Osmany Porto de Oliveira
Globalisation has helped to intensify the international flow of people, information and policies. As a consequence, there has been increasing global concern regarding problems in areas such as immigration, health, poverty, among others.
The classic definition of public policies involves actions undertaken by governments to solve problems within their jurisdictions. However, often problems do not respect national boundaries. Sometimes, policies need to involve other nations, moving beyond domestic borders. There is a fast-growing literature related to the international dimension of public policies. Global public policy studies are part of this movement.
My recent article in Policy & Politics on Global Public Policy Studies explores the main issues, concepts and challenges in the study of global public policies. Specific attention is dedicated to the role of international development, far-right movements and the pandemic in global public policymaking.
Global public policies involve transnational cooperation and conflict, with both state and non-state (domestic and international) agents, by which policies are produced to address problems on a global scale. For example, we can think about the setting of global agendas, such as the United Nations New Urban Agenda for cities, the localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the implementation of international frameworks such as the Paris Agreement. Other types of global public policies are transnational actions attempting to find solutions for a variety of global issues such as hunger, gender equality and citizen empowerment.
The usual suspects involved in global public policymaking are international organisations and states. Nevertheless, my analysis is not limited to these agents but instead includes a diverse group of global public policymaking participants, including subnational governments, private consultancies, NGO’s, and social movements, among others.
One of the main challenges of this area of study is understanding the dimensions of power, politics and geopolitics in the production of global public policies. The power to influence global public policies varies from one agent to another. These asymmetries are related to countries and organisations (for example a philanthropic organisation, such as the Rockefeller Foundation, might have more influence on a specific global public policy through funding, than a small NGO via advocacy). Understanding global public policymaking requires consideration of the political power of different agents.
Another emerging issue for scholars is the development of far-right movements which have been supporters of the anti-globalist movement, exalting nationalism. Leaders such as the former U.S. President, Donald Trump, and the current President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, are examples of authority figures who have vilified global institutions, such as the World Health Organisation. A similar movement arose in Europe with the Eurosceptics. Resistance towards global programmes and organisations is an important phenomenon for researchers interested in explaining how global public policies work.
Finally, the current COVID-19 pandemic also presents an interesting set of questions for global public policy studies. Are international organisations able to respond rapidly to urgent global problems? How important are epistemic communities in coordinating action during global crises? What level of policy capacity at a local level is needed in order to implement global solutions designed by international agents? Responding to these questions is not only important for advancing research, but is also crucial to improve global responses in times of crisis.
The field of global public policy is undergoing rapid development and there is a lot to be learned from it. It offers an excellent platform for taking new risks and breaking new frontiers in policy and politics research. My article offers an exploration of the concepts invoked by global public policies, methodological tips for conducting research, and discussion about three frontiers of knowledge: the role of development, power and geopolitics, and far-right movements and pandemics. In this way, it offers a roadmap for beginners in the field as well as new topics as food for thought for experienced scholars.
You can read the original research in Policy & Politics:
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