities for cooperation and collaboration. In addition, by being held in parallel to the 2013 Summit on the Global Agenda, leaders of these organizations will be able to draw on the knowledge base of over 900 Global Agenda Council members, all world-class leaders in their own field, be it food security, energy sustainablity or another of the 86 separate and distinct councils within the network.
As co-hosts along with the United Arab Emirates, we hope the Meeting of Regional Organizations will help constituents further their own agendas on matters most important to them, such as equitable growth, peacebuilding and peacekeeping, and advance other shared priorities too. It may be our best chance to get the global agenda moving again.
Miroslav Dusek is director and head the of Middle East and North Africa region, World Economic Forum. He holds MA in International Studies, University of Reading, UK; Arabic Language Certificate, Kuwait University. Between 2003 and 2007, Dusek was assistant, then director at the American Center, U.S. Embassy, Prague, responsible for managing public information programs ranging from expert conferences to academic competitions and publications. Between 2007 2011, he worked as public diplomacy specialist, U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, responsible for relations with Iraqi media and for a number of education and cultural projects. Since 2011, he worked as acting director, head of Middle East and North Africa, World Economic Forum, responsible for the design of MENA summits and for the coordination of the Forum's Arab Business Council. He authored articles on Middle East politics and economics for Czech print media. Expertise: public diplomacy in the Muslim world; international relations of the Mediterranean; the role of think tanks in transitional societies.
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