The future of politics and institutions in times of social distancing

COVID-19 is testing the responsiveness of national governments and the harnesses of a global system that is beginning to crack. It not only raises questions about how the world should organize and its leaders or institutions adapt to respond to this crisis. It also creates new challenges on the way globalization is perceived and the future of international cooperation.

What we are doing

Future of Politics is an initiative led by CIPPEC that began in 2018 during the Argentine presidency of the T20 (a G20 engagement group) and aims to promote a conversation on the institutional, social and political transformations that are taking place in different regions, both at a national and supranational level. It seeks to design a conceptual map to discuss the challenges our world is facing and generate the necessary institutional frameworks to build more inclusive and participatory societies.

From its inception we have worked alongside the world’s leading research centers and organized four regional workshops with policymakers, specialists, academics and representatives of the private sector. As a result, we designed prospective-thinking scenarios on the future of domestic politics and global governance as a framework to guide the conversation. We also looked at how technological breakthroughs are impacting our societies, the way we communicate with each other and do politics, and we made recommendations on the best policy options to govern Artificial Intelligence.

In our conversations with international experts during these years of work, the idea that prevailed was that national states were becoming less relevant in dealing with global affairs and that other political actors were taking on a greater space. There were two options for the future of governance: a new decentralized and local model, coordinated through facilitating actions by organizations such as the UN, or a more macro paradigm in which these actors actively participate in global structures. However, this new world crisis is challenging the current cannons by manifesting that states continue to be the main actors in contemporary global politics. It also indicates that broader efforts are necessary and that we have rules and institutions that allow governments to cooperate when they are interested in doing so.

The rediscovery of nation states does not take aback the relevance of global governance, especially when cross-border efforts are so necessary, but it does highlight that international cooperation is often fragile and isolationism is on the rise. More and more people are willing to change openness for autonomy. What effect, then, will the pandemic have on our institutions? Will it reinforce pre-existing trends, stop them, or change their course? How will new technologies impact the way out of the crisis? And isolationist policies? Will they be the exception or the new rule of international politics?

These are only some of the questions we are trying to answer in 2020. The story hasn’t finished yet and we want to invite you to participate. How do you imagine the future of politics will be? We hope that this situation calls us to rethink globalization rather than end it.

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