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Monday, July 13, 2009

Global Problem Solving

John W. McArthur writes:

Our global coping mechanisms are on a brink. The World Food Program is slashing emergency humanitarian programs amidst a reported $5 billion budget gap. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria faces its own multi-billion dollar gap that will prevent live-saving services from reaching millions of people. The H1N1 virus has officially reached global pandemic proportions, with uncertain implications. Meanwhile climate change proceeds at a quietly relentless pace, straining ecosystems and social systems across the planet.

How to manage the complexity? In the United States, the Obama Administration has been criticized for setting too many priorities at once. Yet the critique of an overcrowded plate overlooks the fundamental challenge of modern public leadership. Today there is no choice but to tackle a multidimensional global agenda. Which among macroeconomic coordination, food production, energy, climate change, or disease control could be considered optional at this stage?

The reality is that problem-solving must now be both multilateral and multisectoral. Even in the United States, the world's richest country by many measures, long term prosperity hinges on concerted progress across health care, education, energy and infrastructure. Foreign policy success will hinge on programs to address global health, agriculture, and climate change. It is far from trivial that budget director Peter Orszag has stressed health care performance as the single biggest priority for America's long term fiscal wellbeing. Nor are the climate-linked agricultural and economic warnings of Energy Secretary Steven Chu to be taken lightly.

link: John W. McArthur: A New Approach to Global Problem-Solving


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