The UN Economists Network launched a report for the UN's 75th anniversary on ways policymakers can successfully shape five megatrends.
On digital technologies, the report suggests that the UN is well placed to facilitate agreement on principles for aligning the use of technology with ethical and human rights standards.
On reducing inequality, the authors say the UN can help governments generate support for policy responses to inequality.
A group of UN economists has released a report aiming to set the stage for the high-level event to commemorate the UN’s 75th anniversary. The authors outline a role for the UN in building domestic political consensus to respond constructively to global megatrends, highlighting that the UN “can assist in mobilizing needed global support for individual countries, particularly those with fewer resources.”
The ‘Report of the UN Economist Network for the UN 75th Anniversary: Shaping the Trends of Our Time’ was launched on 16 September 2020. The UN Economists Network is led by the UN Chief Economist.
The UN’s 75th anniversary is an opportunity to forge a global commitment to digital cooperation, with goals, principles, and priority actions.
It looks at the “outright failures in policy” that have resulted in climate change, environmental degradation, and inequalities. “Climate change and environmental degradation have no positive side, and must be reversed. Similarly, the overall impact of persistent and rising inequalities is negative,” although some people may emerge as short-term winners. Further, these megatrends cannot be fully shaped by national policy; they require all countries to act in concert, the report underscores.
The economists offer guidance for policy makers on steering three other megatrends towards positive outcomes: demographic shifts, particularly population ageing; urbanization; and the emergence of digital technologies. On digital technologies, the report suggests that the UN is well placed to facilitate agreement on principles for “managing frontier technologies” and aligning the use of technology with ethical and human rights standards. The authors note that the UN’s 75th anniversary presents an opportunity for a global commitment to digital cooperation, which could enshrine goals, principles, and priority actions.
On reducing inequality, the report asserts that support for policy responses to inequality often “runs into a wall of vested interests.” The UN can help governments overcome such political constraints, the authors offer.
According to the report, achieving the SDGs is highly unlikely without an “overhaul of the current disjointed policymaking.” Policies to influence one megatrend as well as other megatrends that interact with it “can propel more effective, mutually reinforcing changes.” The authors stress that if the right choices are made quickly, “it is not too late to shape the major trends of our time in a direction that is sustainable and delivers benefits to all.” [Publication: Report of the UN Economist Network for the UN 75th Anniversary: Shaping the Trends of Our Time] [Executive Summary]