What makes it difficult to solve global problems

International cooperationSolving global challenges globally

Chancellor Angela Merkel: "It is up to us together to limit global warming to two degrees. It is up to us to completely overcome extreme poverty. Global challenges can only be solved globally." US President Barack Obama: "They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and most of all: trust each other." Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier: "Today there can be no longer any doubt that transnational health threats call for new forms of international cooperation. If we do not act, ladies and gentlemen, the consequences will become incalculable for us in Germany as well."

In Sunday speeches, politicians like to emphasize the need for increased international cooperation. Even if President Obama's formula of allies who should listen and trust one another seems a bit ambiguous given the NSA's espionage practices. But what about the readiness for global cooperation on human issues? A quick look at the main issues is not very optimistic. A new climate agreement that is binding on everyone and that deserves its name - far and wide not in sight. Hunger and poverty in the world - problems by no means solved. And are the guns silent somewhere because the world community has forced it? Global cooperation - just a chimera or can we build on it in the future?

"Yes, we have to! What remains if you don't try to find solutions in different dynamics and processes and find content that then affects everyone?" Of course, Markus Bockenförde from the Käthe Hamburger Kolleg at the University of Duisburg-Essen also knows about the difficulties that arise. He therefore sees the main task of research in finding concrete starting points for improved cooperation. "We try to find the areas where it is a little easier and then to continue working on the other."

Skepticism about the world climate conference in Paris

Cooperation is always easier, says Bockenförde, when the problem is fairly concrete and its solution is relatively simple: "When the need for cooperation is high because the risk is immense, if there is no cooperation, then it seems to work. Simple two examples: the ozone hole, where you have actually noticed that people are getting skin cancer and that is continuing to spread. At that moment it was possible to stand on the precipice and, I am now provocative, to do something via the reflex center is the containment of the Asian bird plague. Everyone worked together to contain it. "

However, the researcher is skeptical about the world climate conference in Paris at the end of the year. "What is the challenge with climate change, a) that it is much more complex and b) that the threat scenarios are not as immediate as they are now with the ozone hole. So I can still see the photos in front of me, you saw that and there you could quickly add one and one together, when that might reach you. When it comes to climate change, all the discussions that this is not man-made and the natural fluctuations etc. shaped these debates and this pressure, which has to be acted on by reflex, was simply not there. "

Here, too, there are starting points for partial solutions, which - which are also extremely interesting - often originate from countries in the third world, or as they say today, the global south. The global mechanism for the protection of forests, which has existed since 2005, was named as examples at the Duisburg conference. An initiative that originally came from Costa Rica, the two Congos and some other Third World countries. Even more topical is an initiative launched in 2013 by Bangladesh, Ghana, Mexico, Canada and Sweden to reduce short-lived greenhouse gases such as soot and methane. Orientation towards principles such as shared responsibility and different obligations would also go in the right direction. In relation to the climate negotiations, this means that although all countries have a common responsibility for combating climate change, the obligations resulting from this (for example with regard to CO-2 savings) could be quite different. Indeed:

China at the heart of a future world order

"What is happening now, of course, and that is the example of China, that although they are the second strongest economic nation in the world, they still want to go under the label developing country. While the USA then say in the opposite that if they don't do it now, we won't They don't overtake us because we are now backing up to promote climate protection and they are allowed to continue. That means, the concept is already conceived, it is now this political power game and then the self-centeredness. "

Speaking of China. There is no question that the Middle Kingdom will play a central role in any future world order. But what could such a world order look like? Western researchers like to use the term "global governance" here. It is only inadequately translated as "world government" or "world domestic policy". What is meant is a situation in which global problems are not only tackled by governments, but also in cooperation between states and civil society, represented by non-governmental organizations, for example. A concept that, according to Professor Manjiao Chi from Xiamen University, does not at all fit into the worldview of the current Chinese leadership: "In China, government has always meant: from top to bottom. We do not know any clear distinction between the state and the forces of civil society . Hence the term 'governance' is a shock to this tradition of state centralism. "