Keystone Conference: Megatrends for Mediators in Governance

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25 Year Megatrends in Governance (20,000 ft view)

General trends (next 10 years):

“Tectonic shifts in the boundaries of the state”
Don Kettl

  • Continued “hollowing out” or “retreat” of the state with increasing reduction or privatization of governmental functions
  • Continued decline in domestic government spending and GDP (as security concerns and international crises dominate)
  • Stronger protections of private property and reduced investments in public goods
  • Continued decline in trust of public institutions and accelerated demand for accountability in public decision making
  • Emergence of new crossboundary/intergovernmental/public-private institutional mechanisms

Alternative or serial longer term trajectories at the national level:

  • Continue to “muddle through”
  • Evolution of public/private governing networks for service delivery, emergency mgt, and environmental enforcement (e.g., e-governance models, Gates and Buffet philanthropy)
  • Major crisis (security/fiscal/climatic/constitutional) and resurgence of the social welfare state (a new New Deal)
  • Globalization -> stronger regional (multi-state) alliances for trade, environmental protection, emergency management, social services (could lead to new sectionalism)
  • Re-entry into world governance structures for trade, security, pandemics, climate change, disaster relief and relocation of environmental refugees


Emergence of collaborative leadership: that out of the void or necessity or crisis, a new generation of committed, more diverse public leaders demand and deliver new collaborative governance models to address critical shared problems.


Kirk Emerson

Kirk Emerson was appointed Director of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution in 1998 by the Board of Trustees of the Morris K. Udall Foundation. She has overseen the strategic direction, organizational development and program administration of the Institute since its inception. She is responsible for the overall performance… MORE >

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