The world is reeling from cascading threats. Climate change, pandemics, inequality, conflicts, terrorism and even the terrifying prospect of nuclear war are all on the rise. Yet exactly when international cooperation is most urgently required, collective action is found wanting. Part of the reason is that the four-century-long experiment with nation states is unraveling. And with our nation states on the ropes, 20th-century institutions like the United Nations and World Bank are paralyzed.
Countries are struggling to keep up with the pace and scale of change. They are rapidly ceding sovereignty to alternative configurations of governance, power and influence. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is hastening this shift. While nation states aren’t going to disappear overnight, power is increasingly distributed across non-state networks, including regressive ones. It is not just multinational companies and philanthropic organizations that are exerting ever greater influence, but vast conurbations of mega-cities and their peripheries as well.