How do we run the world better?

Stephen Hall -

The Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations has just released a fascinating report entitled “Now for the Long Term“. The report asks: how we can avoid future crises and overcome our inability to address big challenges that will shape our world?

A key recommendation in the report is to make more use of boundary spanning multi-stakeholder coalitions, often called Global Action Networks or GANs, to try and deal with specific problems. I whole-heartedly agree.

Global Action Networks operate through a network of organizations rather than relying on governance by a single regulating stakeholder; they are a powerful way to tackle the world’s problems. The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and the GAVI Alliance to increase access to immunisation in poor countries are excellent examples.

WorldFish participates in the Global Partnership for Oceans, championed by the World Bank and involving a huge array of institutional partners including NGOs, the private sector, UN Agencies, governments and academia. This initiative has the potential to have a large positive impact in the marine domain.

The World Bank, has tried hard to be inclusive in their approach and a recent report by an independent blue ribbon panel has proposed the following set of principles for prioritizing investments by the partnership:

  1. sustainable livelihoods, social equity, and food security;
  2. a healthy ocean;
  3. effective governance systems;
  4. long-term viability;
  5. capacity building and innovation.

It is especially pleasing to see sustainable livelihoods, social equity and food security at the top of the list.

Of course, setting priorities is one thing – stimulating and sustaining the collective action needed to achieve outcomes is another. For any GAN that requires continued attention to inclusive dialogue and fostering shared ownership of the initiative and it requires all partners to step up and do their part. If we do, the potential of the GPO is enormous.

Stephen Hall

Stephen Hall

Stephen Hall's previous leadership roles include CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and Professor of Marine Biology at Flinders University, Australia. Stephen has served on several international advisory panels and, in 2010, was a member of a global team overseeing the reform of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Recognized as a leading scientist in his field, he has contributed more than 80 scientific publications on fisheries ecology and environmental issues as well as a highly cited book on the environmental effects of fishing. In 2004, Stephen was awarded a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation and he continues to investigate and write on the roles and potential of fisheries and aquaculture for supporting international development objectives. In 2005, he was awarded the Australian Public Service Medal for leadership of AIMS. Stephen holds a Ph.D. in Marine Ecology from St. Andrews University and a B.S. in Marine Biology and Biochemistry from University of Wales, Bangor.

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