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The Age of Massive Global Changes

The Age of Massive Global Changes

By: Munir-uz-Zaman

Fundamental changes are taking place in the international system at a rapid pace. In fact, past 20 years have seen more changes than in the previous 200 years of world history. These changes are all-encompassing and span many spectra, including geostrategic, political, economic and societal.

A significant change is taking place in the geo-strategic space; we are witnessing the rise of new powers. We are indeed in a moment of transition: from a unipolar to a multipolar world. The rise of the East has brought forth new economic powers like China, regional powers such as India, and power blocs like BRICS, EU and ASEAN. This transformation has also brought forth geo-maritime strategies like the Belt and Road Initiative and the Indo-Pacific Strategy which can prove to be competitive, and even confrontational, in the near future.

In the political arena, this shift has been towards the exercise of rights and increased political aspirations. With the state gradually losing its exclusivity over information, the civil society has risen across the globe. All this, however, is under threat as we are now witnessing a surge in nationalism and chauvinism. This has also given birth to more authoritarian regimes such as those in Turkey and Central African Republic and the growth of hybrid democracies like in Cambodia. Rapid transformation in the economic realm has brought forth benefits of globalization, and market mobility has opened up enormous opportunities for people. At the same time, it has also invited gross income inequality which has sowed the seeds of discontent amongst people throughout the world.

Perhaps, one of the most volatile arenas of change has been in the field of environment and climate change. As human-induced conditions continue to trigger global temperature rise, the risks of food, water and health, as well as those of livelihood insecurity are at their peak. One of the most significant resultant impacts of climate change will be large-scale displacements of populations. With certain possibility of rising sea levels, millions of people will become climate refugees, causing social upheaval and even inter-state conflict.

We are also at a moment of transition when it comes to energy since we are trying to move away from fossil fuel dependency to a non-carbon economy. There is thus the possibility of wide-scale transformation in the energy sector with cleaner, renewable energy now being a priority. This is not an easy transformation and, if not managed well, it might cause massive socio-economic disruptions.

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