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New Partnerships with Emerging Economies

by Sebastian Barnet Fuchs, Maria Döll
From Traditional Development Cooperation to the protection of Global Public Goods – Expert conference from the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the German Development Institute in Cadenabbia from November 8th to 11th 2013.

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The rising of new powers such as China, India, Mexico and South Africa is changing the very nature of international relations. These actors have emerged from traditional recipient countries of development assistance to economic and political heavyweights that are decisive for the protection of global public goods. How could a new partnership with these countries look like? At a three day expert conference in Cadenabbia, this question was discussed by politicians and experts from Germany, France, UK and the US as well as from Mexico, India, China and South Africa.

Borders between countries become increasingly irrelevant when it comes to global public goods: Climate protection, peace and security, health, financial stability, knowledge and information sharing. No matter who provides these goods: many states benefit from their existence. On the other hand, a lack of these goods has consequences for many countries, across borders and regions. They cannot be seen separately as they are highly interdependent.

Globalization furthermore increases the dependence of people from goods that come from outside their own country. Through this denser network, political and economic turmoil spreads easily across borders and leads to spillover effects.

Therefore, the challenges for international cooperation are widening: Foreign, Economic, Environment, Security, and Development Policies all play a crucial role for the protection of global public goods. Because emerging economies gained significant political and economic influence, they now also bear a bigger responsibility for these goods. Traditional Development Cooperation therefore has to be transformed into a new partnership. Many emerging powers have increasingly resources of their own for poverty reduction and are themselves actors of Development Cooperation in other states. At the same time, they are decisive for the provision and the protection of global public goods.

The participants of the conference discussed several important aspects for a new partnership with emerging economies:

Development Cooperation with emerging economies should not stop but take the direction of exchange of knowledge and know-how, especially in the sector of vocational training as well as environmental- and climate protection. At the same time, the political dialogue with emerging economies should play a central role. In order to make global public goods available for everyone, good governance, human rights and principles of market economy should be in the focus.

Emerging economies should play a bigger role in various fora of international cooperation and, at the same time, take on more responsibility. Global public goods are negotiated in several international policy arenas: The UN and the G20, the IMF and the World Bank, OECD and the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, the WTO and the global climate negotiations as well as the discussions about the Post-2015 Agenda. It is a necessary but difficult and complex task to refer these different processes of Global Governance to each other and to direct them towards the protection of global public goods. Furthermore, the financing of these goods is time and again the subject of harsh conflicts between industrialized countries, emerging economies and developing countries. As most of the world’s poor still live in emerging economies, these states often argue for a continuation of Development Cooperation through the West and are, at the same time, reluctant when it comes to financial contributions to global public goods, for example in the area of climate protection.

The position of the emerging economies in the diverse global fora is often contradictory. At times, the lines of argument are not consistent. In some cases, there is a lack the readiness for constructive compromise. The principle of the “Common but Differentiated Responsibility” is often subject to diverging views. The question of “who pays what” becomes a free rider problem in the area of global public goods. It is true that pressure for action and binding financial contributions to global public goods can be exerted by the population in various countries. But it is often hard for civil society to see their interests fully represented. And governments mostly don’t have to worry about political consequences at home if they don’t deliver what they promised in international negotiations.

A new partnership with emerging economies has to focus on the mutual gains of global cooperation. Instead of the continuation of global negotiations under the premise of a zero sum game and the steady reluctance to contribute to the provision of global public goods because of the free rider problem, more long term thinking is much needed. If global public goods like climate- or environmental protection, financial stability or health will not be protected in different regions across the globe, everybody will feel their lack sooner or later. Global public goods become global public “bads”.

Germany should align their different policies when it comes to cooperation with emerging economies in the bi-, and multilateral context and it should increasingly promote the exchange with the private and the civil society sector. As global public goods as well as the cooperation with emerging economies touch upon many fields of foreign policy, a tight coordination is crucial for a strategic approach to today’s most pressing global challenges.

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About this series

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, its educational institutions, centres and foreign offices, offer several thousand events on various subjects each year. We provide up to date and exclusive reports on selected conferences, events and symposia at In addition to a summary of the contents, you can also find additional material such as pictures, speeches, videos or audio clips.

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