From policy coherence to 21st century convergence: a whole-of-society paradigm of human and economic development
The 20th century saw accelerated human and economic development, with increased convergence in income, wealth, and living standards around the world. For a large part, owing to the well-entrenched Western-centric linear and siloed industrialization pattern, this positive transformation has also been associated with complex societal challenges at the nexus of agricultural, industrial, and health sectors. Efforts at cross-sectoral policy coherence have been deployed with limited success. To go beyond what has been possible thus far, the whole-of-society (WoS) paradigm for human and economic development proposes a 21st century convergence where, instead of the rest (of the world) converging with the West, sectoral and cross-sectoral efforts converge in their single and collective policy and action on a common target of human and economic development. In this paper, we first review and discuss contributions and limitations of policy coherence approaches. We then elaborate the institutional foundation of the WoS paradigm, taking as an anchor the well-established model of polycentric governance that views individuals, and state, market, and community, forming society as part of the same complex adaptive system. Actors within such systems self-organize into nested hierarchies that operate at multiple scales and move toward 21st century convergence of human and economic development.
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