faculty & experts
07 May 2021

The role of youth and academia in the redesign of multilateralism

On the occasion of the International Day of Multilateralism, Marie-Laure Salles, Director of the Graduate Institute, analysed the role of youth and academia in the redesign of multilateralism, in conversation with Francesco Pisano, Director of the United Nations Library & Archives Geneva.

While we are witnessing the transformation of the global geopolitical order, the need for multilateralism has never been more important, according to Marie-Laure Salles. However, it requires reinvention in order to face today’s global challenges. She stressed that we should involve younger generations in that process of reinvention – not only because they own the future but also because they are likely to bring uniquely different and creative perspectives to the drawing board.

The role of the Graduate Institute and other academic institutions is to open creative spaces for diverse communities and to foster the understanding, engagement and sense of responsibility essential to the emergence of reinvented solutions to problems that are not problems of the future, but very much disturbing realities of today. The current context implies that our students need to develop competencies allowing them to act and decide under radical uncertainty, to engage with and understand systemic complexity, and to build strong patterns of efficient interdependence, without which we won’t be able to effectively face global challenges.

In order to adapt to the challenges and realities of today’s world, while remaining coherent with its historical identity, the Graduate Institute also needs to reinvent itself for the coming decades. A new charter, outlining our redefined identity, has been co-constructed with the broad community of the Institute – our faculty, students, staff, alumni and board members.  

The Institute needs to build, even more, on multilateral interdependence present in the heart of Geneva in order to keep producing relevant knowledge in the years to come. Marie-Laure Salles believes that Geneva is in a unique position to contribute to the redesign of multilateralism given its diverse ecosystem of actors. She stressed the importance of a co-production of knowledge with those actors and the younger generations.