“Coordination Failure”


Today I have attended an inspiring lecture that was given by an experienced man who has worked for SIDA, the UNDP, and the IMF. I am very honored to have been able to attend some of his lectures and today’s particularly sparked my brain. Although he didn’t explicitly use the term coordination failure, I have been reading a bit about that concept insofar as aid givers and I thought that it applied to this discussion quite nicely.

There are some things we are aware of. -let’s disregard epistemological problems with my statements for a moment-

  1. We know that human actions affect the environment (people disagree over whether these actions are a negative thing, and to what extent the environment is affected, but logically, we know that we can plant a tree and it will grow, and we can put a chemical into a lake and kill the fish).
  2. We know that diseases cross borders (also that diseases are becoming less and less resistant to antibiotics).
  3. I think we can also agree on some human rights abuses are not culturally relative (for instance it would be difficult to find a person who advocates genocide that isn’t mentally deranged or power-corrupt).
  4. There is another problem that is still considered just a theory: “peak oil,” meaning that the world’s current lifestyle is not sustainable given our availability of the natural resources required to maintain it.

There is a great consensus that these points are true, in a general sense. These are all global problems that cannot be solved by one nation. If Sweden decides to enforce very strict environmental policies, it will do nearly nothing compared to the amount of environment in the rest of the world. Surely there are also disease-carrying animals crossing the very closed borders between North and South Korea. What will it take for everyone to work together for the benefit of the world? We have tried to set up global governance such as the United Nations, but the problem is that they have no real authority, and the superpowers are too busy fighting over political power to actually accomplish things. And let’s not forget what happened when the UN failed to act in Rwanda twenty years ago.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the superpower-politics and East-West divide is preventing the world from transcending. We claim to have democracies yet the huge common problems we face as humans on Earth are washed over by short-term economic crises and questions about reproductive rights that politicians constantly distract us with. How can the United States be an informed society when they have two almost identical political parties claiming all the media attention by talking about stupid things and creating problems instead of looking at the existential problems we face. And that this government is one of the five permanent Security Council members making decisions for the whole world. How is it possible for us to have a one-world viewpoint when the people teaching us how to behave are driven by economic profits that exploit faceless people?

There is something seriously wrong with the powers of the world today, and I am not trying to offer any solutions. I don’t know it all, just like everyone else who doesn’t know it all. But I think if more people start to ask these questions, the world will begin to change. How can we get more people to ask questions?  We are already seeing revolutions happening, and I am so excited to see where it will lead. I feel so lucky to live in a lifetime of extreme world change, which I think is happening. I know I don’t have much experience in the world, I am still young and have only traveled to a few places, but if we look at history, the past few hundred years have been a constant rollercoaster, and I don’t expect these next hundred years to be any different.


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