Modernizing Multilateralism

While today’s crises reflect the lightning speed of an interconnected world, globalization also offers great opportunities to overcome poverty, increase opportunity, and create open societies. But only with a new multilateralism can we expand the availability of these opportunities to all.

WASHINGTON, DC – 2008 will be remembered as a year of extraordinary turmoil. The financial crisis came on the heels of food and fuel crises. Now the world is in the midst of an economic crisis, which will lead to many job losses. Virtually no country has escaped. We are moving into a new danger zone, with heightened risks to exports and investment, to credit, banking systems, budgets, and balances of payments. In 2009, we may see the first decline in global trade since 1982.

As always, the poor are the most defenseless. For developing countries, tighter credit conditions and much weaker growth mean that governments are less able to meet education and health goals, and to invest in the infrastructure needed to sustain growth. Remittances are drying up. Already 100 million people have been driven into poverty as a result of high food and fuel prices, and current estimates suggest that every 1% decline in developing-country growth rates pushes an additional 20 million people into poverty.

Countries are trying to break the credit freeze, bolster financial institutions, ease interest rates, strengthen safety nets, and revive consumption and investment in order to boost business, enable people to work, and lay the foundation for future growth. These steps will be most effective if countries act in concert, in a mutually supportive way. Economic nationalism that seeks gains from the disadvantage of others will trigger ever more dangers. Global challenges require global solutions.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in;
  1. China corruption Isaac Lawrence/Getty Images

    The Next Battle in China’s War on Corruption

    • Chinese President Xi Jinping knows well the threat that corruption poses to the authority of the Communist Party of China and the state it controls. 
    • But moving beyond Xi's anti-corruption purge to build robust and lasting anti-graft institutions will not be easy, owing to enduring opportunities for bureaucratic capture.
  2. Italy unemployed demonstration SalvatoreEsposito/Barcroftimages / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

    Putting Europe’s Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work

    Across the European Union, millions of people who are willing and able to work have been unemployed for a year or longer, at great cost to social cohesion and political stability. If the EU is serious about stopping the rise of populism, it will need to do more to ensure that labor markets are working for everyone.

  3. Latin America market Federico Parra/Getty Images

    A Belt and Road for the Americas?

    In a time of global uncertainty, a vision of “made in the Americas” prosperity provides a unifying agenda for the continent. If implemented, the US could reassert its historical leadership among a group of countries that share its fundamental values, as well as an interest in inclusive economic growth and rising living standards.

  4. Startup office Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    How Best to Promote Research and Development

    Clearly, there is something appealing about a start-up-based innovation strategy: it feels democratic, accessible, and so California. But it is definitely not the only way to boost research and development, or even the main way, and it is certainly not the way most major innovations in the US came about during the twentieth century.

  5. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.