Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Collaboration essential to overcome global challenges


Collective action and more effective transnational institutions are needed to tackle global challenges, say Brian Walker and colleagues.

International institutions tend to focus on individual problems without considering system-wide interactions. For example, planting forests to help combat climate change might simultaneously disrupt ecosystems targeted for biodiversity protection.

The Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution both issued separate statements on recent ocean fertilisation projects but the Framework Convention on Climate Change remained silent — even though the projects aimed to assess whether fertilisation could reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide.

We need systems that can deal with interactive effects, say the authors. This means working together. The challenge lies in designing institutions that encourage cooperation and overcome free-riding.

The authors offer three examples for taking institutional development forward. Regarding climate change, they suggest aligning national and global interests in international climate agreements and enforcing emission limits for trade-sensitive sectors. For high-seas fisheries, they propose a norm requiring all states responsible for managing fisheries to intercede when a country fails its obligations to the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

To combat drug resistance, the authors suggest amending the International Health Regulations to promote standards for drug use — by making all member countries collectively promote combination therapies for malaria treatment.

Link to full article in Science

We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.