From the Coordinators: The ENSURED Vision

Hylke Dijkstra
Clara Weinhardt
Hylke Dijkstra, Clara Weinhardt
From the Coordinators: The ENSURED Vision
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ENSURED has an exciting 30 months ahead. As we get started, we want to reflect on the questions that set the project in motion and what is coming down the pipeline.

To tackle global challenges – issues like the climate crisis, pandemics, or digitalisation – requires greater cooperation. At the same time, collective action is more difficult than ever: both the forces of populism and global power shifts are straining the current global governance system. What can the EU and its members do in response? How can they help make global governance more robust, effective and democratic?

These questions formed the impetus for the ENSURED project. Almost three years ago, in the spring of 2021, we learned that the European Union (EU) was about to launch a call for research proposals on the topic: “Global governance for a world in transition.”

This excited us. For years, we have researched global governance and grappled with its future in light of the changing world order. Now, the EU wanted help from the research community to support its efforts to defend and transform multilateralism. It was asking us to develop policy recommendations, narratives, and methodologies based on solid academic research.

This ask could not be more urgent. To answer the call, we immediately started building a consortium of universities, think tanks, and a civil society partner to develop an ambitious research proposal. One thing was clear to us from the start: to answer the big questions that the EU is confronting, we must think beyond the standard academic research approach.

On the road ahead, the EU has some tough choices to make. For the ENSURED project, we want to understand what these trade-offs mean for the global order.

Throughout the summer and fall of 2021, we built a unique consortium of 14 partners with unparalleled complementary expertise. Our team includes academics with a background in global governance, as well as those with expertise on the EU and its external relations. Beyond academia, ENSURED includes think tank experts close to policymaking in European capitals, and partners in Brazil, China, India, and the United States – four of the central players in global governance. In addition, to make sure to include those impacted by multilateral decisions, we teamed up with the world’s largest civil society alliance.

On the road ahead, the EU has some tough choices to make. Over the next years, it may have to decide between making global governance more representative and keeping it effective. For the ENSURED project, we want to understand what these trade-offs mean for the global order. To do so, we will conduct interviews with officials working for core global governance institutions, create a survey, and compare the different features of these institutions. Together, these findings will form the scientific evidence we need to help the EU transform its global governance.

After submitting our proposal in April 2022, we eagerly awaited the results. Early last year, we were thrilled to learn that our project had received the green light. Since we first conceived of the ENSURED project, a lot has changed: with the war against Ukraine, mounting de-risking trade strategies, and the rapid adoption of AI technologies,  the challenges facing global governance have grown even more pressing. We have a lot of work to do, which is why we are pleased that ENSURED is now well underway.

With the launch of this website, we “go public”. For the next 30 months, we will share our many research reports, policy briefs, blog posts, interviews with global governance experts, and updates on our events and news. Our hope: to equip policymakers at the member-state, EU and global levels with evidence-based insights, actionable recommendations, and the practical tools they need to promote a better global governance paradigm for a contested world in transition. We are excited to bring you along for the journey.

Hylke Dijkstra is the Project Coordinator of ENSURED and a Full Professor of International Security and Cooperation at Maastricht University. Clara Weinhardt is the Deputy Project Coordinator of ENSURED and an Assistant Professor in International Relations at Maastricht University.

(Photo: Jackie Alexander / Unsplash)
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