Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century

Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century

Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century

Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century


Edited by the United Nations Development Programme, this collection of papers offers a new rationale and framework for international development cooperation. Its main argument is that in actual practice development cooperation has already moved beyond aid. In the name of aid (i.e. assistance to poor countries), we are today dealing with issues such as the ozone hole, global climate change, HIV, drug trafficking and financial volatility. All of these issues are not really poverty-related. Rather, they concern global housekeeping: ensuring an adequate provision of global public goods.


I am very pleased to write the prologue to this important volume. I consider this an important book for three reasons.

First, I believe that the book breaks new ground by extrapolating the concept of "public goods" from the national level to the global level. The book makes a convincing argument that the two tests of a public good, non- rivalry and nonexcludability, can be applied at the global level to such things as environment, health, culture and peace. In particular, I am persuaded that financial stability, the Internet and knowledge can be considered as global public goods.

Second, I agree with the book's thesis that we live in an increasingly integrated and interlinked world. In this new world, the sovereignty of the state is changing owing to two opposing developments. On the one hand, states are forced to cooperate in order to solve their problems. This applies to the environment, health, peace, knowledge and, as we have witnessed recently, financial stability. On the other hand, the trend is towards subsidiarity or the principle of devolving the power of decision-making to the lowest possible level.

Third, I think the book makes a persuasive argument for the need to rethink the nature of international assistance. It is no longer enough to target international assistance at recipient countries or at specific sectors. The reason is that some global public goods cut across several sectors. How do we finance global public goods? Are existing institutions adequate? If not, how should they be reformed? Do we need new institutions? How do we incorporate into our institutions the ethos of tripartism: government, business and civil society?

This book seeks to answer these and many other important policy questions. It provides us with a new intellectual framework with which to think about international assistance. It also offers a powerful new argument for . . .

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