Shaping the Future in a Fast Changing World

“No one country, alone, is able to respond
to the totality of challenges that will come over the next decade”

Looking out to 2030, we can be quite certain that the disruptions being experienced by the global system – to established relationships, approaches and institutions – will persist. And while there is no doubt this poses important challenges for countries like Canada, there are also opportunities, especially to innovate on global policy, including in establishing new partnerships. Successfully navigating this new normal of ambiguity and uncertainty will require Canada to be at once a convenor, connector and catalyst, and both citizens and government have roles to play.

Positioning Canada for 2030 in a World of Dynamic Change
Simon Fraser University Centre for Dialogue
Public Lecture: January 30th, 2019

Trends and Drivers that Will Shape Our Common Future

Looking to 2030, we can be quite certain that the current global policy context of ‘dynamic evolution’ will persist – posing challenges for established relationships, approaches and institutions, but also opportunities for innovation and new, cross-regional and multi-stakeholder, collaborations. But to seize on the latter, and build resilience to the ambiguity and uncertainty that is expected to prevail, governments and citizens will need to come together around re-defined common purposes.

Greater than the sum of international laws, norms and institutions that frame contemporary international affairs, the current ‘rules-based international order’ has entered the lexicon as a marker of the shared values that have largely united the global community since the immediate post-WWII period. Far from being static, however, this system has and must continue to evolve to remain relevant to citizens and states.

The urgency

There is growing recognition of the urgency of this task. There is a need to account for the re-balancing of global power relations, the new technologies that connect and amplify voices in all regions and levels of society, and the effects of evolving societal, economic and environmental trends and hazards. Certainly, over the next decade, rapid urbanization, climate change, social inequity, networked terrorism, protracted forced displacement, irregular migration, shifting demographics will remain mainstays. Phenomena such as these are already testing our communities, governments and international institutions’ ability to mitigate and respond effectively to their impacts. Other dominant drivers such as a growing mistrust of expert and technological solutions to significant global challenges, and the effects of protectionism, populism and xenophobia have further eroded confidence in the current rules-based order.

Need for trust in our collective systems

No one country, alone, is able to respond to the totality of challenges that will come over the next decade. The onus is on us to focus today’s collective attention and actions on ensuring that the necessary trust in our collective systems does not falter further, just when joint efforts and positive citizen engagement are needed the most, to face uncertainty in an evolving global ecosystem.

Need for innovative global solutions

To respond to the challenges ahead, Canada is determined to help defend the best of the rules-based international order and assist with updating it for the 21st century. We do this by embracing innovative global solutions, pioneering issue-based alliances, promoting gender equality and respect for diversity, acting as advocates for results-based multilateralism and the rule of law, and by revitalizing our partnerships in Canada and abroad – including on issues such as labour, the environment, gender and indigenous rights. Acting as a convener, connector and catalyst of necessary change is at the heart of Canada’s efforts to modernize the World Trade Organization and pursue an inclusive trade agenda; in our work to advance the UN reform agenda including gender-responsive peacekeeping; and in our pursuit of new ways to invest our international aid so it will leverage more funds for sustainable development, including from the private sector, and to advance women’s empowerment.

Focusing on what unites us

Ultimately, a broad coalition, recommitted to what we share in common, must be forged at national, regional and international levels. Focusing on what unites us – not what sets us apart – is the best path towards a future of shared prosperity, peace and stability that we all want.

Canada is determined to do its part.

Global Trends to 2030 – The Future of Democracy and Governance
2018 Annual Conference: The European Strategy and Policy Analysis System
Elissa Golberg, Assistant Deputy Minister; Strategic Policy at Global Affairs Canada – PDF

Elissa Golberg

Elissa Golberg is Assistant Deputy Minister for Strategic Policy at Global Affairs Canada. She is also currently the department’s Champion for Innovation and Experimentation, and Head of Performance Management and Results. Ms. Golberg has held several senior Canadian government roles, including Assistant Deputy Minister, Partnerships for Development Innovation; Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Geneva and to the Conference on Disarmament; Director-General of the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force; and Representative of Canada in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Ms. Golberg holds a Master’s degree in International Relations. She has been a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and has published articles on humanitarian, fragile state and public policy related matters.

The European Strategy and Policy Analysis System

The European Strategy and Policy Analysis System provides a framework for cooperation and consultation at administrative level, on a voluntary basis, to work together on medium and long-term trends facing or relating to the European Union.

ESPAS was initiated in 2010, when a pilot project launched by the European Parliament laid the foundations for cooperation and dialogue between the four participating organizations. The result of this pilot was the publication of a report in the spring of 2012 by the Union Institute for Security Studies entitled Global Trends 2030 – Citizens in an Interconnected and Polycentric World which assessed the long-term political and economic environment facing the EU. The report identified several global trends that will shape the world in 2030. They include:

  • empowerment of the individual, which may contribute to a growing sense of belonging to a single human community
  • greater stress on sustainable development against a backdrop of greater resource scarcity and persistent poverty, compounded by the consequences of climate change
  • the emergence of a more polycentric world, which could also be characterised by a shift of power away from states
  • growing governance gaps as the mechanisms for inter-state relations may fail to respond adequately to global public demands.

2012 Global Trends 2030 – Citizens in an Interconnected and Polycentric World – PDF

In 2012, three inter-institutional working groups were set up to oversee an intensive analytical process, including outreach to those interested in engaging with ESPAS, in order to draft trend reports in three key fields: the economy, society, and governance and power. The process resulted in the publication of the report Global Trends to 2030: Can the EU meet the challenges ahead?

2015 Global Trends to 2030 – Can the EU meet the challenges ahead – PDF

Under the guidance of the inter-institutional steering group, the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System network will continuously update the ESPAS knowledge base on key long-term trends, with particular emphasis on unexpected trends or strongly revised assessments. An Annual European Strategy and Policy Analysis System Conference will be held.

The European Strategy and Policy Analysis System

Union Institute for Security Studies

Global governance, – understood as a combination of security providers, policies and underlying norms – is directly affected by the simultaneous evolution of threats and shifting centres of power. On the one hand, the world remains characterized by instability, conflict and human suffering, as well as by high levels of strategic uncertainty. On the other, institutions like the United Nations, the African Union or the European Union itself – as well as non-governmental organizations – have developed a wide range of tools to tackle evolving dangers.

International law and regimes, including norms on intervention – peacekeeping, the responsibility to protect – or justice – International Criminal Court, also provide a political and legal framework for global regulation efforts.But existing mechanisms are being increasingly called into question over their effectiveness and levels of legitimacy, in particular by those not represented in decision-making. This in turn challenges the position and role of the European Union and its aspirations to be both a norm-setter and a broad security provider.

Union Institute for Security Studies

Creative connections

Creating Our Security Systems
Creating Our Government Systems
Creating Our Legal Systems