Global Public Goods and Governance for Addressing Sustainability

  • Inge Kaul


Underprovision of global public goods (GPGs) such as climate change, mitigation, financial stability, global health or cyber security, today threatens development in the North and in the South and, thereby, also global—economic, social and environmental—sustainability. This chapter shows that myriad corrective actions by state and nonstate actors are underway. However, the sum of those actions often does not add up to what is required to resolve global challenges. Provision gaps arise, persist and exacerbate, even in policy fields in which existential risks exist. While many factors come into play, including psychological, behavioral, organizational and macro-economic and geopolitical ones, an important one, which, moreover, could be corrected directly, is the current lack of a systematic theory and practice of global public policy. The chapter suggests an agenda for future research and debate aimed at constructing the building blocks of a new branch of public policy that offers well-founded advice on how to combine individual state and nonstate actor interests, including national sovereignty concerns, while meeting the adequate provision requirements of global public goods. New thinking along the lines could offer analytical lenses through which to look at current policymaking realities, better understand the impediments and facilitators of GPG provision and, perhaps, spark willingness among policymakers to choose new policy paths—realizing that those actually lead to enhanced interdependence management, development and global sustainability. By implication, a major responsibility for fostering governance for global sustainability rests with social-science scholars.


Global public goods Financing international cooperation Policy innovation Sovereignty Global sustainability 



The author thanks Ariane Götz, Machiko Nissanke and José Antonio Ocampo for their comments on an earlier version of this chapter and Kay Schröder for the design of the three figures.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Inge Kaul
    • 1
  1. 1.Hertie School of GovernanceBerlinGermany

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