21 January 2014 – Comment: Federal government statements about “slashing green tape” appear increasingly maverick in the light of the World Economic Forum stating clearly that failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation, water crises, and greater incidence of extreme weather events are among the top 10 risks faced by global economies.

The Global Risks Report 2014 was released earlier this month. What our leaders may want to pay particular attention to is the WEF statement that, “Given that global risks can be addressed effectively only through international collaboration, it is hardly a surprise that global governance failure is also included in the list as the risk of seventh highest concern.”

Given our government was roundly derided internationally for not sending a representative to Warsaw for the International Panel on Climate Change talks in November last year, ignoring the call for a global response and contributing to governance failure appears to be a risk our policy makers are willing to take.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed at the Council of Australian Governmentsin December 2013 between the states and territories and the federal government, which signals a firm shift towards a “one-stop shop” model for environmental approvals is another example of questionable governance that reduces the chances risks will be adequately identified and mitigated.

The WEF are hopeful that overall the governance risk can be addressed through a more “intricate lattice”  of interconnected government agreements.

The report states:

“The risk of global governance failure, which lies at the heart of the risk map, is linked to the risk of climate change. Negotiations on climate change mitigation and adaptation are progressing by fits “and starts, perpetually challenged to deliver a global legal framework. Meanwhile, a regime of national, regional and public-private collaborative efforts to address the problem is gathering pace.

“This may represent the future of global governance – a more intricate lattice of multiple, interconnected government agreements related to relatively simple global ‘goals’ (such as a commitment to limit warming to no more than two degrees Celsius), supported by a framework of collaborative alliances and partnerships to help deliver on that target across different themes, regions or sectors.”

“Arguably, such a heterogeneous and diverse intergovernmental and public-private response to the climate-change risk could offer more resilience and flexibility to the dynamic challenge of climate change than a homogenous, single global framework.”

Now if only our government could see the potential brownie points in picking that ball up and running with it…