United Nations recently published a policy brief on the twelfth commitment of Our Common Agenda – Emergency Platform. This commitment establishes the need to improve preparedness in more areas besides global health crises (such as pandemics) and will give UN extensive powers in a new crisis situation.
The Emergency Platform would not be a standing body or entity but a set of protocols that could be activated when needed.
The Emergency Platform refers to a set of protocols that are to be activated in the event of a “complex global shock”. When activated the platform brings together leaders from member states, the United Nations, core member groups (such as the G77, G20), international financial institutions (IMF, World Bank), regional organisations (e.g. EU, ASEAN), civil society, the private sector, businesses, research institutes and other experts.
The platform is intended to fulfil the following:
- A rapid, predictable and structured international response
- Maximizing the unique convening role of the United Nations
- Catalysing political leadership through networks of willing Member States;
- Multisectoral, interdisciplinary coordination across the multilateral system
- Multi-stakeholder engagement and accountability in the global response
- Strengthened accountability for delivering against commitments and bringing coherence to the international approach
In the event of a complex shock, all parts of the multilateral system will be held accountable for implementation and act in unison. The platform will “share timely, accurate data, analysis and policy recommendations to support global advocacy and build an international political consensus on the way forward.” A team of technical experts will be working closely with the panel, with staff resources made available “immediately and automatically”.
Since the independence, territory, and political independence of member states may not be violated, according to the UN Charter, it is the responsibility of each nation to do what is required to counteract the effects of the identified crisis on that country’s citizens.
A “complex global shock” is defined as “an event with severely disruptive consequences for a significant proportion of the global population that leads to secondary impacts across multiple sectors”. Examples of crises of this kind are COVID-19 and the increased global cost of living that occurred in 2022 (cost-of-living crisis).
In the overview, United Nations lists seven possible future crises that could justify activating the platform.
- Large-scale climatic or environmental events
- Future pandemics with cascading secondary impacts
- High-impact events involving a biological agent (deliberate or accidental)
- Events leading to disruptions to global flows of goods, people or finance
- Large-scale destructive and/or disruptive activity in cyberspace or disruptions to global digital connectivity
- A major event in outer space that causes severe disruptions to one or several critical systems on Earth
- Unforeseen risks (“black swan” events)
The policy brief states that such global shocks – and the response to them – can lead to restrictions on human rights, including structural discrimination and other inequalities.
The report reviews the negative consequences that COVID-19 had for each of the global goals. Among other things, it increased poverty, led to lost jobs and “an unequal distribution of vaccines”. The report suggests that an effective and internationally coordinated response to future crises can alleviate any of these negative effects.
…the pandemic showed that national Governments and the global multilateral system were ill-equipped to deal effectively with the scale and complexity of this emergency. The result was a global response to COVID-19 that was insufficiently coordinated and not driven by international solidarity.
To be better prepared for the shocks, the United Nations will also improve its strategic foresight by establishing a “Futures Lab” and regularly publishing global risk reports. The goal is for everyone on the planet to have access to a system that warns of possible crises by the year 2027.
The issuing of global risk reports is modelled on UN partner World Economic Forum, which has published Global Risk Reports annually since 2006, and Global Challenges Foundation (partner to the UN’s High-level panel on effective multilateralism), which has issued Global Catastrophic Risks (some in collaboration with transhumanist Nick Bostrom’s Future of Humanity Institute) annually since 2016.
The close links between these organisations indicates where the expertise will be drawn from. Last year, Global Challenges Foundation board member Johan Rockström, together with Thomas Homer Dixon from the Canadian Cascade Institute, proposed the establishment of an international research program on “polycrises” to assist the UN’s Futures Lab.
We propose therefore a worldwide scientific collaboration… The consortium would connect and strengthen existing research groups through a worldwide project to elaborate a generalized Global Systems Science; and it would act as the international scientific complement to the Secretary General’s proposed UN Futures Lab, which would integrate all humanity’s “work around forecasting, megatrends and risks.”
The consortium is intended to discern causal mechanisms that can generate a polycrisis and propose actionable measures to mitigate this risk. This happens to be exactly what the Cascade Institute aims to do. As stated on their website:
Using advanced methods to map and model complex global systems, we analyze the interactions between systemic risks, anticipate future crises and opportunities, and develop high-leverage interventions in social systems that could rapidly shift humanity’s course towards fair and sustainable prosperity.
Both the physical world and humanity are viewed as a system that can be influenced and steered in a desired direction. The Cascade Institute was established shortly after the pandemic was declared in 2020 through a grant from Canada’s McConnell Foundation to identify key actions that can mitigate “climate change”.
Rockström, who is a member of Cascade’s scientific advisory board, also determines the boundaries for human activity through the Earth Commission in the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisor’s grandiose project Global Commons Alliance (while the Potsdam Institute runs its own Futures Lab).
One may assume that both Rockström and Homer-Dixon will be part of the emerging scientific priesthood that will calculate the planet’s carrying capacity, create the algorithms that analyse the data of the Futures Lab and, based on this, warn the UN about which catastrophic global risks must be addressed.
I propose that the General Assembly provide the Secretary-General and the United Nations system with a standing authority to convene and operationalize automatically an Emergency Platform in the event of a future complex global shock of sufficient scale, severity and reach. (António Guterres)
The decision to convene an Emergency Platform shall be made by the Secretary-General in consultation with the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Security Council, national authorities, regional organisations and relevant UN agencies, and other multilateral institutions with special responsibilities for the specific crisis. The platform shall not be permanent, but its mandate may be extended by the Secretary General if deemed necessary.
Everything is closely linked to the UN’s future-oriented work, which is dealt with in the simultaneously published policy brief To Think and Act for Future Generations.
Decisions on the proposals in Our Common Agenda will be made at the global UN summit “Summit of the Future” in September 2024.
In short, this creates a mechanism that risks becoming more dangerous to humanity than the crises it is supposed to handle. Especially considering that our individual carbon footprints are considered so unsustainable that, according to Club of Rome, Potsdam Institute, and Global Commons Alliance, it warrants a Planetary Emergency. Even UN Secretary-General António Guterres has adopted this rhetoric.
It bears reminding of the “Fortress World” scenario from the Global Scenario Group’s report The Great Transition: The Promises and Lures of our Times:
Using a revamped United Nations as their platform, a state of planetary emergency is declared. A campaign of overwhelming force, rough justice and draconian police measures sweeps through hot spots of conflict and discontent.
**By Jacob Nordangard