High-level UN Advisory Board calls for a new, collective global order

The UN High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs called at its recent meeting in New York for a new multilateral order based on collective global political leadership and accountability. As the world faces increasingly complex challenges, collective actions to solve them are needed more than ever, the Board’s members stressed. The Board, consisting of 16 globally renowned experts on economic and social policy, including former Heads of State, a Nobel Laurate and other intellectual leaders, was convened by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) to advise to the United Nations on broad economic and social issues, including frontier and emerging challenges. At its third meeting, held at the UN Headquarters last week, the Board members underscored the importance of multilateralism, noting that the current global growth trajectory is unlikely to deliver sustainable development. The Board also stressed that the world should pursue a growth model that better prioritizes inclusiveness and environmental sustainability. Overcoming the constraints to sustainable global growth will require countries working together on such issues as ensuring financial stability and investment in productive activities. Convening the Board’s meeting, Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, and head of UN DESA, stressed the urgency of rebuilding public trust in institutions, as multilateralism is under immense pressure. The loss of trust in multilateralism reflects the insufficient evolution of the multilateral system in adapting to the accelerated and expanded globalization, Mr. Liu noted. As a result, inequality has deepened in many parts of the world, and economic and social imbalances have escalated, fueling instability and insecurity. The Advisory Board stressed the pressing need for reforming the global system, noting that the international community needs to balance ambitions with political feasibility. Ms. Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), highlighted the potential of regional multilateralism as a bridge to rebuilding public trust in multilateralism. The Board also discussed other potential means to restore public confidence in multilateralism, such as addressing “small irritants” in the multilateral system and directing international efforts towards addressing technically important, but politically less controversial issues. Technology was a central topic of the Advisory Board’s meeting. Its members expressed concern about the rising market concentration in technology industries, which are dominated by a number of multinational firms with an unprecedented global reach and impact. Such market concentration partly contributes to rising inequality and hinders innovation. The Board also emphasized that technological advances lead to shift of power balance in political economy and change the way public and governments interact, which will require an adjustment of our current political institutions.

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