Issues underpinning major global problems

Governments around the world have initiated a number of development programmes and in recent years more and more effort has gone into ensuring that the global economy is directed along a sustainable path.
But despite strong political commitment from world leaders, many countries have been unable to make significant progress in their initiatives, for example, in slowing and mitigating the effects of climate change.  As a result, many countries around the world are suffering from natural disasters, including floods.
So what’s wrong with governments and why are so many of them are unable to perform their duties and fail to address climate change despite the threat it poses? 
Of course, the problems faced by governments are extremely complex so it’s not easy to come up with solutions. Extensive studies are needed to determine the root cause of a particular problem.
But while it may not be easy to identify the main cause of a problem, there are theories that can be applied to explain the main causes of the global failure to address climate change.
Of courses, there are many methods that can be used to explain social and natural phenomena and here I would like to highlight the performance management theory to explain the failure of governments to address climate change.
According to this theory, the performance of public organisations or governments depends on three main factors - capacity, willingness and opportunity. If one of these is lacking, they will fail to complete a given task.
Taking a look at real life examples, there are public organisations with sufficient knowledge and supporting equipment that are unable to make any progress. This is because they are unwilling to do anything because they view the problem as being none of their business.
At the same time, there are public organisations that have a strong commitment to work and a willingness to do their job. But, unfortunately, they may not have the knowledge and capacity to perform certain tasks. Perhaps they have not received proper training and educational support from the relevant authorities to perform their duties.
The final case is that there are many organisations that possess the desire and capacity to do the job but lack opportunities and support from the relevant sectors. So they too are unable to perform well.
In a nutshell, the performance of government organisations must be based on all three factors. Without one of these factors, they will not be able to fulfill their assigned jobs and responsibilities.
We come back to the question: Why do so many governments around the world fail to address climate change? My answer is that I don’t know but by applying the theory of a management theory, I find it possible to give a general explanation. 
To understand this issue, I think we have to look at the three factors - namely willingness, capacity and opportunity - in order to improve the performance of the government to address the climate change.
As I haven’t conducted any research or studies about which factors governments are lacking, I won’t be able to draw any conclusions or provide recommendations on this issue.
But I think it is time for governments around the world to address the real reasons for their failure, which has led to slow progress in addressing climate change.
The key questions relating to the main causes of the underperformance of public agencies are for what reasons? Is it because they lack capacity or they lack willingness or opportunity?
While I cannot say with 100 percent certainty which of these factors is causing poor performance on the part of public agencies to address climate change, I assume that the key factor is perceived lack of  opportunity.
This assumption in based on the fact that even though there is a lot of data and scientific research on how the emission of carbon dioxide causes the melting of icebergs and glaciers, along with storms and heavy rainfall, many of the world’s leaders, especially in industrialised nations, do not see this challenge as an opportunity to address climate change. They fear that if they take action their economies will suffer, such as through the imposition of carbon taxes aimed at encouraging industry to adopt environmentally-friendly technology, which would result in their economies being uncompetitive.
Based on this assumption, I believe many global leaders must use climate change as an opportunity to transform their economies to make them more sustainable and develop ones that balance economic gain with environmental protection.
In conclusion, from the perspective of the performance management theory, there are three factors that governments have to consider when addressing major global problems in particular climate change. These are capacity, willingness and the opportunities available to their organisations. If global leaders can bring all of these together, they should be able to address climate change and other major global issues more effectively.
By Ekaphone Phouthonesy, a journalist at Vientiane Times with more than a decade of reporting experience and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Flinders University, Australia. Comments, questions, suggestions or opinion contributions, please Email:ekaphouthonesy@gmail.com

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update September 17, 2018)


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