From the spread of new viruses to the rising of the seas to the risks posed by advanced technologies, many of the world’s most urgent emerging challenges are uncontained by national borders. In the global era, nation-states have focused on managing the worldwide flow of money, goods, people, services, and ideas, and on resolving disputes about these human-centered concerns. But now, we are entering a new era when our pressing concerns exceed the narrow intentions of human beings and require processes and institutions that are inherently planetary in scale and scope.
Microbes, atmospheric carbon molecules, oceanic plastics, and the data flooding through algorithms do not care about our borders and political divisions. In the era of the Planetary, we must recognize that we are inescapably entwined in mutual reliance and interdependency not just with each other but with the biogeochemical processes of the Earth itself. The Planetary calls for a fundamental conceptual break with traditional human-centered understandings of the world and its politics.
The Berggruen Institute’s program on the Planetary seeks to clarify the philosophical implications of this shift and to develop new means and mechanisms to foster cooperation in addressing planetary challenges. Even though the current backlash against globalization and interdependence presents obstacles to cooperation, the urgency of the planetary makes achieving partnership ever more important.