The world’s nations are connected but not co-operating.
That was the warning issued by a group of international political heavyweights in Dubai on Monday at the opening of an event bidding to solve the planet’s “most serious and pressing issues”.
The World Economic Forum’s Summit  on the Global Agenda - a high-profile three-day meeting that has attracted more than 1,000 experts from academia, business and civil society from around the world - kicked off yesterday with a call for greater co-operation between countries to meet critical global goals.
In a lively panel discussion on the event’s opening day, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stressed that while the trend of globalisation may have made the countries in the world more dependent than ever before, without greater co-operation the international community risks missing crucial goals on everything from climate change to poverty.
Brown said international co-operation had actually “waned rather than risen as a result of the financial crisis”.
Fellow panelist Pascal Lamy - director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) - said that after several years of global financial turbulence, individual governments have been left demoralised and lacking energy to tackle international issues.
“People are angry - there is too much unemployment, there is not enough economic growth,” he said.
“Governments have less political energy - and doing things internationally necessitates a lot of political energy. You have to explain to your people that you have to do things that you might not do if you were standing alone, but you have to do it because you have to interact, compromise and find a trade-off with others,” he added.
UN deputy secretary general Jan Eliasson said he had not seen a “more drastic” change in the global order in his lifetime than that of the last five years, with the global economy  tipping towards developing nations, especially in Asia .
He acknowledged the world’s to-do list was daunting - ranging from what he called the “existential threat” of climate change to the need to empower women. He drew applause when he noted the all-male panel was not doing its bit to advance the latter goal.
Earlier the event had opened in the presence of UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum when UAE Finance Minister Sultan Al Mansoori made a speech calling for “new horizons of co-operation”.
“A partnership between rich and poor countries, large and small and medium enterprises and between global organisations and specialised organisations must be formed,” he said.
Former Brit PM Brown - himself ousted in an election following the financial crisis - warned that the world could ill afford not to confront big challenges. There will be another crisis he said, and when it comes, “people will ask why did we not learn the lesson that there had to be greater international co-operation in dealing with these problems”.
The event continues Tuesday.