Sustainability, Resilience and Public-Private

Partnerships from a Global Governance Perspective


14 March 2014 | by Georgios Kostakosi 

One hears a lot about sustainable development or sustainability, to such an extent that these terms increasingly feel inflated or devoid of meaning. The concepts behind them, though, do matter and should not be abandoned because of abuse or over-use. Sustainable development has a glorious past, dating back to the Brundtland Report of 1987 and the UN Conference on Environment and Development, also known as Earth Summit, of1992. It was most recently reaffirmed at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20, held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro.

Motivated by the need to instill environmental protection into economic development, so as to avoid a depletion or degradation of natural assets to an extent that would endanger the development prospects and well-being of future generations, sustainable development came to be seen as a system with three interconnected dimensions: the environment, economy and society. None of these can exist without the other and the whole malfunctions when one or the other dimension is not in line. Unfortunately, this inclusive concept has been in practice promoted primarily by environmental experts and foreign ministry officials who work on relevant negotiated texts at the UN. Thus one witnesses attempts to dictate policies for the economy and society without engaging the corresponding constituencies and experts, who reside in national ministries other than the Environment ministry (Economy, Development, Agriculture, Labour, Health, etc.) and international organizations other than the central UN or the UN Environment Programme (like the IFIs, FAO, ILO, WHO, etc.).

Revisiting non-state actor representation

at the UN


14 October 2013 | by Georgios Kostakosi 

The United Nations (UN) is the global intergovernmental organization par excellence. It was established in 1945 by the victors of World War II, which still have special prerogatives in its Security Council. Initially an organization of 51 member states, it now has a membership of 193, following the successive waves of decolonization, civil wars and the collapse of the communist bloc. Over time, though, it has become evident that states and their governments are not the sole or even the most important actors internationally. Multinational corporations have risen to prominence with budgets larger than the GDP of many states, financial transactions across borders have intensified beyond any national control, while civil society organizations and on-line movements mobilize more people than many politicians can. To remain relevant and effective the UN has had to incorporate these new, non-state actors in some way in its activities, if not its decision-making processes.

Efforts to that end intensified in recent decades, including such initiatives as the UN Global Compact (UNGC) launched by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in July 2000. UNGC has now grown to include more than ten thousand companies from over 130 countries in its membership. It holds regular high-level meetings bringing together top company CEOs with heads of state and other senior officials from governments around the world, and takes initiatives to advance sustainable behaviours among its members.

Politics & Governance


This part aims to reflect on concrete steps of redesigning governance at global, regional, national and local level to ensure an effective response to the challenges facing humanity today.

In an era of global interdependence and abundant communications the citizens are lacking clarity and transparency on what and who really matters, lost in a maize of old and new institutions, state and non-actors and processes that are not inclusive of ordinary citizens. One wonders whether anybody fully comprehends how the global governance system works, other than occasionally using its various elements for short-term gains.

The avoidance of another world war over the past seventy-odd years does not mean the predominance of peace or justice in our world. On the contrary, our era has witnessed numerous instances of civil strife, genocide and external intervention that have cost the lives of millions. In a large part of the world building effective states still looks like a distant dream.

Under this theme, we intend to publish briefings and analyses on the core issues of sustainability governance, peace and security, human rights, democracy and the rule of law.