The stability of international relations is highly valued, but sometimes difficult to achieve. Ups and downs are normal in every relationship, between individuals as well as between States. When we look at the transatlantic relations today, either the relations between Germany and the USA or between the EU and North America, sometimes governments have very opposing ways to deal with common challenges.
One of the questions that international relations pose is how to find new approaches to improve them in times of difficulties. There are many ways to strengthen ties, yet, they are not necessarily based on political or governmental relations. When only one government plays a zero-sum game, the other one is likely to lose. Therefore, it might be an advantage to find a more informal way to tighten the ties between countries. Informal ways could include actors from society, like civil society organizations, economic actors, academic institutions or individuals.
For the purpose of proposing an idea that could strengthen the transatlantic economic relations in an inclusive manner, we thought about a way to foster cooperation between North American and European companies, that would also include political actors, academia and representatives from the civil society. We propose to challenge transatlantic relations and to break them down to a societal level when it comes to climate change. The overall objective for the concept would be to boost a common ecological agenda between Germany and the US, that has the potential to be further elaborated by involving players from other regions.
Forums for environmental cooperation, for example the Ecologic Institute, that is present in Berlin and Washington DC, already exist. They want to enhance economic relations between the EU and the USA in the ecological sector. An institution with a similar goal is the Transatlantic Climate Bridge Initiative that has been created to facilitate exchange and national investments in the climate change and energy sector in each respective country, without crossovers. Those organizations, that are based on governmental initiatives from 2008, provide frameworks and rules to promote a transatlantic cooperation in the green sector. Their aim is to include actors from the entire society and to facilitate the exchange between stakeholders of a “green” world.
Our proposal is to take a different approach by creating an economic forum, Green New Deal 2.0, that would principally include businesses, from start-ups to multinationals, on a voluntary basis. Additionally, representatives of governments, academia and the civil society could be present in a purely consultative role to express non-binding suggestions.
The heart of Green New Deal 2.0 would be a R&D fund diverse companies would contribute to by spending a percentage of their R&D costs yearly. The presence of diverse industries would demand to break the forum down in smaller entities. Consequently, the organization would establish committees with distinct companies’ representatives for each sector. Then, the fund would allocate an equal amount of money to the diverse represented sectors and call for applications to solve problems, defined by each committee, that concern each sector through ecological approaches. Subsequently, companies that plan to solve the specific problem in a specific period (up to five years) will hand in their proposals. After that, each sector will choose several projects (up to three). We suggest that more than one project should be supported because there are uncertainties. A project might fail, even though the idea initially seemed reasonable and logical. There is also the danger of bad faith, i.e. a business might take a challenge without disclosing their documents in a transparent manner, which would make them subject to exclusion.
Governmental, academic and civil society representatives would join the committees by commenting on current and future challenges which will help the decision-making process for allocating money to proposals. The chosen projects will be funded by the forum’s resources during the ongoing time. Participating companies should present their progress quarterly, which gives room for improvements if needed. Having completed a challenge, a company will grant access to its solution. That would compensate all participants for their fund-contributions.
In sum, a forum enhancing the exchange about climate change-related issues would benefit the participating companies, but also the global society. More investments in research would permit diverse businesses to adapt to current and future challenges which they will face either way. By promoting joint actions, the participants in the New Green Deal 2.0 would prove that they care, for their company, for the future, for innovation and for an open-minded approach towards cooperation. A particularly nice aspect would be to bring together big companies that have much experience, with small enterprises and new start-ups that might be full of innovation. At first, it might be difficult to abandon one’s individual stand as a purely profit-oriented entity. However, the advantages and gains that the forum would offer have the potential to mitigate possible threats. Yet, participants need to show strong ethics and compliance and must truly envisage common gains instead of individual ones.
If the forum could be established under the auspices of the transatlantic relations, it would enhance the intercultural economic and communications exchange and strengthen ties between companies that informally promote the relations. It would provide an access to R&D investments for small and medium sized enterprises and start-ups, that may have great ideas but less means to explore them. Long-lasting cooperation could be created. Furthermore, businesses would find new solutions to problems in a common way. Making the results a common good will grant companies an easy access and accelerate the green transition. The inclusive approach guarantees all participants the option to apply new standards and technologies. Thinking further, the forum could include actors from developing countries, which would result in making the world a greener, environmentally more healthful and, thus, more peaceful place. Thinking still further, the forum could be used as a prototype for creating similar cooperative forums all over the world.