The Case for Collective Action

Pauł Sochacki, Smoking Kills, 2015. Oil on canvas, 140 x 170 cm. Courtesy of the artist. Find out more


Climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty, macroeconomic instability: Many of the world's most pressing problems require global collective action. We need top-level political impetus, a vision for the norms and general principles behind the policies – and the initiation of concrete policies. Yet, the Russian invasion into Ukraine has the potential to severely set back multilateral cooperation and limit the space for global collective action.

Mistrust and geopolitical rivalries have again taken center stage. Given the urgency of addressing the challenges, however, the world cannot afford to fall back into a polarization of blocs. In an effort to keep and widen the space for global collective action, the Think7, an international network of Think Tanks that advise the G7 presidency, have published a Communiqué with recommendations to the G7 leaders.

THE NEW INSTITUTE has supported this process, several fellows have contributed their expertise and wrote Policy Briefs. The program on the "Socio-Economic Transformation" will contribute substantial ideas for the implementation. A central recommendation is that the G7 must act, in strong collaboration with the G20, to resist a fallback into a polarized world, which would undermine any past achievements of the world community with regard to peace and rule-based multilateral institutions.

Further, the Think7 calls upon the G7 countries, to take a strong lead in the design and implementation of a systemic, socio-economic transformation. This should entail a G7 initiative to build a set of measures for assessing the transformation. This set of measures necessarily has to capture social prosperity (e.g. social solidarity or individual empowerment) and planetary health next to material well-being (as measured by GDP). The G7 should also consider how it can bridge existing policy silos and convene alliances across policy themes.

On Wednesday, May 25, the Think7 Communiqué was officially handed over to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Scholz currently chairs the G7. The Think7 network unites more than 160 research institutions and think tanks from the G7 countries and beyond. With the final Communiqué, this group has produced a joint statement that reflects views and ideas from this eminent group.


A bird, a dolphin, an octopus, a dog, a snowman, a mouse and a centipede lie around a picnic blanket. The dog lies relaxed on his side, his head resting in his right paw, and holds a cigarette in his left, from which a simple thread of smoke snakes. A line puts the sentence written in unadorned handwriting in his mouth: "We are human / no nationality". The joke of the picture lies in the refraction of the serious theme of a critique of nationalism invoking humanism by motifs of an animal fable. But the joke never lies on the surface of a motif in the work of Pauł Sochacki (*1983, Kraków); it seeps out of every smallest creative decision. The painting comes in a rather monumental format, with the eggshell-colored primer taking up most of the surface. With a semi-dry stroke, the figures are outlined like sketches, and even their coloring washes out into the glaze, as if the next breeze could blow them away. The title of the painting then tips the whole thing over again with a stark change of subject: "Smoking Kills".

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