A ministry of foreign affairs is a very traditional place where men in suits analyze international challenges and find answers in closed circles. Right?
The future of diplomacy might very well look more like a co-working space, where collaborative brainstorming formats are organized to tap the knowledge and ideas of creative minds from all walks of life.
Let us introduce two bottom-up initiatives we’ve had the chance to contribute to: the volunteer think tank foraus, which is crowdsourcing the ideas and knowledge of hundreds of young foreign policy pundits. And the Open Situation Rooms format which enables MFAs and international institutions to tap the problem solving capacities of creative people.
Who can manage complexity in a multipolar world?
This is not to say foreign policy ever used to be a simple business. States have interests and more often than not, those were conflicting interests. Diplomacy is an art and a craft, it takes experience and knowledge today just like it used to a thousand years ago. But these days, international politics have become enormously complex, and thus, sometimes confusing to the traditional diplomat.
Not only are the topics new, disruptive and highly technical, but they are also emerging with increasing speed. Internet governance will set crucial precedents for the way we govern communication in the future; last year’s Ebola outbreak just gave us another example for the kind of lethal challenges we have to tackle, while climate change brings surprising and devastating catastrophes that require sophisticated and concerted long-term action.