Worlds in Transition

Worlds in Transition

Evolving Governance Across a Stressed Planet

Joseph A. Camilleri and Jim Falk

The book’s detailed analysis of five strategic sectors (economy, environment, health, information and security) points to an intricate and rapidly evolving interplay of geopolitical, cultural and ecological spaces. It shows that the normative ethos and politico-legal institutions of the modern epoch are gradually being eroded. Despite competing trends and countertrends the authors discern the slow, at times ambiguous, often contentious but unmistakable emergence over the last several decades of a new governance regime, one which is striving for a leap in human reflexivity in response to the challenges of a stressed world that is simultaneously singular and plural.

Chapter 9: Governance, Pathogens and Human Health

Joseph A. Camilleri and Jim Falk

Subjects: politics and public policy, international politics, regulation and governance


No examination of the evolutionary trajectory of the human species and the implications for governance would be complete without reference to the evolving capacity of humans to satisfy one of their most important biological needs, namely health. Whereas, as we discuss below, both the definition of health and its relationship to human adaptation may be less direct than is sometimes supposed, it is clear that the two concepts are closely linked. In crude terms, a healthy society is likely to be more resilient, hence more able to adapt, especially in the face of biological challenges. This chapter examines how health has emerged as a critical factor in the challenge–response dynamic during the current period of transition. Health has stood as a valued goal throughout human history, as can be seen in the primitive practices of tribal societies, the urban planning of the Roman Empire, elaborate medical practices in both Roman and Greek civilisations, and in the contemporary complex health systems and celebration of fitness, diet and medicine. In the twentieth century, improved availability of nutritious food, growth in understanding and implementation of public health measures, including better sanitation and rapid developments in medical and biological science, created a cultural transformation in which a more or less healthy (or at least longer) life for many (although not all) in the industrialised world became, as Kickbusch and Payne put it, ‘a demographic fact, a societal goal, and a personal expectation.’1 In the post-1945 period, universal access to at least a basic...

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