Baltimore — At first they seem isolated initiatives:
* A former World Bank president proposes a new super-bank to stabilize the world economy.
* A Canadian teams up with an Indian to form a global communications network by which some 1,000 development workers in 50 countries can pool ideas.
* A Japanese economist sets up a global network of parliamentarians in 144 countries to collaborate on population problems.
* An American proposed to link up newspapers across the United States with sources of news from developing countries.
Although each initiative has emerged quite independently of the others, they all reflect a new quest of a growing class of global thinkers. Concerned that the ''established'' international institutions are not moving fast enough to deal with the rising world problems of hunger, poverty, and overpopulation, these globalists have been cooking up alternatives to get things moving.
Dozens of quietly emerging ''alternatives in global cooperation'' have been going public in recent weeks. Some took their bow before a recent 25th anniversary gathering of the Society for International Development (SID) in Baltimore. More were introduced at the World Future Society's conference last month on global communications.
The quest for alternatives comes at a time when many developmentalists have reached near despair over: the tightening of world trade just as poor countries need more trade, the trend of nations to act as loners at a time when teamwork may be the only solution to global recession, deadlocks in the United Nations over the poor countries' demands for a bigger share of Earth's wealth.
But the deadlocks, for all their frustration, have precipitated experimentation in the unconventional, nonbureaucratic space between the formal governments and the United Nations. If these ''world-integrating alternatives'' succeed, the globalists contend, they could counterbalance the nationalism and parochialism pulling nations and regions apart.
The proposal for a new central international bank, for instance, reflects the growing search for some urgently needed ''glue'' to hold together the world economy.
Dozens of third-world banks are in crisis due to the drying up of money sources in rich countries. As conceived by former World Bank president Robert McNamara, a central international banking facility could be used as a ''last resort tool'' to prevent a world-destabilizing wave of bank cave-ins. The idea had surfaced before in developing countries. But now for the first time it is getting support from an American thinker of global reknown.
The so-called Global Futures Network, based jointly in Toronto and Bombay, is one of many new organizations using high-tech communications to allow developmentalists in different countries to share insights -- and to do it without the political strings that have traditionally limited such sharing.
Indian Rashmi Mayur in the Bombay office, for instance, plans to videotape an instruction program for his new metal-less ''biogas'' invention. The device converts animal waste into cooking fuel -- a handy remedy for third-world energy needs. He and colleague Frank Feather in Toronto will soon make the instruction program available over their network to planners in Nigeria, Guatemala, Indonesia, Uganda, and Kenya.
Other networks are linking up analysts to deal with specific development problems.
Akio Matsumora, a Japanese economist and former UN official, has linked parliamentarians in 144 countries who are concerned about population problems.
The Asian regional meeting, held last year in Peking, was a rare example of dialogue between most all Asian leaders. North and South Americans meet in December in Brazil.
American Brennon Jones is proposing to link North America with third-world news sources, seeking to redress criticism that US news media do not take the problems of developing peoples seriously enough.
No one expects the alternatives to put a miraculous end to poverty and hunger. But if the globalists' gatherings are any indication, there will be a lot more experimentation with alternatives.