Centre for Global Negotiations

The Brandt Equation: 21st Century Blueprint for a New Global Economy


"A new century nears, and with it the prospects of a new civilization. Could we not begin to lay the basis for that new community with reasonable relations among all people and nations, and to build a world in which sharing, justice, freedom and peace might prevail?"

–Willy Brandt, 1983

Two decades ago, the Brandt Commission reports, North-South and Common Crisis offered the international community a forward-looking plan for balancing the creation of wealth with the provision of public goods and the preservation of the environment.

Willy Brandt's panel of international leaders represented a breadth of expert viewpoints crossing every spectrum – geographic and economic, political and idealogical. They produced the first agreement ever by influential statesmen and leaders from developed and developing nations on restructuring the world economy.

In the best-selling books on international development in history, the Brandt Commission set out a comprehensive strategy for food, aid, environment, trade, finance and monetary reform – as well as global negotiations to implement those objectives.

These measures would enable developing nations to become equal trading partners with developed nations, thereby raising global demand for goods and services and reducing world unemployment.

In 1980, seven years before the publication of the Brundtland Report Our Common Future, the Brandt Commission proposed "that in the long run countries have to strengthen their capability to sustain development through structural transformation" (North-South, 63), and called for "an orderly transition from a world economy and industry based on oil, to one that can be sustained through renewable sources of energy" (N-S, 169). "Our survival," declared Brandt, "depends not only on military balance, but on global cooperation to ensure a sustainable biological environment, and sustainable prosperity based on equitably shared resources" (N-S, 124).

Although the Brandt Commission identified and linked together the major global development issues, it took twenty years for the world community to quantify them. The Millennium Development Goals, generated by the United Nations in 2000, now provide specific, measurable targets for international development. But there is little in the Millennium Development Goals that the Brandt Report had not already proposed, however broadly.

UN Millennium Development Goals
North-South: A Programme
for Survival
(Page References)

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger 15-17; 90-104
  2. Achieve universal primary education 57-58
  3. Promote gender equality and empower       women 59-62
  4. Reduce child mortality 39; 54-56
  5. Improve maternal health 62; 106-108
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS*, malaria and other       diseases 14; 54-56; 78-83
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability 48-58; 78-89; 113-115; 160-171
  8. Develop a Global Partnership for       Development 20-29; 64-77; 237-256
HIV/AIDS was not identified until 1982   

The Brandt Equation reintroduces the Brandt Commission's vision for a sustainable global economy. It stresses that the fortunes of global society are more encompassing than the fortunes of any individual, group or nation for debt or solvency, for depression or prosperity, for wars of redistribution or for peace.

What is missing is simply prudent management of earth's own budget a willingness to share responsibility and power among nations to fulfill common needs, ensure the right of personal livelihood, improve living standards and guarantee the well-being of global society.

The Brandt Equation calls for a full-scale reordering of global priorities to meet humanity's interrelated economic problems and development needs. It is a blueprint for the twenty-first century economy, a definite course of action to renew the foundations of money and commerce, allowing global economic policies, structures and systems to serve the public interest, instead of people and their environment serving globalization.

Sources of information for The Brandt Equation are the Brandt Reports, the report of the Independent Commission on Global Governance, World Bank and International Monetary Fund papers, United Nations Development Program reports, OECD surveys, Bank for International Settlements documents, and US Labor Department and Federal Reserve data.

The Brandt Equation © 2002-2007 by James Bernard Quilligan.
Grateful acknowledgement is extended to MIT Press for permission
to use published material from North-South and Common Crisis,
and to the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN/DPI)
and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for the use of photographs.

Centre for Global Negotiations, Copyright © 2007