Global Challenges Prize for Global Cooperation 2017

Publish Date: Feb 01, 2017

Deadline: May 24, 2017


A New Shape

Remodelling Global Cooperation

Calling big thinkers, from all disciplines, everywhere. The world needs your brainpower and your best ideas as never before. Compete for US$5 million in prizes. Help to reshape our world.

How it works

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape. This competition is a quest to find new models of global cooperation capable of handling global risks. It will award US$5 million in prizes for the best ideas that re-envision global governance for the 21st century.

Be part of the effort to safeguard our world for future generations. Be part of the global conversation. Help to change the shape of things to come.

What is the competition looking for?

The aim of the prize is to find models or frameworks for international cooperation, capable of addressing the interlinked risks and problems of climate change, other large-scale environmental damage, violent conflict (including nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction), extreme poverty, and expected continuing rapid population growth.

The competition is not looking for blueprints for solving the individual issues in question, or to avert specific risks. Rather, entrants should focus on designing a decision-making structure or framework that could galvanize effective international action to tackle these risks.  The proposed model may encompass an entirely new global framework or a proposed reform for existing systems.

Who is the competition open to?

The prize competition is open to anyone - individuals, groups of individuals, universities, companies or associations - anywhere in the world. Every entry, however, requires one contact person for registration.

How do I enter?

Submissions should be no more than 9250 words. Entries can be submitted in English, Mandarin, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, and French. Multiple submissions are acceptable so long as they all address the prize’s criteria.

Please register your interest above. Once you have done this you will receive further information to how to submit your entry.

What do the winners receive?

The total sum of the prize fund, which will be distributed in its entirety, is US$5 million. The prize fund will be distributed amongst the short-listed contributions at the Foundation’s discretion. At least US$1 million  will be awarded for the most distinguished entry or entries.

The prize allocation may also include smaller awards for particularly innovative entries that do not amount to an entire global framework but contain novel partial solutions, such as the composition of a specific decision-making body.

How do you decide the winner(s)?

Entries will be evaluated by a panel of academic experts followed by a high-level international jury of respected global figures. The jury will choose the final winners based on how well they meet the criteria.

What happens to the winning ideas?

The Foundation is committed to supporting the winning ideas, ultimately towards implementation. However, the precise support will be determined by the nature of those ideas.


Today, mankind lives not only in national societies, but also in a global community. This means that the behaviours and decisions of the inhabitants of nation-states also impact the vital interests of inhabitants of other countries. The world community is facing a number of great global challenges which have to be jointly managed by all countries through increased co-operation and an increased understanding of our interconnectedness.

Global warming may be the most obvious example: Greenhouse gas emissions in any particular country impact global climate change. The list is long: other large-scale environmental damage, politically motivated violence (war, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction), extreme poverty, pandemics, the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, and extensive refugee streams.

The continuing rapid population growth – the global population has quadrupled over the last 100 years, and is expected to increase by another 50 percent by the year 2100 – makes all these problems worse. This issue is not taken seriously enough, even though it is common knowledge that there are not nearly enough resources on the planet for the entire population of Earth to enjoy a Western standard of living.

In order to manage these challenges, we need effective ways of making collectively binding, long-term decisions that take into account the interests of all those affected, including future generations. The system currently in place to manage these issues – including the UN and the organizations connected with the UN – are, in their present form, not up to the task. The lack of effective global governance leads to a continuous escalation of many of the global catastrophic risks.

The Global Challenges Foundation wants to challenge participants from all over the world to formulate alternatives to the present order of things – either by sufficiently complementing, strengthening and revising the present UN system, or by proposing completely new forms of governance. The proposals should be drafted with the aim of identifying and, as far as possible, preventing or minimising risks of the kind mentioned above.

The Task

The participant shall design a governance model able to effectively address the most pressing threats and risks to humanity. The governance model must also be such that it can be implemented within the foreseeable future. This requires for it to be acceptable to major states and the wider international community. A significant measure of civic acceptance is also required.  

The contributions must consist of the following three parts:

1. Abstract (no more than 1000 words) 

The abstract must summarize the design of the model, including the institutions, regulations, decision-making paths and control mechanisms it involves, as well as how key individuals and other decision-making bodies are to be appointed. You must clearly define the functions of the various components, their areas of responsibility and the extent of their decision-making mandate. Also, describe how the model is meant to manage both current and emerging challenges and risks.

2. Description of the Model (no more than 5500 words)

The document must be divided into subsections with clear and descriptive headings.

3. Argumentation demonstrating how the model meets the assessment criteria (no more than 2750 words)

For each of the criteria listed below, you must provide convincing arguments as to how the proposed model meets the criterion.

Assessment criteria

Contributions will be assessed based on how well they can be expected to meet the criteria listed below.  In some cases, ensuring that certain criteria are met may make it harder to realize others. In such cases, trade-offs must be made. How well participants manage such trade-offs will be an important factor in the assessment. Good ideas on how to establish the governance model in reality will also be considered in the assessment.

1. Core Values.

Decisions within the governance model must be guided by the good of all humankind and by respect for the equal value of all human beings.

2. Decision-Making Capacity.

Decision-making within the governance model must generally be possible without crippling delays that prevent the challenges from being adequately addressed.

3. Effectiveness.

In order to effectively address the global challenges and risks, the governance model must include means to ensure implementation of decisions. 

4. Resources and Financing.

The proposed governance model must have sufficient human and material resources at its disposal, and these resources must be financed in an equitable manner.

5. General Security.

The governance model must guarantee international security and prevent disputes from escalating into war or other large-scale armed violence. Nations and ethnic groups must be guaranteed protection from external attack and must receive assistance in handling internal disputes fairly.

6. Flexibility.

A successful governance model must allow revisions and improvements of its structure and components.

7. Accountability and Transparency.

It is a fundamental requirement of a successful governance model that it performs the tasks it has been charged with, and that decision-makers can be held accountable for their actions. This includes mechanisms against abuse of power, which can invalidate decisions and actions that exceed the mandate of the governance model, and which can step in when it is clear that decision-makers and relevant institutions are not doing their job correctly. This requires transparency and extensive insight into power structures and decision-making processes.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

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