« Is the world sleepwalking into a crisis?” This is how the 2019 Global Risk Report starts its summary of the global risks hovering over our planet as seen by chief economists at the World Economic Forum. And this is probably one of the most alarming yet truthful apologies we have ever been confronted with. Yet the stakes are high, at best. The report highlights that 60% of the global risks with both the highest likelihood and the highest impact are related to human-induced climate change. The remaining 40% most likely to hit are technological risks pertaining to cyber-security, data theft and fraud. Failing to mitigate those risks can present an inflection point in mankind’s history. Researchers have set the 2°C threshold for containable damage. Scientists claim that we have trespassed “planetary boundaries” and that we run short of time.
With the acceleration of industry 4.0 and the widening divide it creates between rich and poor countries, global inequality will be on a rise. Migration, poverty and exclusion increase public distrust, pushing for further populism and centroid policies.
But, it seems like there is a way out of this global trouble. And this way is exactly the opposite of what we’re seeing in protectionist regimes. Economists introduced the concept of Globalization 4.0 whereby transnational cooperation for planetary benefit overtakes the narrow view of national interests. In a scheme of an international shared vision, nations are called to join hands in collective action to create fair trade in a safe planet where human beings have equal chances of leading a decent life. Now, theory is good, and even strongly inspirational. But there is a big question which remains unanswered: “who gets their hands in first?” China, who claims its right to mass industrialization after a long era of economic faintness? Europe, who is divided between achieving the sustainability transition and safeguarding economic supremacy? Or the United States where the word ‘climate change’ is taboo in the Oval Office?
In this global geopolitical disorder where economic predation fuels political ambitions, the voices of weak stakeholders can have a weight. When political systems fail, consumers, scientists and business people must act as responsible individuals who owe a debt of gratitude to the planet. For neither false discourses nor disguised handshakes will stop the roar of the chaos ahead.