The Global Challenges Foundation
The global challenges foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of global catastrophic risk and the global governance necessary to handle these risks. It seeks to examine old and new models for the development of the United Nations and initiate new ideas for effective global governance.
The foundation’s main focus is on three interconnected risks – climate change, large-scale environmental damage, and weapons of mass destruction – and the underlying forces that amplify their likelihood and impact, namely extreme poverty and population growth.
The Global Challenges Prize
The Global Challenges Prize is a $5 million competition administered by the Global Challenges Foundation. The prize seeks proposals for new decision-making structures that can galvanise effective international action on global catastrophic risks. The foundation was created in 2012 with a donation from Swedish billionaire Laszlo Szombatfalvy.
The Foundation also administers the Global Challenges Research Fund, a PS1.5 billion programme to support cutting-edge research that tackles the major global challenges facing humanity. Its three main areas of focus are climate change and other environmental degradation, poverty and politically motivated violence.
The foundation also sponsors a range of teaching awards and other initiatives. For example, it provides the Global Challenges Teaching Award in pandemics, which allows faculty at US and UK universities to take part in a virtual exchange programme on the subject. The foundation also hosts privacy-preserving federated learning challenges, which allow artificial intelligence models to be trained on sensitive data without sharing or combining raw information.
The Global Challenges Research Fund
GCRF is the government’s flagship fund for research into global challenges. Its stated purpose is to support research that will contribute to minimising and ideally eliminating the major global risks to humanity. This is done in two ways: by promoting awareness and discussion of these risks; and by stimulating thinking about decision systems that would be better equipped to manage them.
Currently, a broad spectrum of research is funded by the GCRF and its Collective Funds. The Fund also provides funding to the four UK Higher Education funding councils, which allocate this to research institutions on a competitive basis.
When designing the GCRF, BEIS adopted a governance model close to that of the Newton Fund, which it manages, and it equated the scope of research to the definition of Official Development Assistance (ODA). Consequently, the Fund’s strategic direction remains unclear and its assessment processes do not sufficiently distinguish between discovery and translational research, or identify high-priority and high-impact areas of work.
The Global Challenges Forum
The Global Challenges Forum is administered by a partnership of partner organizations comprising military and police, academia and think tanks from all continents. The partnership provides a range of seminars, workshops and conferences as well as studies and reports on international peace operations. The work contributes to concept and doctrine development and helps build trust amongst stakeholders – particularly in the area of leadership.
It also provides a platform for discussing, shaping and generating solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges, such as recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and Putin’s war on Ukraine, preventing climate change catastrophes and global food security crises, or ensuring inclusive economic growth.
The foundation carries out continual research to identify and determine the major global threats to humanity and invests in forward thinking projects with the goal of minimizing or preferably eliminating these risks. This work is conducted through a board and an executive team. Founder Laszlo Szombatfalvy is the chairman of the board . Fredrik Karlsson leads the secretariat.
The Global Challenges Reports
As humans we face many global challenges, from climate change to pandemics. These threats are not independent of one another, and in many cases they can interact with each other and amplify their effects. They also affect our quality of life and our ability to make progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.
The foundation does continual research to determine the world’s largest risks and finds ways to tackle them. They work to bring people together to collaborate and create a better future for everyone.
The foundation works to promote interdisciplinary research by establishing global challenges research hubs, which can support and encourage innovation and collaboration across disciplines. They also run a competition called the global challenge prizes, where individuals or groups can pitch innovative ideas to tackle emerging global challenges. They have already raised over $100 million in just four years. This has funded a number of projects that are tackling some of the world’s most important problems.