10 Working Groups to Watch in 2016

The think tank and academic worlds are evolving in an effort to generate new solutions for global challenges like war, climate change, and tensions among the global powers. No longer do academics and analysts live in a bubble, separate from policy makers; instead, working groups exist to link academic institutions and research centers with policy makers and experts. This intellectual cross-pollination helps produce comprehensive strategies to efficiently tackle global challenges.

To help highlight the complex and vital issues being addressed worldwide, we’ve compiled the following list of 10 working groups to keep an eye on during 2016.

  1. The Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment aims to establish a wide framework to discuss policies related to climate engineering technology. Also known as geo-engineering, this technology involves the modification of Earth's environment to control climate change. Its staff includes co-director Simon Nicholson, who is also the director of American University’s Global Environmental Politics program. The forum’s work can be followed via the numerous events it organizes, mostly at AU’s campus, and via its website’s blog. For example, in a January video commentary Professor Nicholson discussed the road ahead after the 2015 COP21 meeting.
  2. The Commission on Global Security, Justice, and Governance was created by Citizens for Global Solutions and has the goal of addressing how multinational organizations, like the United Nations and the International Court of Justice, can be proactive in dealing with issues of global governance. The commission published a wide-ranging report titled “Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance” in 2015 and has the ambitious goal of organizing a World Conference on Global Institutions in 2020.
  3. The CSIS Commission on Countering Violent Extremism was created by the Center for Strategic and International Studies to formulate a strategy on how the public and private sectors can cooperate to counter violent extremism worldwide. It is co-chaired by former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. The commission was launched at a February 23 event at CSIS headquarters, during which Blair gave keynote remarks.
  4. The Women's Foreign Policy Group promotes women’s leadership and voices in international relations. It organizes various events, such as the Embassy Series, in which female ambassadors to the United States discuss issues pertinent to their home nations. This D.C.-based organization also links gender issues with global affairs. For example, in November 2015 it held a discussion on women and peacekeeping in the Central African Republic. President and Co-founder Patricia Ellis has extensive experience in international relations, having worked as a foreign affairs reporter and producer for the MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
  5. The Nuclear Security Working Group brings together senior foreign policy experts from both sides of the aisle in U.S. politics to promote nuclear diplomacy and educate about nuclear security. George Washington University Professor Janne Nolanchairs the group, and its membership includes scholars of the nuclear security and international relations fields, such as Dr. Geoffrey Kemp from the Center for the National Interest, Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield from the Stimson Center, and reporter Robin Wright.
  6. The Fissile Materials Working Group is a coalition of more than 80 civil society organizations aimed at preventing nuclear terrorism. Its coordinating director is Lesley McNiesh, who has extensive experience from her time at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Over the years, the group has organized various high-level meetings in support of nuclear security summits. It recently published a report titled “The Results We Need in 2016,” which provided relevant and timely recommendations for the 2016 National Security Summit held in Washington D.C.
  7. The High Level Panel on the Future of Multilateral Development Banking was organized in late 2015 by the Center for Global Development. Its objective is to discuss the future of multilateral development banking, such as the World Bank and the CAF/Development Bank of Latin America. The experts included on the panel are Enrique Iglesias, former president of the Inter-American Development Bank; Caio Koch-Weser, vice-chairman of the Deutsche Bank Group; and Ray Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. The panel’s report on its findings will be published this year.
  8. The Global Gender and Climate Alliance aims to promote constructive climate change policies that take into account gender perspectives. In order to maximize its outreach, the alliance produces succinct reports on issues like climate justice and women’s rights, as well as a webinar series that discusses topics like U.N. processes for gender and climate change. The alliance has a wide membership of agencies, including U.N. Women and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The alliance’s interim coordinator is Vicky Markham, an expert on global gender and climate change policy.
  9. The Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises was established by the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2011 to support the implementation of guiding principles on business and human rights. To accomplish this, the group carries out country visits—delegations visited Azerbaijan in 2014 and Brazil in 2015—and it will hold three meetings this year in Geneva. The current chairman is Dante Pesce, who is also the special advisor on public policy to the U.N. Global Compact.
  10. The Commission on Global Poverty, launched by the World Bank in 2015, addresses two goals: eradicating chronic poverty and boosting shared prosperity. The commission is preparing a report that will provide recommendations on how the World Bank can achieve these objectives. Its 24 members include experts like Sir Anthony Atkinson from Oxford University; Francisco Ferreira from the World Bank; and Nora Lustig from Tulane University.

Working groups bring together scholars, policy makers, and other experts to generate new strategies to tackle global issues. This list exemplifies the brilliant minds that are working together to address climate change, nuclear security, global poverty, gender inequality, and violent extremism.

Tweet us your thoughts about which other global issues require multilateral attention.