Trust and Accountability: Bringing Values to the Future
Second Event of the 27th Annual Conference
of the International Environment Forum
Implementing Solidarity – Global to Local
18 September 2023
The Summit of the Future will only succeed if the countries and peoples of the world trust that its decisions will effectively lead the necessary transition to a more just and sustainable future. Reformed global governance with a renewed United Nations could enable true solidarity in the face of the impacts of increasing economic, environmental, social and security crises, and establish mechanisms for accountability for all relevant actors including the UN itself. The foundation should be an agreement on the values underlying global well-being and solidarity: justice, equity, trustworthiness, cooperation, reciprocity, with development that includes everyone, enabling the fulfilment by every person on the planet of their higher human purpose.
View a video recording of the event here.
TOPICS AND PANELISTS:
Vision and Values: Laying a Foundation for a Functioning International System
Presented by Daniel Perell, Representative to the UN for the Baha'i International Community
We can all agree that global governance is not at the apex of its evolution - there will, of necessity, be further iteration. But what are we evolving towards? Without a vision of, at the very least, the principles which must underlie a functioning international order, it is difficult to imagine how we would get there. This talk aims to outline some of the characteristics necessary for a functioning international system - solidarity beyond borders, selfless service, consideration of future generations. With these in mind, certain assumptions of what exists today can be questioned and, more importantly, new approaches can be devised which will allow a trustworthy and effective global governance structure to emerge. The 2024 Summit of the Future represents a rare moment to explore these themes with ever wider audiences.
Truthfulness and Trustworthiness as foundations for trust and accountability in global governance
Presented by Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, Associate Professor with the Public Administration and Policy Group of Wageningen University, the Netherlands
Truthfulness and trustworthiness are two of the values that need to form the foundation for an international system that can effectively address the challenges of humanity. Sylvia reflected on why these values are so important linked to their role for building trust and accountability. Trust and accountability are both hailed as desirable features of governance at all levels, including the global level. Multilateral collaboration, however, is currently plagued by distrust, and the lack of accountability of particularly the most powerful actors in global governance is glaring. At the same time, the building of accountable institutions at all levels is one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. Thus a Summit of the Future needs to reflect on strategies to strengthen trust, accountability and the values they build on.
Summary of panel discussion on
Trust and Accountability: Bringing Values into our future
By Cedric Åkermark, Sweden
The panel discussion between Daniel Perell, Representative to the UN for the Baha'i International Community and Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, Associate Professor with the Public Administration and Policy Group of Wageningen University, was focused on the prerequisites and foundations needed for The Summit of the Future, and global governance in general, to succeed. The panel discussion was moderated by David Menham, Bradford University School of Peace Studies.
Daniel Perell began the discussion by introducing a key challenge in global governance – a lack of trust. He gave an example of how everyone attending the panel discussion had to trust multiple things, such as technology working and everyone showing up on time. While this type of trust is natural in the setting of our daily lives, Daniel highlighted how on a global level there is a growing mistrust between nations and between leaders and those governed, especially among the younger generation. The challenge is how to rebuild trust by ensuring that every promise made is a promise kept. Just as we hold people in our personal lives accountable for their actions, accountability needs to exist on a global level.
Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen presented a quote by 'Abdu'l-Bahá: “Today no state in the world is in a condition of peace or tranquility, for security and trust have vanished from among the people…”. She shared that the current global goal setting dynamic occurs with states setting very ambitious collective goals, but then not contributing toward meeting them. Evaluation of the results tends to be only superficial and are soon forgotten after which even more ambitious goals are set. Sylvia highlighted two values that are lacking in global governance today: truthfulness and trustworthiness.
In the ensuing discussion, Daniel and Sylvia proposed possible solutions to these challenges. We need to build closer relationships with each other, even on the international stage. If we see humanity as one family, we realize that the same qualities of trust, truthfulness and accountability which we expect in our own family are also needed on the international level. Although it is a long and difficult process, the culture of competition and mistrust can be changed, for example, by setting the ground rules for consultation before starting any meetings.