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Alternative futures of global governance: scenarios and perspectives from the Global South

Shermon O. Cruz (Philippine Center for Foresight Education and Innovation Research, Northwestern University, Laoag City, Philippines)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 13 April 2015




The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical and informative exploration of the emerging roles and rising influence of the Global South in shaping the future of global governance. Specifically, it inquires into the following questions: How is the Global South impacting the way we govern globally? What are the pushers, pulls and weights to the futures of global governance? Using Jim Dator’s alternative futures archetype, what is the future of global governance? What are the emerging issues and trends?


It uses Sohail Inayatullah’s futures triangle to map the drivers – the pushes, pulls and weights of global governance and Jim Dator’s archetypes – continued economic growth, collapse, conserver and transformation – to imagine and construct alternative futures of global governance.


The futures triangle analysis maps and reveals three diverse but causally linked Global South narratives of global governance. The pulls of the future include the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa leading the way, and emerging economies reinforcing the pluralization of global governance discourses and systems. New governance regimes create new global governance dynamics and North – South relations. Their increasing social, political and economic clout leads to new governance structures. The Global South’s rising human development index, economic growth, decreasing financial reliance, the rise of minilateralism and South – South cooperation is a push of the present. Weights are recurring financial constraints, their lack of technical capacity, existing international laws, stagnating bureaucracy, poverty, domestic issues and state centrism (among others). Four alternative global governance scenarios emerge: a harmonious world is everybody’s business – a state-centric and economic growth global governance future. Here, the dynamics of global governance remain the same as zero-sum thinking informs the rules of the game. In dangerous transitions and the rise of the rest, however, the status quo is disrupted as power shifts rapidly and detrimentally. Then, in mosaic of the old structure, the South embraces protectionism, and the old vanguards return. Finally, in all boats rise substantially, power is redistributed as emerging states gain larger, formal (and informal) leadership roles in global governance. The global world order is re-designed for the Global South. A world parliament is created and stronger regional confederation or unions emerge.

Research limitations/implications

This paper extensively utilizes existing and emerging literature, official reports, blogs, interviews, books and other digital texts on global governance. The sources relevance is analyzed using the futures triangle tool and dissected to present four detailed scenarios using Dator’s alternative futures archetype. This study seeks to initially explore alternative futures of global governance from the perspective of the Global South. While some studies have approached the topic, only a few authors have addressed global governance using futures tools and methods. The goal of this research is to map and explore some alternative futures of global governance. The paper is less useful in predicting what lies ahead. Its intention is to highlight the “rise of the different” and to create a space for more meaningful conversations on global governance.

Practical implications

This research could provide futurists, policy-makers, international relations scholars and global governance advocates some alternative narratives, frameworks and images of global governance. While it does not offer any specific structures and solutions, it offers a number of emerging issues and perspectives from the Global South that decision-makers and institutions might want to consider as they rethink global governance.

Social implications

This paper highlights the emerging roles and perspectives of the Global South in global governance. It identifies some “trading zones” and “emerging issues” that may inspire actors to create new global governance spaces, innovate alternative narratives and design new frameworks of global governance.


It maps and constructs some plausible scenarios of global governance that emphasize Global South perspectives while using futures tools and methods.



Cruz, S.O. (2015), "Alternative futures of global governance: scenarios and perspectives from the Global South", Foresight, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 125-142.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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