In Our Common Agenda, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres paints a picture of a world facing a choice between collapse and breakthrough. If we make the wrong choice, we will be hit by a mutating virus repeatedly haunting us. Health systems will not be able to handle the pressure and the vaccines will be distributed unequally. The planet will heat up, resulting in melting polar ice caps, floods, droughts, cyclones, animal species extinction and wasted human lives. Poverty will increase, protests will be crushed, human rights will be neglected while the development of new forms of warfare will prevent all peace initiatives.
But if we choose the model of the UN and the World Economic Forum, we are promised Paradise. A greener, safer and better world with a rapid crisis response, including a health system where vaccines are available to all, where fossil fuels are phased out and the global average temperatures are kept in check, and where everyone is given the right to a digital connection to access a lifelong quality education.
The reasoning is similar to what Klaus Schwab expressed during the declaration of The Great Reset:
We have a choice to remain passive, which would lead to the amplification of many of the trends we see today. Polarisation, nationalism, rasism, and ultimately increasing social unrest and conflicts. But we have another choice, we can build a new social contract, particularly integrating the next generation, we can change our behavior to be in harmony with nature again, and we can make sure the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are best utilized to provide us with better lives
All we need to do is hand over the power and our lives to the UN and its partner WEF and allow ourselves to be integrated under the watchful eye of the Digital God. As the cherished environmental guru and frequent WEF participant Johan Rockström from the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact said in an interview in 2015:
I can see no other way than that 200 countries must relinquish part of their decision-making power to a planetary institutional administration. We have to work with the institutions we have, and there is only one institution that is global, the UN.
To meet the goals of Agenda 2030, everyone must be involved. In Our Common Agenda, the first commitment (out of twelve) is Leave no one behind. This concerns a renewed social contract between governments and citizens which, according to the UN, should be based on human rights, including a social safety net with health care, income security, housing, education and decent work. Who can say no to that?
On closer inspection, however, the contract seems to be mostly about being digitally connected to the worldwide control system, being trained with “right” values, housed in a “smart city” with ubiquitous surveillance, and promised a universal basic income (UBI) – if you obediently follow all contradictory orders from the UN.
It is a social contract for the digital age where citizens’ rights and obligations must be adapted to today’s needs with lifelong learning, a “fair and inclusive” transition to a zero-carbon society and a “responsible” use of technology, where the spread of “false” or unpleasant information must be prevented. In other words, it is a contract where you are to blindly accept what the government imposes on you and where you will be excluded from taking part in both community service and financial services if you refuse or have a different opinion.
The background of this contract can be traced to 2011 when the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) released the report World in Transition – A Social Contract for Sustainability. Issues of a similar nature had previously been discussed at the conference The Great Transformation – Climate Change as Cultural Change in Essen 2009. The focus was on the Pope’s adviser Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, then head of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact, and Nebojsa Nakicenovic from the International Research Institute IIASA. The report stated that:
Adding together all of these challenges involved in the transformation to come, it becomes clear that the upcoming changes go far beyond technological and technocratic reforms: the business of society must be founded on a new ‘business basis’. This is, in fact, all about a new global social contract for a low-carbon and sustainable global economic system. It is based on the central concept that individuals and civil societies, states and the global community of states, as well as the economy and science, carry the joint responsibility for the avoidance of dangerous climate change, and the aversion of other threats to humankind as part of the Earth system. The social contract consolidates a culture of attentiveness (born of a sense of ecological responsibility), a culture of participation (as a democratic responsibility), and a culture of obligation towards future generations (future responsibility).
A new social contract (“The New Social Covenant”) between citizens, society and companies was also proposed in 2014 by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Values after being initiated at the 2013 annual meeting. The project, which was created in response to growing concerns about rising inequality, unemployment, social unrest and inadequate global governance, was closely coordinated with the United Nations Global Compact and sponsored by the British major bank Barclays. This also included a collaboration with the forum’s communities Young Global Leaders and Global Shapers.
The covenant was based on three basic principles: to promote the public good, human dignity and the management of the planet. It was to a small extent focused on the technological solutions (4IR) that was introduced during the 2016 annual meeting. However, this would change rapidly, which became clear in the following years. Klaus Schwab‘s book Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution from 2018 emphasised that the new technology needed to relate to values such as justice, dignity and the common good.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution would be used to create a “better” and “fairer” society. Johan Rockström explained what this meant at the 2018 annual meeting:
The rationale is simple: in the next three decades, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of Things, will transform everyone’s lives. At the moment the compass direction for this transformation is unclear. We need to ensure this transformation is towards a prosperous and resilient zero-carbon future. (Johan Rockström)
In that same year, the World Economic Forum report Identity in a Digital World: A new chapter in the social contract was released, in which the relationship between the individual and society in a digital world was analysed. It was concluded in this that a digital identity is a central part of how the social contract is to be achieved.
”…digital identities can help transform the future for billions of individuals, all over the world, enabling them to access new economic, political and social opportunities, while enjoying digital safety, privacy and other human rights.”
Behind the report were companies such as Accenture, Mastercard, Visa, Hyperledger, AT&T and Barclays together with, among others, Open Society, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNDP, ID2020 and the European Commission. Several of these have key roles in building the infrastructure for the new digital control system.
Barclay’s interpretation of the contract can be illustrated by the fact that in 2020 they were exposed to be using spyware to monitor how much time their employees spent at their desks and then send alerts if they took longer breaks. In a digital world, there are great opportunities to automatically monitor all processes. I will return to the Digital Identity in future posts and its connection to UN goal number 16 on a legal identity for all.
By 2025, Guterres proposes a World Social Summit where the new social contract will be discussed.
Such a meeting was proposed in October 2020 by the Club of Madrid/World Leadership Alliance. This think tank, which consists of former Heads of State and Government and “act to strengthen democratic leadership and institutional capacity to better address major global challenges”, led by Slovenia’s former President Danilo Türk. A UN diplomat who served as an adviser to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and also himself ran for the post of Secretary-General.
Again, the pandemic is mentioned as the triggering event. As expressed by the Club of Madrid:
The pandemic has exposed inequalities of wealth, gender and race, and will have prompted the first major decline in the Human Development Index in over 30 years. To spur a global recovery that leaves no one behind, we call for a second World Summit for Social Development.
According to Club of Madrid, the pandemic has created “opportunities” for international cooperation that can mitigate the effects and produce “an inclusive recovery”. The familiar mantra “Build Back Better” echoes in the background. Appropriately enough, Türk is a member of the UN High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism which means an opportunity to take a position on its own proposal. This also applies to the panel’s co-chair, Liberia’s former President and Club of Madrid member Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The proposal, Transforming Multilateralism for 21st Century Social Justice and Inclusion, was in turn developed by a working group led by Sarah Burke of the German Social Democratic think tank Friedrich Ebert Foundation and came in response to the pandemic’s impact on the weakest in society. The working group included, along with representatives from World Bank, Brookings Institution, International Labor Organization, OECD, the Indian economist Jayati Ghosh (Professor at Massachusetts Amherst University). She is also a member of the UN panel.
The organiser together with the Club of Madrid was the German Bertelsmann Stiftung with the World Economic Forum and the UN as institutional partners.As usual, we must be saved by the same forces that caused the damage to begin with. This is even clearer regarding the next goal – Protect Our Planet – which I will address in the next post.
Jacob Nordangård, PhD Science & Technology Studies
This is second article in the 13-part series about the 12 commitments in Our Common Agenda.
© Stiftelsen Pharos 2022. May not be republished without permission (contact us) but feel free to share.
 Bolling, Anders (2015), ”Johan Rockström är miljörörelsens egen Piketty”, artikel i Dagens Nyheter 4 september 2015, https://www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/johan-rockstrom-ar-miljororelsens-egen-piketty/
 Cramer, Aron (2022), ”Why we need a new social contract for the 21st century”, The Davos Agenda, World Economic Forum, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/01/a-new-social-contract-for-21st-century/
 World Economic Forum (2013), Global Agenda Council on Values – A New Social Covenant, https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GAC_Values_2013.pdf
 World Economic Forum (2015), Toolkit on a New Social Covenant, Global Agenda Council on Values, http://anewsocialcovenant.org/static/pdfs/wef-new-social-covenant-toolkit-global.pdf
 World Economic Forum (2015), The New Social Covenant, Report, https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GAC_NewSocialCovenant_Report_2014.pdf
 Schwab, Klaus (2018), Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Portfolio Penguin
 World Economic Forum (2018), Identity in a Digital World – A new chapter in the social contract, https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_INSIGHT_REPORT_Digital%20Identity.pdf
 Makortoff, Kayleena (2020), Barclays using ‘Big Brother’ tactics to spy on staff, says TUC, artikel i The Guradian 20 februari 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/feb/20/barlays-using-dytopian-big-brother-tactics-to-spy-on-staff-says-tuc
 World Summit for Social Development hölls i Köpenhamn 1995.
 Club of Madrid (2021), Time for a second World Summit för Social Development. Lets leave no one behind after COVID-19, https://www.clubmadrid.org/time-for-a-second-world-summit-for-social-development-lets-leave-no-one-behind-after-covid-19/
 Club of Madrid (2020), Transforming Multilateralism For 21st Century Social Justice and Inclusion. Brief for Working Group On Social Justice and Inclusion, http://www.clubmadrid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Transforming-Multilateralism-for-21st-Century-Social-Justice-and-Inclusion-1.pdf