June 13th, 2010

[FORUM] Do you think the Toronto G-20 summit might be the beginning of better global governance?

I don't think I know a single Torontonian who's looking forward to the Toronto summit of the G-20 at the end of this month, since between the massive protests and the intrusive (if understandable) heavy security it’s pretty much common knowledge that the city will become unlivable. I don’t think I’ve heard a single Torontonian complain about the idea of the city hosting summits per se; it’s just that this one is much too important, or at least much too symbolic, to avoid wrecking Toronto.

Why does everyone, from government PR people to anti-globalization activists, think Toronto to be so important? I think it’s because it’s commonly, if not necessarily, recognized that this G-20 summit meeting is going to inaugurate a new system of global governance. Note that I’m not talking about a world government, in the sense of an entity possessing sovereignty and authority over its component subordinate units. Rather, I’m talking about global governance, something that’s as much a process as a goal, the construction and maintenance of more “horizontal” relationships between equals or near-equals, states and supranational organizations of various scopes and NGOs cooperating together to share information and coordinate actions in the goal of helping to manage the planet. The G-20 doesn’t include everyone, no, but it does include--as its name indicates--arguably the twenty wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world, drawn fairly representatively from the different regions of the world. If you can get these countries to coordinate their actions at the highest levels, the rest of the world won’t have much choice but to follow. Toronto 2010 might be a good time and place to start this tradition.

What think you?