- This week we will be exploring possible futures for global governance and the international system. I have framed the lectures this week around three possible futures: one in which current global governance arrangements muddle through, one in which the world suffers a dramatic social and political collapse due to the strains of environmental degradation, great power conflict, or some other catastrophe, and one in which the world pursues a project of global political integration that culminates in a world state.
Imagine what the future of global governance will be in 150 years. Which of these futures do you find most likely and why? Now imagine what global governance will look like in 500 years. Which of these future do you find most likely and why?
I would argue that in 150 years the current global governance arrangements will be largely maintained. State sovereignty and the present norms will still be followed by the international community. In addition, further regional integration will be achieved, especially within the European Union. However, Western powers will be sharing the international scene with non-Western states, such as the BRICS countries. Power balance will shift to reflect the emergence of these new actors. Even though states like the United States and European nations will remain influential, China will inevitably have a larger role in the field of international relations. To add, non-state actors, such as international organizations and NGOs will also have greater influence over global decisions, primarily in the field of climate change and human rights.
In 500 years, there will undoubtedly be a social and political collapse because of the strain of environmental degradation. The current global governance regimes do not adequately address the climate change threat. If that attitude transpires in the next 150 years, the future of the planet is doomed. As of 2021, we have already reached iceberg tipping points and sea levels are irreversibly rising. Problems such as environmental refugees, natural disasters, and other social catastrophes will cause the collapse of the current global governance order. Since no government will be able to prevent or control the crisis, individuals will be left to protect themselves in a state of anarchy. Trust in governments and global governance arrangements will forever be diminished