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Environment of Schloss Elmau, June 2015

‘What a Beautiful World this Will Be’: Notes for G7 Watchers

10.06.2015 Like its predecessors, the latest G7 summit, held in the almost impossibly scenic resort of Elmau in southern Germany, was not without its controversies. Amongst them, here in Germany, was the question of the spirit in which leaders should approach the challenges of global cooperation—and, needless to say, of which leaders should be involved. In other words: how global was this global summit?

No doubt we need summits. As Centre Co-directors Dirk Messner and Claus Leggewie put it in their comments on the protest camp in Elmau: ‘A little world governance is unavoidable’ (‘Ein Lob dem G-7-Gipfel!’, DIE ZEIT, 6 June 2015). Personal contact between world leaders, they argue, is important, and we need to find ways to strengthen governance in the face of pressing problems and the ‘primacy of economics’. As a counterbalancing complement to this ‘word of praise’ for the summit, Dirk Messner has elsewhere—in a series of interviews and articles—outlined the deficiencies of the G7 format as it presently exists. And two flagship publications of current peace and conflict research have contributed their own critique of the Group of 7 (of which more in a later news item, specifically in relation to Ukraine).

We at the Centre have our own arguments to contribute to the debate. These are a product of the daily exchange between our cosmopolitan cohort of fellows and the multidisciplinary offerings they bring to the table. The Centre has become a hub of ongoing research into what helps—and what hinders—consensus on global issues and the realization of long-term sustainability as part of global housekeeping.

The G7’s end-of-century de-carbonization ‘commitment’ has been surprisingly well received by environmental groups. Exploration of the options for global cooperation on climate change has been underway for quite some time at the Centre (see G. Grimalda and J. Schmidt in Böckenförde 2014, references below) and is a regular topic at its expert workshops. Work in this area by Scott Barrett indicates that the development of technological standards may be more effective than declarations on greenhouse gas emissions in translating global-governance aspirations into solutions on the ground— Scott Barrett of Columbia University will deliver the Centre’s 12th Käte Hamburger Lecture  on 1 July 2015 in Duisburg.

De-carbonization is a vision, but when it comes to the solutions which political agreement and global governance design in order to realize such visions, the Summit’s final declaration conveys a sense of non-exclusivity and an indication of new ways in which the roles of state and non-state actors might be framed. The legal challenges which this raises are alluded to in the final declaration’s sections on Energy, Resource Efficiency, and the Protection of the Marine Environment. This is a much-debated issue at the Centre, as evidenced in a number of publications on the topic (Schwelling/Gal-Or 2015, Gal-Or in Böckenförde 2014).

A Masterclass organized by the Centre in 2014 addressed the possibility of an alternative, ‘gift-giving’ culture, as posited by the French ethno-sociologist Marcel Mauss. Is there any glimmer of ‘gift-giving’ in the G7’s final declaration? On climate change, the document reaffirms the members’ ‘strong commitment to the Copenhagen Accord to mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion a year by 2020 from a wide variety of sources, both public and private in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation’. This is an undertaking that our research unit on ‘Cultural Conflicts and Transcultural Cooperation’ may well decide to explore and assess.

The final declaration leaves us with a familiar conundrum: its global spirit and scope is belied by the (as ever) non-global composition of its drafting body. If the summit were a normal club, issues of inclusion and adaptability would arise. And after all, the commitments in the final declaration can only be met, by and large, in cooperation with partners and players not present at the negotiating table. Strategies and prerequisites of such negotiations are another area subject to extensive research at the Centre (see Weinlich 2014, Ahlert in Böckenförde 2014, Messner 2013; also the report on the workshop ‘Transcultural Constructions of Local Legitimacy’, Brigg 2014, and Rousselin/Smith 2015).

What to conclude? Perhaps that coming to a better awareness of one’s own role, and being prepared to adjust it where necessary, is one of the less widely trumpeted challenges facing global cooperation.


References mentioned
Centre publications are linked to landing pages on this site opening in a new window. You may download/read the pdf from there.

Claus Leggewie und Dirk Messner
Ein Lob dem G-7-Gipfel! Was soll der Protest gegen Elmau? Etwas Weltregierung muss schon sein.
DIE ZEIT, 6 June 2015  (German)

Marlies Ahlert
International Cooperation in Negotiations - A Critical View on Applications of Economic Theory, in: Böckenförde (ed.) 2014, Global Dialogues 4.

Scott Barrett 2013
Climate Treaties and Approaching Catastrophes, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 66 (2), 235–50.

12th Käte Hamburger Lecture
Scott Barrett (Columbia University)
Good faith cooperation? Why global cooperation sometimes succeeds (and mostly not)
1 July 2015, 18:00—20:00
Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg

Markus Böckenförde (ed.) 2014
A Multi-disciplinary Mosaic: Reflections on International Security and Global Cooperation.
Global Dialogues 4, Duisburg.

Morgan Brigg 2014
Culture, 'Relationality', and Global Cooperation.
Global Cooperation Research Papers 6, Duisburg.

Noemi Gal-Or and Birgit Schwelling (eds.) 2015
Global Cooperation in Transitional Justice: Challenges, Possibilities, and Limits.
Global Dialogues 6, Duisburg.

Gifts of Cooperation: Masterclass 2014
Essen – 22-26 September 2014
Event Page with programme, report, visual documentation

Gianluca Grimalda
Can Global Cooperation Avert the Threat of Climate Change?, in: Böckenförde (ed.) 2014, Global Dialogues 4.

Dirk Messner, Alejandro Guarín, and Daniel Haun
The Behavioural Dimensions of International Cooperation.
Global Cooperation Research Papers 1, Duisburg 2013

Mathieu Rousselin and Christopher Smith (eds.) 2015
The Tunisian Constitutional Process: Main Actors and Key Issues.
Global Dialogues 7, Duisburg 2015

Jessica Schmidt
Climate Change and Global Cooperation: The Ethic of Self-Abolition, in: Böckenförde (ed.) 2014, Global Dialogues 4.

Transcultural Constructions of Global Legitimacy
Workshop, 13-15 November 2013, Duisburg
Interviews with participants: KHK/GCR21 youtube channel
Publication: Jan Aart Scholte (ed.) 2015. Global Cooperation through Cultural Diversity. Remaking Democracy? (Global Dialogues 8). Duisburg (publcation date: June 2015)

Silke Weinlich 2014
The UN Secretariat's Influence on the Evolution of Peacekeeping.
New York (Palgrave Macmillan)

Leaders' Declaration G7 Summit
Please consider the environment of Schloss Elmau before printing out the Leader's Declaration.

Martin Wolf
Head of Public Relations
Tel: +49 (0)203 379 5238