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Transforming global governance: images of futures from people on the periphery

Anita Sykes-Kelleher (Faculty of Arts and Business, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Australia)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 13 April 2015




The topics of an emerging planetary civilisation and its common affairs, global problems requiring coordinated worldwide responses and contested forms of globalisation are collectively stimulating an international conversation about alternatives to the current system of global governance. The purpose of this paper is to introduce new voices to the conversation, providing unconventional perspectives of possible futures to those found in much of the scholarly literature. These perspectives are those of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), an international non-government organisation comprising nations and peoples not represented at the United Nations (UN).


Collectively the discourses and worldviews of the UNPO, feminists, social and environmental movements, Cosmopolitan Democrats, technocrats and the Commission on Global Governance reveal contesting images of global governance futures in which the UN is transformed in ways that are aligned to emerging forms of alternative globalisations. The Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) futures research method is used to construct models of each group’s preferred global governance future from elements of their discourses and deeply held ideological commitments.


Structural aspects are also considered and the author offers an analytical framework summarising the models against the layers of CLA and the history, power base, globalisation worldview and agency congruent with each model. The models are then presented as visionary scenarios generating images of future alternatives while providing an opportunity to hear what the nations unrepresented in the current system have to say.


Their image produced a more inclusive, egalitarian and holistic image of a global governance future when compared with the “business as usual” UN future. As we approach 2015 and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the UN, this conversation provides a timely prompt for the review of the UN system of global governance and an opportunity for the UN to consider how it might transform to retain relevance in a rapidly changing global environment.



The author gratefully acknowledges a writer’s grant from the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.


Sykes-Kelleher, A. (2015), "Transforming global governance: images of futures from people on the periphery", Foresight, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 112-124.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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