Global disruptions and resilience :

Impact of Global Summits in Nov. 2022

It was with a muffin in one hand and a pen in the other that Sciences Po students attentively listened to Prof. Yves Tiberghien on the evening of November 22, a conference organized by Hathena Dean (HD), the Political, Public Speaking and Debate Student Union

Professor of Political Science and the Konkawai Chair of Japanese Studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Prof. Tiberghien captured and held the audience’s attention with his entertaining and fascinating personage and limitless interest in the world and its dynamics. His job involves writing reports and sending them directly to the most influential politicians in the world. He was greatly inspired by the topic of the discussion, Global disruptions and resilience: Impact of Global Summits.

What are your top 3 global concerns over the next 10 years?

   Prof. Tiberghien started with this vast question: “What are you more afraid of ? A military clash between China and the US, the future of Africa or threats from aliens?”. A vote of the audience revealed that the most important global concerns appeared to be, first of all, climate change causing great storms and disasters; secondly, pollution and warming of ocean; and finally rise of nationalism and populism with migration crises. Since the end of the 20th century, one answer has been observed to remedy these torments: organization of international summits. However, in the face of geopolitical tensions and great technological, climate, economic, and military disruptions, can global governance make a difference? By analyzing two global meetings concentrated on November 2022, the G20 Assembly in Bali and COP27 in Egypt, we will see if these global summits have stabilized tensions and helped solving public goods. 

   The Mangrove diplomacy was a particular feature of the G20 held in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia on November 15–16, 2022. But what is behind this extravagant form of diplomacy? An atypical picture had portrayed US President Joe Biden, Indonesia President Joko Widodo or European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen putting all their efforts into planting mangrove seeds. Prof explained that just “Half an hour after the NATO countries hugged together in solidarity of the Ukrainian war, they joined without transition in front of these baby plant mangroves”. 

  However, his gardening activity was far from trivial, being part of Indonesian wish to showcase its willingness to preserve mangrove plants. It was consequently a symbol to fight the climate crisis. According to Prof Tiberghien,  this summit appeared as the “most important global summit after the great financial crisis of 2008”. Since Indonesia was not even a NATO country, hopes regarding this summit’s success were more than meager. Nevertheless, according to Yves Tiberghien, Indonesia managed to get a G20 consensus against all expectations and put an end to all the “toxic international relations for a period of time”.

BBC Novembre 16th 2022- G20 leaders planting trees suring the Bali Summit

    A bit earlier in the month, from 6 to 20 November, COP27 was held in Charm el-Cheikh, Egypt. Organized into several zones, the global summit was able to arouse the interest of all : ordinary citizens, university professors and politicians. Naman Kapoor, an alumni of Le Havre campus, who had the chance to attend this summit, noted the existence of green zones open to anyone desiring extra information on climate change. These educational activities were not only pedagogical but entertaining, looking very much like a “music festival”. On the other hand, the student added that a pass was needed to access another type of area: blue zones, “the place where the negotiation happened”. When Naman Kapoor entered the negotiation room, he felt a particular pride of being there between professors from 15 universities around the world ardently debating. 

    According to the alumni, since this event was gathering a lot of groups with divergent interests, this summit could have been easily a vain attempt, but participants managed to reach solutions, not radical but still solutions. COP27 has made consequent progress managing to get everybody on the same page. Indeed, even developing countries express their opinion on climate. A real change occurred as global warming had started to be regarded as a multifaceted problem. It is not only seen as a problem affecting the face of the planet but also a security and health problem. Naman Kapoor speaks highly of the commitment aspect of this COP27 while being still “skeptical on how it will go”.  

  Prof Y. Tiberghien explained that this conference was “another very important arena” for debating solutions on the climate crisis. Some progress on regulation of loss and damage can be highlighted but the deadlock on accelerating emission cuts and phasing out coal due to the Saudi and Russia-led veto coalition is still alarming. 

Photo taken by Lalin 

In the second part of his presentation, Prof Y.Tiberghien explained three lenses to make sense of current tensions in the Indo-Pacific, the first one being domestic polarization or hardening in many key countries. Political responses to shocks are failing to maintain order and peaceful ways out. Prof Y.Tiberghien. illustrated this idea through the crisis of China’s internal model.

The CCP developed a hybrid model, delivering 40 years of extraordinary growth and stability. The Deng Era grafted a new Development Bargain on the Maoist State and Party structure, making China into a systemic power through social and economic freedom, wealth, technology and travel if agreeing to the CCP dictatorship. 

After 2008, there was a combination of hubris and fear coming from the CCP, which was later embodied by Xi JinPing. Robust responses in the different provinces as well as national security expanding institutionally and massively, were chosen by the CCP to reaffirm the party’s control. 

According to Prof Y. Tiberghien , the ‘Zero Covid policy’ couldn’t work, and was dangerous making life hard for the general middle class.. China has finally chosen to relax, restrain escalationing, after refusing to follow that path.

Secondly, since about 2008, the international system has profoundly been remodeled, generating a great security dilemma and arms race – known as the Thucydides trap. The dynamics have changed from unipolar to multipolar, with a nested partial hegemonic transition within this between the US and China. This hegemonic realism can only be mitigated by “global institutions, global norm, people to people and cultural engagement, domestic support on both sides and support by third parties and middle powers” as stated by Prof Y.Tiberghien.

Thirdly, he observes a mismatch between global interaction and the human mind focused on domestic narratives. The creation of global independence and global response to climate change implies common rules. Globalization generating great wealth and innovation; it can only exist on the basis of rules agreed through cooperation between major countries, at best under institutionalization with a mixture of multilateral, regional, and bilateral agreements. All power is at the level of states, so states have to cooperate. The US and China don’t understand it fully, they are so focused on each other. On the other hand,  Indonesia, an emerging nation, managed to do something developed ones did not. Also, we see a general clash between national cultural/political emotions and the reality of global connectivity.

After replying to several outstanding questions, Prof Yves Tiberghien made a point about the Canada-China relationship. There is no formal agreement between the two countries, but a new Indo-Pacific strategy is being put forward by Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister. The approach of Trudeau, releasing information to the media, has created a running frustration on Xi’s part. In a more general context, there are two schools of thoughts about dealing with China for the West: either by crossing limits and standing up with force (the American view) or through debate and psychology alongside diplomatic politeness.

It was not an easy job for our director M. Hauchecorne to put an end to Prof Y. Tiberghien’s présentation. Stephanie Balm, Dean of Sciences Po Paris, closed the conference by confessing her admiration and wonder in front of her friend’s knowledge, as we all were. She also linked the necessity of climate action, improved civic virtues and deepened critical thinking that Sciences Pio students are allowed through the mandatory course on ecological culture taught to 1As. What a clever way to conclude the event right?

This once in a lifetime opportunity was made possible thanks to the thorough involvement of Hathena Dialogue, the renowned Dean Stéphanie Balme and the bright Professor Tiberghein, in compliance with our esteemed director, Micheal Hauchecorne.

Photo taken by Lalin

By Carla Pétrissans and Mathilde Lefebvre 

Photo credits : Lalin Duangphatra, HD, BBC

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