The Policy Innovations Mission
By Evan O'Neil | Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs | September 2, 2011
Peace + Sustainability + Innovation = Global Social Justice
Globalization is a paradox, says economist Dani Rodrik. It's over, and yet it's here to stay. Relentless pursuit of globalization has produced irresolvable tensions between democracy, the nation-state, and economic health—one leg always weakens, causing the stool to collapse.
The fury over the WTO may have subsided, but the deep ethical problems that animated its criticism still persist. Are the rules fair, in letter and in application? Can the global economy learn to function without damaging the natural environment? How should we alleviate poverty and inequality? How do we generate fair and meaningful employment throughout rich and poor countries alike?
Forward-thinking innovators around the world are developing local solutions to these major problems of our age, and Policy Innovations tells their stories. Our work looks at trends in ethical global development through the following themes:
On an increasingly crowded planet, the skills of diplomacy become more valuable than the skills of war. While the major ideological divides of the 20th century fade behind us, the material needs of the 21st century loom large. Will nations beggar their neighbors in a mad scramble for diminishing resources, or can we learn to manage the global commons and avoid conflict?
How do we design our societies for ecological and economic resilience? True sustainability means setting a date for your jurisdiction or organization to emit zero carbon, and charting a path to get there. True sustainability fuses the deep green ethos of conserving wild places and biodiversity with a thirst for the bright green innovations and renewable energies of tomorrow.
Innovation is its own ethic. Any system that promotes a status quo in the face of changing data is destined for disruption. Technological advances, organizational choices, and political experimentation are all explored here.
The world's cities will house billions more people by midcentury. Dense, efficient urbanism is often trumpeted as the solution to sustainability, yet millions of people move up the scale of consumption when they migrate from the countryside. Slums are viewed alternately as festering scourges and crucibles of innovation—regardless, the residents there deserve rights and public services.
Planning has its limits, yet without it cities will stagnate. A new generation of urbanists is working to build cities that are creative, healthy, ecological, and open—where developing country migrants can tap the urban advantage.
We have seen promising experiments at all levels with new techniques of transparency, open public data, and digital communication. Topics as broad as transportation planning, disaster management, and budgetary accountability can all benefit from the sunshine and ideas that an informed and participatory public brings to bear. This Gov 2.0 movement is itself a policy innovation, as citizens equipped with technology reprogram their governments for greater justice and efficiency.
Ethical immigration policies can provide an antidote to the spread of anti-immigrant intolerance. Labor has a mobility disadvantage relative to capital, and people flock where they can secure the best jobs. Balancing these flows is the crux of ensuring fair globalization.
Women's health, education, and rights are often seen as the best investments when it comes to international development. Yet even in developed economies gender imbalances persist. Compounding this problem is the global trend of infant sex selection in favor of males, and the sex trafficking industry.
How should businesses be accountable for human rights wherever they operate? How can they ensure that their operations are beneficial and sustainable? An emerging set of tools and best practices is helping companies examine and implement their social responsibilities.
Policy Innovations serves as a global commons for the stories of how people are working toward a global ethic in all these areas. Good ideas are from anywhere, and should travel everywhere.
—Evan O'Neil, Editor