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Is COP21 the acid test for future global governance?


The future of our children and grand children around the world will be decided at the Climate Conference in Paris during COP21.

Intense negotiations are happening and some – on face value – groundbreaking commitments are being made by countries such as China and Saudi Arabia. Yet, many voices worry that COP21 will fall short of the decisions that are really needed.

In the absence of an effective and transparent global governance system, many initiatives coming from religious leaders, NGOs and private sector companies have emerged.

In September 2015,  Archbishop Desmond Tutu launched a petition to respond urgently to climate change by setting a renewable energy target of 100% by 2050. This petition has already gathered over 300,000 signatures.

At the beginning of October 2015, 40 million young Scouts worldwide received a “Youth Leadership for the Environment Award” from Mikhail GorbatchevFounder of Green Cross International, and from Corinne Lepage, Advisor to French President François Hollande on the Rights of Humanity. The Award paid tribute to the Scouts recent responses to environmental and humanitarian emergencies in countries such as Kenya, Ecuador, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, Nepal, Canada, Madagascar, Malaysia, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Haiti.

Meanwhile, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development issued a “CEO guide to climate change”, hoping to finally convince senior leaders in corporations of the economic case of addressing climate change.

What do these initiatives tell us ? They clearly mean that if the traditional country-led gobal governance system is broken or not working, then there will be more cooperation between NGOs, countries and the private sector, which may be a good thing in terms of efficient and sustainable solutions !

The refugee crisis speaks to this. As European leaders continue to struggle to collectively manage this humanitarian drama, practical solutions are being developed through partnerships. Recently, instead of housing refugees in army tents, one Swiss canton has decided to experiment with flat-pack IKEA houses. They cost around CHF 1,000, can be put up in four hours and shelter five people.

So if climate change is “one of the greatest moral challenges of our time” as described by Archbishop Tutu, and if governments cannot work together to find solutions, then citizens, countries, NGOs and companies will take over to manage the situation.

Fatima John-Sandoz

Head of Geneva Team, based in Geneva

Fatima joined Leidar in 2019 and heads up the Geneva team. In her role, she helps a range of companies and organizations respond to global challenges.

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