From new viruses to rising seas, many of our most urgent challenges are not contained by national borders. During the past several decades defined by globalization, nation-states and international organizations have focused on managing the worldwide flow of money, goods, people, services, and ideas. But many phenomena and flows that were once seen as mere background characters – such as microbes, atmospheric carbon compounds, oceanic plastics, the data flooding through algorithms, and more – have been revealed as central. Yet these non-human features do not care about our borders and political divisions. We are entering a new era, in which our pressing challenges exceed the narrow concerns of human beings. These challenges call for a conceptual break with traditional human-centered understandings of the world and its politics, toward processes and institutions that are planetary in scale and scope.
The Berggruen Institute’s Global to Planetary theme aims to clarify the political and philosophical implications of this shift and to develop new means and mechanisms to foster cooperation in addressing planetary challenges. Though the current backlash against globalization and interdependence creates obstacles to cooperation, the urgency of planetary concerns makes partnership crucial.