This year, the World Government Summit in Dubai is scheduled to take place from Feb. 12 to 14, under the theme ‘Shaping Future Governments.’ The event will facilitate discussions among governments, international organisations, thought leaders, and leaders from the private sector across the globe.
The summit aims to enhance international cooperation and equip governments with innovative tools and insights essential for tackling the looming global challenges. This comes at a time when the world is experiencing an increase in violent conflicts and the near collapse of the global order.
The current global landscape is fraught with increasing number of mass violence and survival challenges that underscore the critical need for cooperation and understanding among people, societies, and nations. Yet, historical patterns reveal a major predisposition towards conflict over collaboration, rooted in complex, multifaceted reasons.
Historically, the legacy of wars, territorial disputes, and colonialism has deeply influenced the dynamics of international relations and internal societal structures. These past conflicts have sown seeds of distrust and hostility that linger, complicating efforts towards cooperation.
The shadows of history are long, and they shape perceptions and actions in ways that often prioritise conflict over cooperation and finding collaborative solutions as we witness in Ukraine, Gaza or Sudan.
‘Us’ versus ‘them’
Psychologically, the tendency to categorise ‘us’ versus ‘them’ is a fundamental human trait. This in-group versus out-group mentality fosters suspicion and antagonism, significantly hindering the potential for cooperation.
Such psychological barriers are not easily overcome, as they are deeply ingrained in the collective consciousness of societies and nations, manifesting in nationalistic fervour or ethnic divisiveness.
These barriers are getting much worse these days as they get a fertile ground to grow with economic hardship and political brinkmanship.
Economically, competition for resources, trade advantages, and market access often pits nations and societies against each other. The zero-sum game mentality, where one party’s gain is perceived as another’s loss, leads to conflicts that overshadow the potential benefits of economic cooperation.
In a world where economic interdependencies are increasingly evident, this perspective is not only outdated but also harmful, as they lead to conflicts among major powers where collaboration could yield mutual benefits.
Politically, the drive for power and influence often motivates leaders to adopt aggressive postures, sometimes exploiting nationalist sentiments for domestic gain. The anarchic nature of international relations, without a well-functioning Security Council to enforce peace and cooperation, further exacerbates this tendency.
Despite these challenges, the global community faces existential threats that necessitate unprecedented levels of cooperation. Climate change, pandemics, natural disasters, resource scarcity, water insecurity, and economic crises do not respect national or racial or ethnic borders, affecting humanity as a whole.
Devising effective solutions
As the 2024 World Government Summit envisages, these challenges require a collective response, leveraging shared knowledge, resources, and technologies to devise effective solutions.
The interconnected nature of global challenges means that actions in one area can have far-reaching implications across multiple domains. Cooperative efforts enable holistic approaches that consider these interconnections, leading to more sustainable and effective solutions.
For instance, addressing climate change through cooperative international agreements not only mitigates environmental impact but also promotes energy security and economic resilience.
In an interconnected world, the concept of shared vulnerabilities is increasingly relevant. The Covid-19 pandemic underscored the need for global cooperation in health security, demonstrating that viruses know no borders. Economic interdependence further underscores the need for cooperation.
In a globalised economy, crises in one region can quickly ripple across the world, affecting international markets and economies. Cooperative economic policies and financial mechanisms can mitigate these impacts, stabilising affected regions and preventing global economic downturns.
A wave of transformation
Moreover, cooperation is essential for the advancement and sharing of knowledge and technology, especially in addressing complex challenges like climate change and pandemics. Cooperation also plays a crucial role in maintaining global peace and security.
By addressing underlying causes of conflict such as resource scarcity and economic inequality, collaborative efforts can reduce the likelihood of conflict, fostering a more peaceful international environment. Furthermore, the pooling of resources in cooperative endeavours, though the UN system ensures that efforts are more efficient and effective, maximising the impact of interventions to address global challenges.
Ethically and morally, cooperation reflects a commitment to equity, justice, and the shared dignity of all people. It acknowledges that global challenges disproportionately affect the world’s most vulnerable populations and that collective action is necessary to create a fairer, more inclusive world.
While the path to cooperation is fraught with historical, psychological, economic, political, and cultural obstacles, the urgency of current global challenges demands a concerted effort to overcome these barriers. The future of our planet and the well-being of all its inhabitants depend on our ability to work together towards common goals.
As we face existential threats that transcend borders, through a collaborative and forward-thinking platform, the World Government Summit of this year seeks to catalyse a wave of transformation in how governments operate, ensuring they are better prepared to navigate the complexities of the future.