It’s very rare I write about anything to do with geopolitics, in fact it’s currently rare that I write about anything other than risk/reinsurance over at Artemis.bm, but a paper I read this morning has got me thinking and in an effort to do more personal blogging here we go.
The paper (hat tip to Noah Raford for leading me to it, follow him, he tweets interesting stuff if you’re into future trends) is a 2008 publication by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) on global strategic trends looking out to 2040.
Being a few years old now this paper has some scarily accurate forecasts of the way that geopolitical power shift would begin to manifest itself and the balance of power would migrate East. It covers all of the geopolitical and developmental issues you’d expect; food security, health, radicalisation, climate change, cyberspace, space, resource shortages etc.
There’s a very good paragraph in the executive summary which helps to sum up the challenges that we as humans will face as we move towards 2040. Forget about the defence angle of this paper and focus on it as a futures piece laying bare some of the significant issues that the world needs to come to terms with:
The era out to 2040 will be a time of transition; this is likely to be characterised by instability, both in the relations between states, and in the relations between groups within states. During this timeframe the world is likely to face the reality of a changing climate, rapid population growth, resource scarcity, resurgence in ideology, and shifts in global power from West to East. No state, group or individual can meet these challenges in isolation, only collective responses will be sufficient. Hence, the struggle to establish an effective system of global governance, capable of responding to these challenges, will be a central theme of the era.
So it calls for a global view to tackle these issues. But the problem I see, four years after this paper was published, is that where the world is trying to create governance to address potential conflicting opinions and viewpoints, the ‘global’ aspect of it is strongly biased towards centres of power and finance. This is not really global, certainly isn’t inclusive and given the fact decisions are taken by the few, behind closed doors and with little input from citizens, it really isn’t being addressed in a social manner either.
The term ‘global governance’ just smacks of establishments like the EU, NATO, UN, government level decision-making and other forums that average citizens, business people and those who can really express nations interests most accurately aren’t included in. I believe we need a ‘socially inclusive governance’ approach to address these global geopolitical, change related issues correctly.
It is absolutely no use putting these types of issues in the hands of governments alone, we increasingly recognise how out-of-touch with their electorates they are. Likewise consortia of governments like the EU are perhaps one step even further removed from their electorates to really address these inherently social issues and tend not to include developing nations as equals. Corporations should equally not hold the power in the way we organise ourselves for the future as they have unique sets of needs, which should be heard but cannot be the loudest voices.
Issues which affect our future need to be thought through and addressed with input from society at large, hence ‘socially inclusive governance’ seems an appropriate term for what is really needed.
This ‘struggle to establish an effective system of global governance‘ has begun and is being played out most clearly in the EU right now as the Eurozone grapples with debt, austerity and increasing social unrest. Just watching that play out shows the lack of inclusion as we see Greece being over-ruled, Catalonians voting for independence from Spain and austerity impacting Italy, Portugal, UK and Ireland. In none of those countries do the population feel like they are included in the key decisions that are being made that will shape their futures. That doesn’t feel right.
I have no answers, other than to say that social governance seems to be dominated by money and authority at the moment, what’s missing is the voice of individuals (normal people) and that really makes it inherently un-social. This is something that has been occupying more of my thinking in recent months. I suspect I might write more about it in the future, if I can get my personal blogging mojo back on track.
There’s an interesting paper here you should read on making social governance more inclusive by including individuals and citizens to make it a three-pillar process, if you’re interested. The graphic below from that paper shows what has become a fairly accepted way of thinking.
Integrating the voice of normal people into decisions on social governance seems like the only way the world can truly prepare itself for the future ahead. My best advice at this time is to go out and find interesting and inspiring people to read, listen to, meet and discuss these issues with. Then when you’ve formed a viewpoint do what you can to be heard. Take a look at my Twitter feed or at the people I follow and you’ll find a good few people who share a view of a more socially inclusive future for us all.
The paper from the MoD is definitely worth a read if you have any interest in future trends, globalisation and geopolitics, it’s just lacking any answers that feel inclusive.