Advancing State-Building for the Global Majority: Insights from diverse local perspectives


The event’s panel to discuss how issues of race, class and coloniality intersect with IIPP’s practice-based theorising of new economic thinking in the context of the Global Majority.

By Joao Pedro Loureiro Braga

On Tuesday the 19th of March, the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) convened a research panel to scrutinise one particular challenge confronting nations within the global majority: conciliating entrepreneurial state-building strategies characterised by humanised mission-oriented policies. In context of intricate global dynamics, the panellists were challenged to transcend traditional economic paradigms concerning the role of the State, notably the dichotomy between state and market and to advocate instead for a more comprehensive approach to development. Opening up the debate, IIPP Professor Damon Silvers inaugurated the discussion with a critical examination of historical antecedents that continue to shape state structures in the global majority. His inquiry explored three principal spheres: the distinctive historical trajectories of countries and their state-building endeavours, repositioning the centre of analysis from the global north to the periphery of the system, and the divergent paths taken by coloniser and colonised states.

IIPP’s Associate Professor in Economics Carolina Alves introducing the panel

The first of the speakers, IIPP’s Research Fellow Jenny Nguyen’s contribution focused on Shifting the Narrative on the role of the State. It underscored the significance of narrative reframing in redefining public value within the context of state building. Drawing upon case studies from Vietnam and Bangladesh, emphasis was placed on the pivotal role of public organisations in aligning their public mandates while fostering innovation to address pressing societal needs. After Jenny, IIPP PhD student Nai Kalema explored the still significant Colonial Legacies in the Digital Era. Nai also delved into the enduring influence of colonial legacies on contemporary challenges encountered by developing nations in the digital transition. Using illustrative examples from Kenya and Uganda, attention was drawn to the convergence of surveillance states and data colonialism, underscoring the imperative of grassroots movements in decolonising industrial and digital policies.

Following Nai, IIPP PhD student João Braga’s intervention focused on the link between sustainable development and climate justice. It spotlighted Brazil’s intricate relationship with the Amazon Rainforest, advocating for a ‘Just Amazonian Transition’ to reconcile economic development with bottom-up environmental preservation initiatives. By pointing to the financial networks underpinning deforestation, he underscored the key role of the banking system to govern and redirect finance to safeguard biodiversity-rich regions. The last of the panellists, IIPP Postdoctoral Researcher Mariam Zaqout’s contribution focused on Water Accessibility as a challenge in Global Governance. It shed light on the challenges surrounding water accessibility and governance, particularly in the context of basic infrastructure financing. Despite its status as a global public good, she highlighted the marginalisation of water issues within political agendas, emphasising the need for humanised missions and mission-oriented policies to address this pressing and basic right.

The last part of the evening where the panel took questions from the audience

In her concluding remarks, IIPP Professor Carolina Alves reiterated the importance of situating policy formulation within historical frameworks, recognizing the agency of nations in pursuing their own missions. By transcending historical cycles perpetuated by violence, nations within the global majority can assert their autonomy and chart a trajectory towards sustainable development. This idea was echoed by UCL Professor Julius Mugwagwa, who emphasised the significance of historical context in unpacking narratives informing missions. He highlighted the importance of recognizing that historical context itself is laden with respect to represented voices and paradigms, and underscored the role of contestation and agency in shaping sociotechnical imaginaries.

All in all, the panellists introduced a critical perspective on the challenges that the Global Majority States face when choosing and implementing missions. Through the participants and the audience’s research and policy work, these insights will continue to shape IIPP’s practice of new economic thinking. Through initiatives that prioritise humanised missions within entrepreneurial states, nations within the global majority can help create a more prosperous future for all.

You can watch the recording here:



UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose

Changing how the state is imagined, practiced and evaluated to tackle societal challenges | Director: Mariana Mazzucato