In midst of competition cooperation is still essential

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World Economic Forum (WEF)
World Economic Forum (WEF)

The World Economic Forum today launched the Global Cooperation Barometer to measure the state of global cooperation. The barometer indicates that global cooperation was resilient in multiple dimensions from 2012 until 2020 but overall cooperation declined by 2% from 2020 to 2022.

The Global Cooperation Barometer, developed in collaboration with McKinsey & Company, uses 42 indicators to measure five pillars of global cooperation between 2012 and 2022: trade and capital; innovation and technology; climate and natural capital; health and wellness; and peace and security.

The barometer indicates that global cooperation showed signs of strength during the years measured in pillars such as trade and capital, innovation and technology, and climate and natural capital. However, it also reflects the significant challenges the world has faced in the past three years, including reversals in global health cooperation and sharp increases in violent conflict, shown through declines in the barometer’s health and wellness and peace and security pillars.

The barometer release follows a year that was the hottest on record and saw escalating levels of conflict worldwide, but that also brought progress on climate action, trade agreements and innovation.

“The greatest challenges – and the most promising opportunities – for our planet, societies and economies are not bound by borders, which means the only way to address them is through cooperation,” said Børge Brende, President, World Economic Forum. “What the barometer shows is that cooperation on many issues is possible, even in the midst of competition and confrontation. In other words, leaders can work together despite not seeing eye-to-eye on everything.”

“It’s clear that on some dimensions the world has become increasingly divided, yet the barometer shows that when you look at the full picture, global cooperation has remained surprisingly robust over the last decade,” said Bob Sternfels, Global Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company. “We’ve seen progress in collaboration across multiple areas, with special cause for optimism on climate and nature and breakthroughs in frontier technologies that draw on global contributions to innovation.”

The Global Cooperation Barometer’s accompanying report, also released today, presents a series of recommendations for business and government leaders, including identifying opportunities to deepen public-private partnerships in areas where they have critical operations and shared interests (e.g., R&D, harmonized regulation of AI and emerging technology). In addition, leaders should reimagine cooperation and practise “coopetition” (finding opportunities for cooperation despite broader competitive positions) and also use cooperation to beget cooperation, using instances of cooperation to not only advance interests in a specific area but also as an opportunity to deepen trust and explore where other alignment may exist.

Companies and countries that identify robust cooperative arrangements are more likely to be more resilient – not only able to absorb a supply disruption but also to bounce back better.

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