Strengthening governance organizations that transcend national boundaries will be key to solving issues that have resulted from globalization, according to Joaquin Almunia, former vice president of the European Commission during a visit to a government class on the global political economy.

In a lecture focused on the future of globalization and multilateral organizations, Almunia told Professor and Vice Provost Sebastián Royo’s class that so-called supranational organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, and the United Nations have their flaws, but they can play an important role in addressing climate change, poverty, inequality, and many other global issues.

Globalization has served as a powerful engine of change that has improved social and political situations in many countries and reduced poverty for millions of people around the world, Almunia said. It’s allowed for the spread of freedom and democratic ideas. But it also has had negative effects, including growth in income inequality, migration issues pandemics, the rise of terrorist networks, data protection issues, and the increased complexity of global governance.

While globalization has increased the scope of problems around the world, political authority in many cases remains limited to nation states, which cannot tackle the biggest challenges alone, even when cooperating. Almunia said global governance is challenging, but it is badly needed because politicians and leaders do not have the mechanisms to address globalization’s rapid changes at the national level.

Almunia, who received an honorary degree from Suffolk University also is a former leader of Spain’s Socialist Workers’ Party and member of the Spanish Parliament. He is the founder and director of the progressive think tank “Laboratorio de Ideas” and is currently a research scholar at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University. Almunia holds degrees in economics and law from the University of Deusto and the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes respectively and completed a senior manager program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

—Carol Q. Leon