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RISK 2020:

Our World in the Next Decade

Publication by KCL Geopolitical Risk Society

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KCL Geopolitical Risk Society Forecast Report

Published January 2020

foreword O

n behalf of the KCL Geopolitical Risk Society, we would like to say a special thank you to everyone who contributed to our Risk 2020 Report. We are proud to launch our second report dedicated to risk and forecasting at King’s College London. This report covers issues on 10 geopolitical trends of the next decade, and it aims to make an informed analysis on how certain risks may have wider implications on our society at large. KCL GPRIS is the only student society dedicated solely to intelligence, political, environmental and financial risk at King’s College London. We aim to inform our members and the general student body on a range of topics, and explore how risk can be identified, analyzed, and managed by governments, corporations, and other stakeholders. Our mission is reflected in the production of this report. We are incredibly honored to be able to have such a passionate and inspiring group of members, and to launch a report with such high quality and rigorous contributions. We are confident that our writers will be tomorrow’s experts and leaders in their chosen fields, and we hope this project was the first of many in the area of risk analysis and forecasting. We hope that this project will continue to inspire other societies and students to engage with the field of geopolitical risk. A special thank you to our GPRIS committee, in particular our design expert Marcus Lim Tao Mox. Thank you for making this project possible!

Ingrid Udd Sundvor President, King's College London Geopolitical Risk Society

William Marshall

Vice President, King's College London Geopolitical Risk Society & Editor-in-Chief of KCL GPRIS Risk Report 2020

Copyright © King's College London Geopolitical Risk Society All rights reserved. Published January 2020 Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in this report are those of the authors only. They do not reflect the opinions or views of KCL GPRIS as a society nor GPRIS committee members.



Who are we? KCL Geopolitical Risk Society is the only student society dedicated solely to intelligence and political, security, environmental and financial risk at King’s College London and is one of the only societies of its type in the UK. Our aim is simple. To educate GPRIS members on how political and security risks affect business, NGOs, investors, and society at large. From the ramifications of human rights violations in Xinjiang on sales of tech start-ups in Silicon Valley to the impact of extreme temperature variations in the Peruvian Andes on coffee prices in UK supermarkets, geopolitical risk is all around us in today’s increasingly interconnected world. At GPRIS we have a passion for exploring how risk is identified, analysed, and managed by governments, corporations, NGOs and other stakeholders at all levels from the local to global. Through our offering of speaker panels, networking events, and workshops, we create an environment of opportunity by connecting passionate students with experts in this booming industry.

Risk 2020 Welcome to KCL Geopolitical Risk Society’s second annual risk report. Building on the success of KCL GPRIS’s inaugural Risk 2019 Report, this year’s edition has an even more ambitious goal – to forecast the immense geopolitical shifts which will transform our world in the coming decade. Risk 2020 is an ambitious project, seeking to draw together the expert insights of KCL GPRIS’s executive committee, staff writers and society members on the key macrotrends shaping global geopolitics in the decade leading up to 2030. The collection of articles below illustrates the broad range of emerging threats, from the new frontiers of Space and Artificial Intelligence to the resurgence of a revanchist Russia and the inexorable rise of China, which our generation – the leaders, policymakers, influencers and change-makers of tomorrow are likely to confront as they emerge into this brave new world.


KCL Geopolitical Risk Society Forecast Report

Published January 2020

THE WORLD IN 2030 King's College London Geopolitical Risk Society Risk Forecast Report 2020

North Pole 06 The Simon Gioia

Democratic Recession 18 The Anastasia Chisholm

08 Space Dominic McClaran

Change 20 Climate Luke Stewart

10 Russia Aksel Isaksson

22 China Brynn O'Connell

12 Deglobalisation William Marshall

4.0: AI & Big Data 24 Industry Sara Seppanen

14 Africa Anurag Koyyada

World in 2030 26 The William Marshall

16 Indo-Pacific Kevin Nolan Copyright Š King's College London Geopolitical Risk Society All rights reserved. Published January 2020 Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in this report are those of the authors only. They do not reflect the opinions or views of KCL GPRIS as a society nor GPRIS committee members.




Russia. Canada will see increasingly see challenges to the sovereignty of the North-West Passage, already disputed by the United States. 5



he Arctic Ocean is set to be a future hot spot of geopolitical competition throughout the coming decade. The fading sea ice regime of the last decade has already begun to open new roads for trade between three continents, Europe, America and Asia. The North-West Passage was first considered partially open in the summer of 2007. 1 Since then, the intensification of the maritime traffic has already started to show its effects. While the first shipments cross the polar routes at the beginning of the decade, in 2018 the first Russia-India connection was realised, carrying the first India-bound shipment of liquified gas across the Bering Strait. 2

Simultaneously, Russia will tighten its control over its so-called Northern Sea Route. It will take this step considering the comparative advantage that the new route will gain, with the increasing problems relating to security (The Horn of Africa) and capacity (Suez, Panama) in other major global straits. 6 Furthermore, the progressive implementation in the Polar Silk Road will foster cooperation between Russia and China, and transfer to the polar road a significant part of Chinese exports and imports, shifting the balance of the entire world trade distribution. 7 At the same time, China’s economic penetration of the region, currently based on its relationship with Russia, Greenland and Iceland, will continue. 8 This penetration will pose new threats in terms of international diplomacy and power projection.

China - which defines itself as a Near-Arctic State - was admitted to the Arctic Council in 2013, legitimising its growing ambitions in the region. More recently, the announcement of Beijing’s ambitions for a ‘Polar Silk Road’ as an Arctic Branch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in January 2018 has already fostered growing Sino-Russian cooperation in terms of trade routes and exploitation of natural resources whilst highlighting China’s growing preoccupation with the region. 3 This dynamic will determine a shift in economic, energetic and diplomatic relations in one of the most important industrial regions of the world: 80% of world industrial capability is located within 3500 nautical miles from the North Pole. 4 The new polar maritime routes will shorten world communications, with a potentially revolutionary effect on the geography of world trade, similarly to that of Suez Canal at the beginning of the last century. With the melting of the polar ice, the North-West Passage and the Northern Sea Route along the coasts of Siberia will enormously increase in terms of their strategic importance. Due to the shorter trade distances, new maritime routes will potentially open. From a geopolitical perspective, this shift will increase the relevance of the countries who host these routes: Canada and


KCL Geopolitical Risk Society Forecast Report

The new lands freed from the ice will grant access to immense reserves of exploitable strategic resources. The polar reserves of oil, gas (approximatively 90bn barrels of oil and 47tn m3 of gas) 9 and minerals will represent a strategic asset that could become fundamental in the competition for energy independence worldwide. These northern reserves will diversify the global energy supply, diminishing the power of current main producers and generating potentially relevant price shifts.

Published January 2020

The impact of these trends will be difficult to estimate completely looking ahead to 2030. The new interest towards the polar region will simultaneously stimulate the development of the economy of the communities in loco and the competition towards the great powers, not just in the energy sector, but also other economic activities, such as the immense fishery reserves of the Arctic Ocean. It is estimated that overall investments in scientific research, transportation and exploitation of these new resources could attract investments of more than $100bn. 10 A potential node of contention will be the balancing of this growth with sustainable development, thus preserving the equilibrium of the polar ecosystem. 11 The opening of the Polar frontier will have a profound impact on global geopolitics throughout the coming decade. Alongside the immense commercial potential of the Arctic, the progressive liberation of the north pole from the ice will also have a transformative effect on millions across the globe, extending thousands of miles from the pole. The profound transformation will be evident across the globe, from rising sea levels of profound shifts in agricultural production worldwide whilst opening up new lands to human exploitation, thus triggering significant demographic changes across Asia and North America. These changes will not be free from negative consequences, especially for the actual populations of the Northern Regions. The main cost in terms of social collateral effects on local communities, both in terms of conservation of traditional way of living and changes in social, economic and conditions, is difficult to quantify. Such a potentially destabilising effect will require an intense effort not only by the international community but also from the private entities that will participate in the development of the regions, to be mitigated and absorbed going forward to 2030.

Simon Gioia is currently studying for an MA in Intelligence and International Security at King’s College London. Prior to this, he obtained his BA in Politics and International Relations at the University of Pavia, Italy, spending a semester abroad at Gent University in Belgium as part of the Erasmus programme. He has gained experience in foreign market analysis and geopolitical risk through internships in Romania and Brazil. His principal areas of interest are Energy Security and International Economic Risk.


1. Gwladys Fouché, ‘North-West Passage is now plain sailing’, The Guardian, 28/08/2007. Retrieved in https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/aug/28/climatechange.internationalnews 2. Alexandra Brzozowski, ‘Fault-lines surface in Arctic as region turns into geopolitical hotspot’, Euractiv, 28/02/2019. Retrieved in https://www.euractiv.com/section/arctic-agenda/news/faultlines-surface-in-arctic-as-region-turns-into-geopolitical-hot-spot/ 3. Maud Descamp, ‘The Ice Silk Road: Is China a “Near-Arctic-State”?’, Institute for Security and Development Policy, February 2019. Retrieved in: http://isdp.eu/publication/the-ice-silkroad-is-china-a-near-artic-state/ 4. Willy Østreng, ‘On the Geopolitical Significance of the Arctic States’, CHNL, 2010. Retrieved in http://www.arctis-search.com/On+the+Geopolitical+Significance+of+the+Arctic+States 5. Danita Catherine Burke, ‘The Northwest Passage Dispute’, Oxford Research Group, 26/2/2018. Retrieved in: https://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/blog/the-northwest-passage-dispute 6. Margaret Blunden, ‘Geopolitics and the Northern Sea Route’, International Affairs: 1, 2012, 115-129, p.119. Retrieved in: https://globalmaritimehub.com/wp-content/uploads/attach_260. pdf 7. James Gordon, ‘Is America losing out on the Northern Sea Route?’, Raconteur, 10/09/2019, retrieved in https://www.raconteur.net/finance/northern-sea-route 8. Pezard, Stephanie, Abbie Tingstad, and Alexandra Hall, The Future of Arctic Cooperation in a Changing Strategic Environment: Insights from a Scenario-Based Exercise Organised by RAND and Hosted by NUPI, RAND Corporation, 2018, p.12. Retrieved in: https://www.rand. org/pubs/perspectives/PE268.html 9. Stanislav Pritchin, ‘Russia’s Untapped Arctic Potential’, Chatham House, 29/01/2018. Retrieved in: https://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/russia-s-untapped-arctic-potential# 10. Charles Emmerson, Glada Lahn, Arctic Opening: Opportunity and Risk in the High North, Lloyd’s, Chatham House, 2012. 11. Katie Burkhart, Theodora Skeadas, Christopher Wichmann, Arctic 2030: Planning For an Uncertain Future, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business & Government, Harvard Kennedy School, 2016, p.2. Photo Credits https://media.sciencephoto.com/image/c0382409/800wm




run by entrepreneurs”. 16 While such activity is commendable, it does entail several risks at the national, international, and interstellar levels. The area most threatened by increasing commercial activity in space, such as asteroid mining, is the rule of international law. As Lewis notes, if a ‘rules-based order’ is not established in space, this interstellar gold rush may transform into a legal conflict. 17



ixty years since space was presented by President John F. Kennedy as a ‘new frontier’ in the march of history, it has come to dominate international politics, economics, and security. The opportunities – and influence – that astro-politics offers are endless. Infrastructure such as satellites and spacecrafts monitor the weather, conduct surveillance, and have the potential to provide world-wide broadband; celestial bodies like asteroids and the Moon contain a vast array of valuable minerals and metals; meanwhile, the onset of reduced space travel may open this expanse into a commercial highway. 12 It is no wonder, then, that national, commercial, and individual actors alike are realising that increased influence in the interstellar is paramount to power on Earth. Early on in 2007, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) successfully destroyed an aging weather satellite, approximately 500 miles from the Earth’s surface with a medium-range ballistic missile, prompting outcries from United States (US) officials and fears of a resurgent ‘Space Race’ between the two powers. 13 While such scandals may have caught the headlines then, it is the explosion in activity of the global space sector – characterised by Beyza Unal as the ‘New Space’ revolution - that is catching increasing amounts of attention. 14 Indeed, for Gwnne Shotwell, President of SpaceX, individuals like Elon Musk and organisations such as Shackleton Energy Company are the real pioneers; indeed, for her, “This is a race being run by entrepreneurs”. 15

The potential risks posed by asteroid mining are not only legal, however, they may also prove detrimental to the environment. As Arwen Armbrecht noted in 2016, the growth of the global space sector has often been viewed as a means of alleviating pressure on terrestrial resources. Yet, the potential impact of unrestricted mining, combined with state actions and the explosions in the communications satellite sector, may entail significant commercial and environmental issues. 18 Namely, the mass amount of dust generated from such an industry could provide opportunities for collision with satellites and other objects in the Earth’s orbit. Indeed, the number of satellites currently in orbit number is well over 1000. Moreover, most of them are privately owned. 19 In this way, expansion in one area of the global space sector could pose risks for another. Furthermore, the release of high levels of dust might exacerbate the growing issue of debris in the Earth’s atmosphere. The spread of such debris not only poses risks for current activity in space, it might also impede further growth in the sector.

Certainly, the continued growth of the global space sector should be the most dynamic trend over the coming decade. And this New Space Race is not just amongst states. Indeed, for Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX, individuals like Elon Musk and organisations such as Shackleton Energy Company are the real pioneers. For her, “This is a race being

Clearly, the increasing commercial importance of the interstellar has not gone unnoticed. After re-establishing the US Space Command (USSPACECOM) to secure American interests, President Donald Trump acknowledged that space was no longer a “benign environment”, but a “vital domain”. 20 This


KCL Geopolitical Risk Society Forecast Report

January 2020

reality has been reflected by a surge in independent Defence Space Strategies among states, with France even renaming its aerial wing the Air and Space Force. Multilateral organisations have not been idle, meanwhile; earlier this year, NATO added cyber and space to its existing domains of land, sea, and air. In this way, existing competition between the US and revisionist powers such as China and Russia will be projected into the skies above. Mobilisation in the realm of astro-politics will not be restricted to its military aspects, however. Resonating with the geopolitical developments of this decade, moreover, space may also witness a swing to Asia-Pacific in the years to come. Already, the long-standing rivalry between India and Pakistan and spilled over into the interstellar. Pakistan, in conjunction with China, has been working on its own space programme. India, meanwhile, is fast establishing itself as a world leader in low-cost satellite launches – catering to an international cliental. While expansion into space may have originated as the privilege of two superpowers, it may become increasingly multipolar by 2030. Nor will space remain subject to national initiatives, as private investment and commercial enterprise increasingly makes it presence felt. As Shotwell observes, space-based revenues increased by 7% to $304 billion during 2011-2012; looking towards 2030, she wonders “whether private companies [will] overtake government spending on space”. 21 Perhaps, the relationship between states and individual actors will reflect current debates concerning information providers – characterised by increasing levels of regulation. The primacy of US companies in this sector, however, will ensure that – for now – the future of individual enterprise remains American.

to grow as investment increases and costs are reduced. It is worth remembering, despite the endlessness of space, that the resources of our solar system are finite. International collaboration, commercial restraint, and the creation of rules-based norms may provide the answer. Frontiers, however, have often created more causes for conflict than cooperation.

Dominic McClaran is a third year BA War Studies and History student at King’s College London. With a field of interest focused on geopolitics, security, and grand strategy, Dominic has explored a wide array of issues ranging from Anglo-American foreign policy to intelligence failure and the history of counterinsurgency. As Editor-in-Chief of King’s Geopolitical Risk Society 2019/20, Dominic has contributed to society policy, written monthly risk reports, and overseen the production of weekly articles – written by a team of dedicated staff writers. After completing his degree, Dominic intends to pursue a post-graduate course related to security


12. Blake, Duncan and Stephens, Dale. “Space could become the battleground of the future”. The World Economic Forum and Lewis, Patricia. “Create a Global Code of Conduct for Outer Space”. Expert Comment (accessed 2019) 13. Staff and Agencies. “China confirms anti-satellite missile test”. The Guardian (accessed 2019) 14. Unal, Beyza. “Cybersecurity of NATO’s Space-based Strategic Assets”. Reports, Papers, Briefings (accessed 2019) 15. “Outlook on the Global Agenda 2014”. The World Economic Forum (accessed 2019) 16. “Outlook on the Global Agenda 2014”. The World Economic Forum (accessed 2019) 17. Lewis. “Create a Global Code of Conduct for Outer Space”. 18. Armbrecht, Arwen. “Asteroid mining: is this the next space race?” The World Economic Forum (accessed 2019) 19. Lewis. “Create a Global Code of Conduct for Outer Space”. 20. Erwin, Sandra. “Trump formally re-establishes U.S. Space Command at White House ceremony”. Space News (accessed 2019) 21. “Outlook on the Global Agenda 2014”.

Such attempts to gain greater control over space’s commercial opportunities will only increase, creating outlets and obstacles for individuals and companies alike. However, this sector will only continue

Photo Credits https://cfvod.kaltura.com/p/954571/sp/95457100/thumbnail/entry_id/1_ig5f0xf3/version/100032/width/400/height/394 https://www.ft.com/__origami/service/image/v2/images/raw/http%3A%2F%2Fcom.ft.imagepublish.upp-prod-us.s3.amazonaws.com%2F0243cdc4-5498-11e9-a3db-1fe89bedc16e?fit=scale-down&source=next&width=700 https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwicjPWrocLmAhXB7eAKHWDaAh0QjRx6BAgBEAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fm.theepochtimes.com%2Fforchina-space-is-about-politics-and-war_2877600.html&psig=AOvVaw3a-7UNiJDh_sEtCpdIpv8g&ust=1576863732446598







istorically, the twenties have produced some of Russia’s most consequential and tumultuous periods. In the 1720s, under Peter the Great, Russia consolidated its power in the Baltic and Caspian Seas and established a new Western-oriented capital at St. Petersburg. The 1920s saw the end of revolutionary civil war in Russia, the death of Lenin, and rise of Stalin. As the 2020’s approach, Russia seems poised to undergo a fundamental transition, perhaps of proportions reminiscent of these past historical episodes. This report highlights five important Russian geopolitical risks to watch in the forthcoming decade. The first two are internal and consider poor demographics and economic stagnation. The rest focus on Russia’s external geopolitics in three theatres: the Arctic, the Asia-Pacific region, and the Eastern European near abroad. Each of these points presents a substantial challenge to be confronted in the coming decade.

ance on oil has produced a case of Dutch Disease. In 2016, oil revenues accounted for 45 percent of Russia’s state budget 28 Consequently, Russia’s economy is highly susceptible to fluctuations in global oil prices. For every ten USD that a barrel of crude oil drops, Russia’s GDP declines by nearly one percent. 29 Although Russia’s economy will be larger in 2030, it will likely grow by just one percent annually and wealth inequality will increase. 30 A potentially significant problem, considering an estimated 15 percent of Russians already live below the poverty line. 31 Alleviating these economic issues will be necessary to avoid a systemic collapse in Russia.

Russia’s demographics are unfavourable. Projections suggest Russia’s population will decline by five million in the coming decade. 22 Both birth rates and public health statistics are alarming. In the 2010-2015 period, 37 percent of Russian workers died before reaching retirement age. 23 In 2017, Russia’s Economic Development Minister reflected on the situation as “one of the most difficult in the world”. He was alluding to a forecasted decline of up to eight million Russian workers, or ten percent of the current workforce, in the next two decades. 24 Thus far, government initiatives, in 2007 and 2018, aiming to bolster birth rates by providing economic incentives have failed to alleviate long-term negative trends. Add to this, significant brain drain. In 2016 alone, 250 000 Russians left the country. 25 The social and economic ramifications of failing to confront these demographic challenges will impact Russia’s internal stability.

Russia’s geostrategic location and natural resource supply may offer a solution. Finding new energy markets and extraction sights is defined as a key objective in the Energy Strategy of Russia. 32 As suggested in the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation from 2016, the Arctic, and North Sea trade and transport routes particularly, will be crucial. 33 Similarly, the 2009 Russian Arctic Strategy suggested that income from mineral extraction coupled with Arctic trade could safeguard Russian global power. 34 Russia claims sovereignty in part of the Arctic and is already developing oil and gas extraction facilities on the Arctic continental shelf. 35 Given Russia’s large Arctic population, economic and strategic incentives, and significant military presence in Murmansk, it is unlikely that Russia will compromise on its interests in the Arctic. 36 Development of the Arctic, peaceful or otherwise, may rebalance global trade, and potentially power, in the decade ahead.

Russia’s economic problems are exacerbated by, but go beyond, negative demographic trends. Brain drain costs Russia’s economy 0.4 percent of growth annually. 26 However, there are more severe structural issues. For example, 40 percent of Russia’s production capacity is technologically and functionally obsolete, failing to produce competitive products. 27 Overreli-

Likewise, reorientation of Russian foreign policy toward China and the Asia-Pacific will have long-term geostrategic implications. EU-Russia trade remains twice as large as Russia-China trade and cultural ties with Europe are strong. 37 However, whereas Europe will remain Russia’s largest energy market,


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January 2020

its relative share of Russian energy exports will decrease in favour of China. 38 Russia-China trade already exceeds 100 billion USD annually. Beyond economics, Chinese and Russian troops participated in the joint Vostok exercise in September 2018 and in May 2019 Russian and Chinese navies jointly performed live-fire missile drills. 39 However, although Russia and China may share some common interests, they are also natural rivals, notably in Central Asia. 40 Add to this a history of distrust and a currently asymmetric partnership in terms of economic and military balance. Still, with alignment of interests and qualified coordination, China and Russia make a formidable alliance. This partnership, depending on how it develops and if it persists, will determine global balance of power in the next ten years.

future of Europe and the EU. Major periods of structural transition in Russian history have often been the product of the confluence of several factors, including demographic instability, economic stagnation, and political dissatisfaction. These conditions may be met in the next decade. When viewed from the perspective of the Russian Federation, the major geopolitical risks in the forthcoming decade are internal instability and resulting structural collapse as well as external struggles for influence in the Arctic, Asia-Pacific, and Eastern Europe. Historically, domestic turbulence in Russia has rarely been contained within its borders. Equally, Russia’s external engagements in the aforementioned theatres will have important consequences for the global world order. Therefore, each of the highlighted points ought to be carefully watched as we enter the 2020s.

Aksel Isaksson is a third year BA student in the War Studies Department at King’s College London. As a staff writer for the Geopolitical Risk Society his past articles have focused on great power conflict and hydropolitics. Academically, his interests are broadly grand strategy and contemporary Russia.

References A final theatre to watch is Eastern Europe. Russia’s near abroad is the sight of confrontation between Russia and American-promoted values of democracy, capitalism, and internationalism. 41 For Russia, controlling the near abroad is not just about values, but state security and great power status. 42 Russia’s foreign policy objectives can be viewed from different perspectives. If considered a revanchist power, driven by imperial mentalities and a sense of being wronged by the west, Russia seeks to overturn the post-cold war order in Eastern Europe. 43 However, if Russia is a defensive power, with distrust of NATO and the EU following their post-cold war eastward expansion, Moscow will seek to preserve the status quo by preventing western influence in its former sphere of influence. 44 Finally, if Russia is an aggressive isolationist and declining power, lacking capacity to reshape world order, it will attempt to protect itself from western influence and democratic norms by creating a buffer of likeminded states. 45 Regardless, the near abroad is crucial to Russian national interests and it remains unlikely that Russia will disengage from Ukraine or other former Soviet Republics. The result of the East-West confrontation in this theatre will determine the

22. Frederik, Wesslau, and Andrew, Wilson. “Russia 2030: A Story of Great Power Dreams and Small Victorious Wars.” European Council on Foreign Relations, May 2016. 23. Martin, Russell. “Seven economic challenges for Russia: Breaking out of stagnation?” European Parliamentary Research Service, July 2018. 24. Ibid., 8. 25. Ibid., 9. 26. Russell, 10. 27. Andrey, Movchan. “Decline, Not Collapse: The Bleak Prospects for Russia’s Economy.” Carnegie Moscow Centre, February 2, 2017. 28. Wesslau and Wilson, 3. 29. Russell, 18. 30. Wesslau and Wilson, 1-2. 31. Sergey, Efremov. “The Challenges of Russia’s Economy: An Overview.” Italian Institute for International Political Studies, November 4, 2019. 32. Energy Strategy of Russia: For the period up to 2030. Moscow: Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation, 2010, 21-22. 33. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. “The Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation.” Accessed December 10, 2019. https://www.rusemb.org.uk/rp_insight/. 34. Chrastansky, Filip. “Perception of the Situation in the Arctic by Key Actors and the Possibility of Conflict Escalation.” Defence & Strategy, April 8, 2011, 10. 35. Energy Strategy, 115. 36. Chrastansky, 12. 37. Bobo, Lo. “Once More With Feeling: Russia and the Asia-Pacific.” Lowy Institute, August 20, 2019. 38. Energy Strategy, 23. 39. Stallard-Blanchette, Katie. “Putin and Xi’s Buddy Act Could Blow Up East Asia.” Foreign Policy, July 31, 2019. 40. Wesslau and Wilson, 6. 41. Götz, Elias, and Camille-Renaud Merlen. “Russia and the question of world order.” European Politics and Society 20, no. 2 (2019): 133-153. 42. Wesslau and Wilson, 8. 43.Götz and Merlen, 135-136. 44. Ibid., 137. 45. Ibid., 140. Photo Credits https://www.thearcticinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Prirazlomnaya-platform.jpeg https://nationalinterest.org/sites/default/files/styles/resize-1440/public/main_images/2qkztgbrw3fbumdqitna0pdlagkxdcau.jpg?itok=tyNtb_bs






lobalisation – The exponentially increasing flows of goods, services, people and ideas across borders has been perhaps the defining narrative of the Post-Cold War global order – until now. In an age of Brexit and Trump, fuelled by the waves of populism and protectionism sweeping the globe from Hungary to India, states, corporations and individuals can no longer take the relentless march of globalisation as a given. Looking towards 2030, perhaps the greatest risk to the global economic order is that these trajectories that we have taken for granted for so long will trend in reverse, ushering in an era of ‘deglobalisation’ as political contingencies compel national leaders to pursue protectionist agendas, reflecting a narrow zero-sum worldview of the global economy. That the increased mobility of global capital since at least the 1960s (accelerated since the end of the Cold War) has produced winners and losers has long been evident. 46 To the dozens of Asian, African and Latin American countries who have had structural adjustment programmes of aggressive privatisation foisted upon them by international financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, we can add the so-called ‘left behind’ of the developed world, concentrated in ex-industrial areas such as America’s ‘Rust Belt’ and the North of England as ‘losers’ of globalisation, especially in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Whilst the effects of the great recession have arguably been slow to materialise and vary immensely across countries, prolonged periods of slow GDP growth, rising inflation and a growing divergence between the booming professional services and stagnating manufacturing industries have been the common economic denominators of the past decade across the West. 47 The inevitable permeation of this rising economic stagnation into political discourse is evident across large swathes of the post-industrial world,


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as increased calls for economic protectionism against foreign competition has translated into a ‘beggar thy neighbour’ view of international trade, increased immigration controls and populist nationalism. Encapsulated by the worldview of the current U.S. President, ‘Global Trumpism’ has been on the rise across the globe in a bewildering variety of national permutations, from Fidesz in Orban’s Hungary to Hindutva in Modi’s India and from France’s Le Pen to Turkey’s Erdogan. 48 This development, particularly evident since the watershed moment of Britain’s Brexit vote in June 2016, has come as a shock to political risk analysts more used to dealing with Malawi or Azerbaijan as they now have to turn their sights closer to home in areas previously considered a part of a consolidated democratic zone of peace.

If such trends continue into the 2020s as is currently projected, this reversal of the globalisation process is likely to yield some of the most defining geopolitical risks of the decade as swathes of the globe previously considered stable are thrust into a newfound volatility. At the purely economic level, expected withdrawals from international trade agreements such as NAFTA and the imposing of tariffs aimed at protecting vital industries, whilst potentially yielding short-term success, is likely to further exacerbate the economic stagnation of the previous decade in the long-term, thus potentially plunging developed economies into vicious cycles of populism bolstered by further stagnation. Moreover, such divisions are likely to further exacerbate the domestic rift within Western societies between professional, highly-educated, urban and mobile ‘liberal elite’ and the manual, provincial and socially conservative ‘man of the people’, resulting in a further proliferation of the volatile political environment created by Britain’s Brexit impasse and growing bipartisan divides in the U.S.

Perhaps the greatest risk posed by ‘Deglobalisation’ however, is the escalation of the trade war between the world’s two great economic powerhouses, the U.S. and China and the potential that exists for the emergence of two parallel economic blocs operating under different rules, norms, regulatory and ideological frameworks. Nowhere is this more obvious than in ‘Big Tech’, where the 5G systems pioneered by Washington and Beijing are shaping up to mutually inoperable, functioning under differing technical standards. 49 As the Fourth Industrial Revolution gathers pace and 5G takes centre-stage, this is likely to not only hamper global trade and innovation due to the necessity of transferring between technical operating systems, but also has the potential to spark a new tech war as Washington and Beijing lobby third country capitals to adopt their own 5G regulatory frameworks, thus encapsulating this third party within their economic orbit.

However, if we are, as eminent political geographer Tim Marshall argues, living in ‘an age of walls’, global indicators and trade patterns appear to suggest this may be an exclusively Western phenomenon. 50 Indeed, as ‘Deglobalisation’, marked by rising anticompetitive protectionism and autarkic government policies, gathers pace across the developed world, the picture from booming emerging economies such China, India and Saudi Arabia belies a radically different story. Rather than retreating into economic nationalism, the governments of the ‘New Silk Road’ are displaying evidence of ever increasing regional cooperation and integration through parallel institutions such as the Asian Development Bank, all undergirded by Chinese capital as part of Xi Jinping’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. 51 As the Eurasian landmass is traversed by an exponentially growing web of inter-governmental projects, such as new direct rail links from Xi’an in central China to Duisberg, Germany and transnational pipelines such as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline linking the fossil fuel reserves of the Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean, it becomes increasingly apparent that ‘Deglobalisation’ may not be so much a

universal as much as an exclusively Western trend. 52 Overall, this does not negate the profound socio-political ramifications which will result from continued ‘Deglobalisation’ during the 2020s, a trend which if not reversed will further fuel the grievances of the ‘left behind’ as well as the populism and protectionism that stem from this. However, perhaps ‘Deglobalisation’ belies some of the more fundamental structural shifts in geo-economic power. As the global economic centre of gravity shifts back towards Asia, we will increasingly have to look east for global leadership in economic affairs.

Will Marshall is a third-year BA International Relations student at King’s College London. In his capacity as Vice President of KCL Geopolitical Risk Society, he is responsible for producing monthly risk forecasts of likely geopolitical hotspots and possesses a broad range of interests within the fields of international relations, geopolitics and security studies, from post-conflict reconstruction to British foreign policy and from the Fourth Industrial Revolution to the ‘New Silk Roads’. He also works part-time as a Research Analyst at The Foreign Policy Research Institute, a U.S.-based think tank.


46. Edward Hardy, Winners and Losers of Globalisation, URL:https://www.worldfirst.com/uk/ blog/international-business/winners-losers-globalisation/ 47. Melissa de Witte, How the Great Recession Influenced Today’s Populist Movements, URL: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/how-great-recession-influenced-todays-populist-movements 48. Mark Blyth, Global Trumpism, Foreign Affairs, URL: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2016-11-15/global-trumpism 49. Henny Sender, US-China contest centres on race for 5G domination, Financial Times, URL: https://www.ft.com/content/d3072b76-90e9-11e9-aea1-2b1d33ac3271 50. Tim Marshall (2018) Divided: Why we are living in an age of walls 51. Shawn Donnan, Trump win gives China keys to Asian economic integration, Financial Times, URL: https://www.ft.com/content/7a8159ce-ac83-11e6-9cb3-bb8207902122 52. David Tweed, China’s New Silk Road, Bloomberg, URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/quicktake/china-s-silk-road Photo Credits https://static.politico.com/dims4/default/36cb3c7/2147483647/resize/1160x%3E/quality/90/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fstatic.politico.com%2Fab%2Ff6%2F613be https://foreignpolicy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/silk-road-crop.jpg?w=800&h=383&quality=90 f854ee5a67aa6ab18d47edd%2F181202-trump-nafta-ap-773.jpg https://c.tribune.com.pk/2019/02/1916296-mbsxijinping-1550843119.jpg




nations, the coming decade will be critical for the continent, especially as its economic and political institutions mature and the world’s great powers rush to rapidly globalize the region. Following are two major shifts that will mould how the story of Africa is told, contrasting the immense potential of the continent with the profound governance challenges Africa is likely to face as we head towards 2030.



he continent of Africa is exceedingly diverse, representing an amalgamation of numerous languages, cultures, flora & fauna, resources, etc. However, the region’s challenges are not so dynamic; most African nations are uniformly plagued by a range of governance issues including transnational terrorism, corruption, increased poverty and rapid population growth to name but a few. As a result of such tensions and political power-plays over the last few years, various states in Africa have seen significantly worsened geopolitical risk, while some states on the contrary have felt dramatic decreases in risk due to dispute resolution success. Examples of heightened risk include Cameroon, Tunisia, and the Central African Republic (CAR). Cameroon’s tensions were largely fueled by presidential election uncertainty and discontent, as well as the controversial postponement of elections for municipal and legislative positions. Meanwhile, in Tunisia, ineffective governance and policy-making have been most pressing as the majority-party coalition collapsed, greatly restraining policy action and collaboration prior to the 2019 elections. Rather than election results, the CAR has been more worried about its worsening humanitarian conditions; a continued power struggle between armed Christian and Musim groups is rendering mass-violence likely. Diminished risk, on the contrary, counts Mozambique, South Sudan, and South Africa as examples. Peace deals between ruling and rebel groups (respectively) led the way in both Mozambique, where progress was made between the FRELIMO and RENAMO parties, and South Sudan, which saw a peace deal signed between President Mayardit and rebel leader Machar. In South Africa, rather than a peace deal, outright change in leadership sparked prosperity as the replacement of resigned President Zuma in 2018 by the “Cyril Ramaphosa” ended prolonged public protests. With similar matters to the above developing in Africa’s forty-nine other 14

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One development demonstrating the future potential of the growing, dynamic African continent is the African Continental Free Trade Area. AfCFTA is an agreement between fifty-four of the African Union’s fifty-five member-states that promotes improved intra-African trade by developing a unified market for goods and services via gradually cutting tariffs by ninety percent and coordinating trading regulations across the continent. 53 While negotiations began in 2015, the AfCFTA officially went into force in May of 2019 and, if ideally implemented in the coming years, will cover over 1.2 billion people, three trillion dollars in GDP, and boost intra-continental trade by fifty-two percent. 54 Although most are supportive of the AfCFTA, Nigeria and a few others are showing concern for damaging domestic industries, the elimination of healthy income (tariffs), etc. 55 As most of the AfCFTA’s (and the region’s other developing trade agreements) benefits will only materialize in the long term and the associated costs of integration will be incurred in the short term, 56 Africa’s peoples’ and governments’ patience will be tested. If they don’t hold up to the initial ramifications, neither will the AfCFTA. The quickest negative impacts will be those of job losses and lower wages in many professions. The most important to-be-affected sector, however, is agriculture, which currently employs fifty-three percent of Africa’s labour force. 57 As liberalisation of agriculture favours large industrial farms, 58 farmers who grow crops for subsistence and domestic consumption may be dislocated, leading to intensified urbanisation, increased food prices, and decreased food security. 59 Moreover, as the predictions of an up-to-fifty-five percent increase in intra-African trade say nothing of who will benefit, 60 it’s plausible that the working classes will gain little from the free trade area. Only the African elite and business-owners will likely initially ben-

efit from tariff liberalisation, increasing wealth inequality and their profit-maximization. 61 As for long-term upsides, the development and enhancement of Africa’s manufacturing sector could greatly enhance social mobility. As the sector could potentially double in size, it would provide better-paying jobs for many low-skilled workers, increase average household income, boost domestic demand, stabilize national economies, and contribute to innovation. 62 Moreover, the AfCFTA could be the solution to reducing African nations’ economic dependence on volatile and extractive exports (which are currently seventy-five percent of Africa’s exports) 63 ; this would allow African countries to focus on more sustainable sources of economic growth which can have tangible positive effects on employment and poverty in Africa, the levels both of which are linked to violence in the region. 64

religious and political tendencies, enhancing terrorist recruitment and large-scale operation ability. 67 As the motivations of states, groups, and people to impose harm diversifies, the threat of terrorism is likely to continue increasing, especially as the breakdown of state structures rapidly creates a vacuum ripe for extremists to exploit as exemplified by recent surges in jihadist militancy across the Sahel. Insofar as each of the above prerequisites greatly contribute to disharmony in African society, whether via inciting class-tension, diminishing opportunities for local economic growth, etc., the attractiveness of extremist-group-offered-services is drastically enhanced. Thus, not only is addressal of the above factors necessary for free-trade-agreement success but minimizing jihadist radicalisation as well.

Anurag Koyyada is a second-year Political Economy student at King’s College London with a passion for analysing international conflict, trade policy, various macroeconomic trends, and more. He is particularly attracted to the above’s American, Chinese, and Russian perspectives. He is an ambassador of the Royal Institute of International Affairs and has interned at the Hudson Institute’s Centre for Military-Political Analysis

On the other side of the coin, Africa is likely to continue to be plagued by profound instability as we progress through the 2020s. In Africa, civil society groups have proliferated and citizens across the region are demanding better and more just governance. However, many nations continue to struggle with authoritarian rule, patronage politics, favoritism and leaders focused on political survival as opposed to reform–with few term limitations–inspiring the growth of several jihadist groups in the region. 65 Moreover, as global economic headwinds threaten national development in the region via weak inwards investment, even nations who made substantive progress towards democratization remain fragile and predisposed towards violence, especially following elections. 66 Conservative religious groups and ethnically-based organizations such as Al-Shabaab are poised to be superior alternatives to weak governments in the region; such groups typically supply social services better than the nation and more closely resonate with the public’s


53. Campbell, John. “African Continental Free Trade Area: A New Horizon For Trade in Africa.” Africa Program. Council on Foreign Relations, June 10, 2019. https://www.cfr.org/blog/ african-continental-free-trade-area-new-horizon-trade-africa. 54. Ibid. 55. Green, Andrew. “What Can the African Continental Free Trade Area Really Deliver?” World Politics Review. World Politics Review, July 12, 2019. https://www.worldpoliticsreview. com/trend-lines/28030/what-can-the-african-continental-free-trade-area-really-deliver. 56. Cazares, Jesus. “Africa Continental Free Trade Area: Benefits, Costs and Implications.” Infomineo. Infomineo, April 20, 2018. https://infomineo.com/africa-continental-free-trade-area/. 57. Ibid 58. Cannard, Jonathan. “The African Continental Free Trade Agreement: Loss of Sovereignty, Lack of Transparency - AIDC: Alternative Information & Development Centre.” Alternative Information & Development Centre. AIDC, May 27, 2019. http://aidc.org.za/the-african-continental-free-trade-agreement-loss-of-sovereignty-lack-of-transparency/. 59. Ibid 60. Ibid 61. Ibid 62. Signé, Landry. “Africa's Industrialization under the Continental Free Trade Area: Local Strategies for Global Competitiveness.” Africa in Focus. The Brookings Institution, July 1, 2019. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2019/06/04/africas-industrialization-under-the-continental-free-trade-area-local-strategies-for-global-competitiveness/. 63. Campbell; see 1 64. Stowell, Joshua. “Forecast: Africa and the Middle East.” Global Security Review. GSR, June 10, 2019. https://globalsecurityreview.com/africa-middle-east/. 65. Stowell, Joshua. “Forecast: Non-State Actors: Terrorist Groups and Insurgencies.” Global Security Review. GSR, June 10, 2019. https://globalsecurityreview.com/non-state-actors-terrorist-groups-insurgencies/. ibid 66. Ibid 67. Ibid Photo Credits: https://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/BN-ML582_AFRISL_P_20160204163418.jpg







he ideological struggle between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China for influence within the Indo-Pacific remains one of the largest geopolitical concerns affecting the future economic and security development of the region over the next decade. Whilst both nations are incentivised not to engage in military conflict due the ramifications it would pose to their interconnected economies, their relationship will continue to involve a combination of co-operation and competitive transactions relative to where their strategic goals intersect. 68 However, despite recent escalations in Chinese military assertiveness in the region, the continued military superiority of US forces will ensure that the Indo-Pacific remains relatively stable over the next decade so long as its military engagement remains steadfast. 69 Consequently, whilst China will not be capable of matching the US military capabilities entirely, the growth of China’s national power means its policies and actions may have a major impact on the future stability of the region. Whilst the US ‘pivot to Asia’ strategy employed by the prior Obama administration has largely stagnated, US policy has remained invested in the Indo-Pacific through other mechanisms. 70 This is most easily reflected in its growing efforts to reorient its efforts behind Japan’s ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ strategy. 71 However, its efforts to formulate a containment policy around China are likely to fail to materialise over the coming decade due to two main limitations, both involving Russia. Firstly, despite the strategic benefit the US would attain from a diplomatic rapprochement with Russia, the adversarial public opinion of the state following the alleged electoral interference in the 2016 election has made such a relationship politically toxic for both major political parties within the next few years. 72 Ultimately, without the assistance of Russia containment of China will remain almost impossible within the foreseeable future. Secondly, even if such an event could transpire, formulating an international 16

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coalition involving both Japan and Russia would be difficult due to the territorial divisions that continue to exist over the Kuril chain of islands just north of Japanese home islands. 73 Ultimately, unless these differences can be resolved, whilst the Indo-Pacific will remain relatively stable overall within the next decade, China will continue to rise without an effective long-term strategy to counteract potential future challenges in subsequent decades. Presently the Indo-Pacific’s states collectively are allocating an increasingly large amount of their federal budgets on defence, with their total spending having already overtaken the European Union and predicted to soon surpass the annual budget of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. 74 Whilst a large US military presence in the Indo-Pacific will ensure a degree of stability in the ensuing decade, the escalatory nature of modernisation projects throughout various states can play a significant role in inter-state relations and serve as a point of escalation in major geo-political hotspot. 75

For instance, the Korean peninsula remains one of the most heavily militarised environments in the world, however, despite recent US overtures to the government it remains unlikely that the north will voluntarily concede its nuclear arsenal or substantially de-militarise due to its continued conventional disadvantage proportionate to the technological and military capabilities of both South Korea and the United States. 76 Consequently, despite the US military presence, the continued existence of an unstable nuclear powered state poses a significant geo-political threat to both its immediate neighbours and the long-term stability of the Indo-Pacific region. The growing proliferation of intercontinental ballistic missile technology remains a threat vector from states who have ac-

quired such technology, due to the difficulty in intercepting such weapons when launched at a specific state. 77 By 2030 it is inevitable that more nations will have access to such technology, which risks instigating an arms race in the region if the US military presence is diminished by a substantial capacity. Additionally, the proliferation of recent technological advances such as quantum computing¸ hypersonic glide vehicles and unmanned autonomous weapons will see the introduction of new and untested weapon systems into the region. 78 The legal ambiguity present on the limitations of using such untested technology may result in bi-lateral conflict emerging between states despite US intervention efforts.

India’s traditional sphere of influence, the Indian Ocean. 83 Secondly, in relation to internal considerations, the rise of Hindu Nationalism in mainstream politics will likely disenfranchise the Muslim minority population and result in greater conflict between the opposing groups. 84 Given the increased mandate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party received in the 2019 elections propagating divisive social and religious issues aimed at exclusively advantaging pro-Hindu policies, it is likely that the state will push to modify its constitution to designate it as the official state religion within the next decade. 85 Regardless of if this is achieved or not, pushing towards this goal will have major ramifications for state security within the immediate future. Kevin Nolan is a MA student in Conflict, Security and Development within the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. Having grown up living in Australia his research interests are primarily focused on the Indo-Pacific region, state-building within post-conflict zones and combating technological challenges to regional security concerns.

References Whilst China remains a substantial focus of international attention, India is positioned as another actor poised to rise to prominence as a powerful regional entity in international affairs by the turn of the next decade. With a rapidly expanding economy, advantageous working demographics and clearly defined foreign policy objectives, it is likely to increasingly assert itself as a leading provider of regional security within the Indo-Pacific. 79 80 However, despite its potential to become such a powerful entity, its Act Far East Policy will struggle to succeed due to both internal and external factors which will inhibit its ability to catch up to the current capabilities of China by 2030. Firstly, in relation to external considerations, Pakistan’s incorporation of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor and leasing of the Gwadar port to the Chinese State has more closely intertwined the economic relationship between both nations. 81 The opening of this military base so close to Indian territory is only one of several within a ‘string of pearls’ across the Indian ocean by the Communist Party. 82 These bases are increasingly acting as a containment mechanism against India and enabling China to increasingly assert its influence within

68. Shenin, Sergei Y. 2014. "The Transfer Of Power In Central Asia And Threats To Regional Stability". Connections: The Quarterly Journal 14 (1): 137-147. 69. De Graaff, Naná, and Bastiaan Van Apeldoorn. 2018. "US–China Relations And The Liberal World Order: Contending Elites, Colliding Visions?". International Affairs 94 (1): 113-131. 70. Lampton, David M. 2019. "Reconsidering U.S.-China Relations: From Improbable Normalization To Precipitous Deterioration". Asia Policy 26 (2): 43-60. 71. Tan, Andrew T. H. 2018. Handbook On The United States In Asia, Managing Hegemonic Decline, Retaining Influence In The Trump Era. 1st ed. Cheltenham, UK: EE Edward Elgar Publishing. 72. Riddervold, Marianne, and Guri Rosén. 2018. "Unified In Response To Rising Powers? China, Russia And EU-US Relations". Journal Of European Integration 40 (5): 555-570. 73. Brown, James D.J. 2019. "Abe's Russia Policy: All Cultivation And No Fruit". Asia Policy 26 (1): 148-155. doi:10.1353/asp.2019.0000. 74. Australian Government. 2017. "2017 Foreign Policy White Paper”. 75. Shenin, Sergei Y. 2014. "The Transfer Of Power In Central Asia And Threats To Regional Stability". Connections: The Quarterly Journal 14 (1): 137-147. 76. Moon, Chung-in. 2017. "Managing North Korean Nuclear Threats: In Defense Of Dialogue And Negotiations". Asia Policy 23 (1): 74-82. 77. Lampton, David M. 2019. "Reconsidering U.S.-China Relations: From Improbable Normalization To Precipitous Deterioration". Asia Policy 26 (2): 43-60. 78. Australian Government. 2017. "2017 Foreign Policy White Paper". 79. Hopewell, Kristen. 2014. "Different Paths To Power: The Rise Of Brazil, India And China At The World Trade Organization". Review Of International Political Economy 22 (2): 311-338. 80. Scott, David. 2017. "The Rise Of India: UK Perspectives". International Affairs 93 (1): 165-188. 81. Australian Government. 2017. "2017 Foreign Policy White Paper". 82. Ladwig III, Walter C. 2015. "Indian Military Modernization And Conventional Deterrence In South Asia". Journal Of Strategic Studies 38 (5): 729-735. 83. Kaul, Nitasha. 2017. "Rise Of The Political Right In India: Hindutva-Development Mix, Modi Myth, And Dualities". Journal Of Labor And Society 20 (4): 523-548. 84. Rao, H Naresh. 2019. "The Role Of New Media In Political Campaigns: A Case Study Of Social Media Campaigning For The 2019 General Elections". Asian Journal Of Multidimensional Research (AJMR) 8 (4): 228. 85. Wang, Zhen, and Feng Ye. 2019. "China–Sri Lanka Relations In The Context Of The 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road: Motives, Challenges, And Prospects". Asian Perspective 43 (3): 481-503. Photo Credits: https://asiasociety.org/sites/default/files/styles/1200w/public/2018-04/%C2%A9shutterstock_ ID714094570_0.jpg?itok=lQ743BMA https://ca-times.brightspotcdn.com/dims4/default/a53c61f/2147483647/strip/true/ crop/1024x576+0+0/resize/840x473!/quality/90/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fcalifornia-times-brightspot.s3.amazonaws.com%2F7d%2Fbd%2Fac30e360078dd89fe71d384baf47%2Fla-1551720341-xkqwa2l81b-snap-image




The Democratic Recession BY ANASTASIA CHISHOLM


he past decade has experienced a global slide into what has become known as the ‘democratic recession’. The term, as used by Larry Diamond in 2015, denotes a broad trend of heightened repression in authoritarian states, global reduction in levels of freedom and liberty, and an erosion in confidence of established democracies in their own ‘liberal’ world order. 86 Some notable components of democratic quality currently under fire are those of the rule of law, accountability, liberty and equality for citizens, free (and fair) elections, and freedom of speech or information. 87 As these trends come to fruition, the consequences have the potential to be widespread and severe. A central question to ask is whether the so-called democratic recession is a long-term trend or merely a short-term setback to democratic consolidation within a limited number of states. Broad statistics and decisions made by key international actors hint at the former. Freedom House, an organisation focusing on the measure and promotion of ‘political rights and civil liberties’ through ‘analysis, advocacy, and action’, 88 recently published a worrying report on what it labelled as ‘democracy in retreat’. 89 It was noted that according to Freedom House measures, 2018 had marked the ‘13th consecutive year of decline of global freedom’. 90 This was found in every region and in every political system, from liberal democracies to longstanding authoritarian regimes. 91 A growing distrust in political establishments, economic grievances, and concerns over immigration’s impact on national identity has culminated in a series of successful political gains for right-wing parties in Europe. 92


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Whilst these are broad trends, key examples stand out in recent years supporting the argument that democracy is in recession and its components under attack. For example, the Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential campaigns shattered confidence in free and fair elections, with further accusations being made of right-wing parties in Italy and France receiving Russian financial backing. 93 More recently, the 2019 British General Election has been tainted with allegations of Russian money funnelling into the Conservative Party, detailed in a currently unreleased report which the government has been accused of trying to keep classified until after the approaching election. 94 The erosions of free and fair processes, as well as deficiencies in transparency and accountability, have significant repercussions due the longstanding status of Western Europe and the United States as housing the most progressive liberal democracies. It is not, however, only in Western democracies where key examples can be presented. Turkey has been criticised by human rights watchdogs for undergoing an authoritarian ‘drift’ - intensified by the failed 2016 coup - through constitutional changes which have included the erosion of checks and balances upon President Erdogan’s executive power. 95 These examples have identified and analysed some clear challenges to democracy over recent years: challenges which may define the trajectory of international politics over the next decade.

The democratic recession within states in multiple world regions is expected to bolster the rise of a ‘coalition of the unwilling’: state leaders aiming to accelerate the erosion of the liberal world order through nationalist and isolationist policies

producing international repercussions for global stakeholders. 96 The rise of technology and social media is expected to play a sustained role in the galvanisation of protest and is also anticipated to continue as an arena in which repressive governments attempt to exercise control. If economic and social grievances are not addressed, right-wing parties will likely make further political gains, with probable adverse consequences on the treatment of marginalised members of society. Moreover, the overall trend towards an inward looking national focus will, over the next decade, play a decisive role in the future of our planet. Trump and Bolsonaro’s disdain for environmental regulation is likely to have short-term positive consequences for the profits of corporations. Nevertheless, the overall impact of environmental deregulation and degradation on stakeholders will most certainly be negative. Communities across the world are expected to suffer from climate change and costs are likely to increase for governments due to damage caused by natural disasters increasing in severity and frequency. The risk of conflict is also present through unsustainable environmental policy, as states face an ever-losing battle for more resources in a finite world.

broad foreign policy decisions and therefore it is key that confidence is restored in the ability of leaders to bring about positive results for the citizens whom they represent. It is in the interests of all states to stabilise the economic and political environments in which they operate, and it is in the interest of all stakeholders that relationships of trust are fostered and maintained in order to mitigate uncertainty. With such improvements in relations and leadership, the democratic recession may become a distant memory.

Anastasia Chisholm is a third year BA International Relations student currently specialising in the Middle East and North Africa region. She is particularly interested in issues of conflict and security, the evolution of terrorist ideology and methods, as well as shifts in Western foreign policy and their consequences for regional stability and dynamics.


Widespread social, economic, and environmental repercussions have been predicted as consequences of democratic recession continued into the next decade. Nevertheless, the trends are not set in stone, and key shifts can impact the degree to which stakeholders are likely to be impacted by the risks analysed. In order to change or mitigate the proposed forecast, good governance and leadership is encouraged. Trustworthy, respected leaders are required to dedicate their resources and focus towards cooperation on global issues and promoting democratic values internally. State dynamics are central to predicting

86. Larry Diamond. "Facing up to the democratic recession." Journal of Democracy 26, no. 1 (2015), p.141-142 87. Leonardo Morlino, "What is a ‘good’ democracy?." Democratization 11, no. 5 (2004): 10-32. 88. "Freedom House". Freedomhouse.Org. 2019. https://freedomhouse.org/our-work. 89. Christopher Brandt et al, "Freedom In The World: Democracy In Retreat". Freedomhouse. Org. 2019. https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/Feb2019_FH_FITW_2019_Report_ ForWeb-compressed.pdf. 90. Ibid., p. 1. 91. Ibid., p.1. 92. "Europe And Right-Wing Nationalism: A Country-By-Country Guide". 2019. BBC News. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-36130006. 93. James Ball, "Russian Interference Threatens Elections Across The World — Including Ours". The Bureau Of Investigative Journalism. 2019.https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/ stories/2019-11-13/russian-interference-threatens-elections-across-the-world-including-ours. 94. Gordon Corera. "General Election 2019: The Mystery Of The Russia Report". BBC News. 2019. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-50366956. 95. Arthur Beesley, "Alarm Raised On Turkey’S Drift Towards Authoritarianism | Financial Times". Ft.Com.2017. https://www.ft.com/content/975eb990-035b-11e7-aa5b-6bb07f5c8e12.; Zafer Yılmaz and Bryan S. Turner. "Turkey’s deepening authoritarianism and the fall of electoral democracy." (2019): 691-698. 96. Ian Bremmer and Cliff Kupchan. "Risk 7: Coalition Of The Unwilling". Eurasiagroup.Net. 2019. https://www.eurasiagroup.net/live-post/risk-7-coalition-of-the-unwilling. Photo Credits https://static.timesofisrael.com/www/uploads/2019/12/Untitled-11-3.jpg https://www.newstatesman.com/sites/default/files/styles/lead_image/public/Longreads_2018/05/john_gray.jpg?itok=GhXI9syX




Climate Change BY LUKE STEWART


hroughout the last decade, there have been many warnings about the effects of climate change as well as crises occurring before our very eyes. In 2017, over 15,000 scientists signed a letter, building on the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity”, warning that ‘to prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. This prescription was well articulated by the world’s leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning.’ 97 These same scientists reinforced their call with a warning of a climate emergency only two months ago. NASA, which has routinely measured the amount of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere that are key drivers of climate change, has measured an increase of CO2 parts per million from 387 to 412ppm over the last decade. 98 It is understandable then why the World Meteorological Organisation said in their State of the Global Climate last year that 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record, 99 because with levels of the three main heat-trapping gases reaching yet another high, it looks like 2019 will become the fifth hottest year on record. 100 It is more than fair to say, time is running out. As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated recently, ‘We are at a defining moment…. We face a direct existential threat.’ 101 Environmental risks now dominate the global risk landscape. Four of the top ten risks in terms of likelihood are found in this category, with extreme weather events, failure to adapt to climate change and natural disasters taking the three spots. 102 In terms of impact, while weapons of mass destruction is deemed the greatest risk of all, five of the top ten are still environmental, with failure to adapt to climate change and extreme weather events taking the second and third places respectively. 103 This connection is perfectly understandable; extreme weather events are a direct result of climate change, 104 and the number of reported weather disasters 20

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has consistently been seen to be on the increase, these including floods, storms and extreme temperatures. 105 Rising sea levels is a forecasted consequence that has received particular attention. According to the IPCC, the atmospheric temperature will likely reach 1.5°C degrees within the next 35 years if global warming continues at the current rate. 106 This will cause global sea levels to continue to rise throughout the 21st century and beyond, approximately between 0.30 and 0.93 meters by the beginning of 2100. 107 The potential damages of this are significant in a wide range of areas. In terms of infrastructure, rising sea levels could cause up to 3.4 billion hours of traffic delays by 2100 on the US East Coast alone, as well as 84 days of disruption a year on coastal railway in the United Kingdom, and lack of access to the internet due to lack of waterproof fibre optic cables. 108 By the 2050s, more than 650 million people in 500 cities are projected to face declines in freshwater availability of at least 10%, 109 450 million people across the globe could be without power due to the vulnerability of power plants, and salination of soil could cause nearly a 16% decline in rice yield. 110

Another consequence that must be borne in mind, likely to be caused by rising sea levels, is displacement and forced migration of people. Weather-related incidents, including floods and coastal storms, displaced nearly 19 million people in 2017, and it is very likely that that the rising impact of sea levels rising on coastal cities and land will leave an increasing amount either uninhabitable for human life, or economically unviable. Thus, this will likely lead to large bodies of people being forced to migrate into ever decreasing amounts of habitable urban space and cities. 111 If left unaddressed, climate change could force up to 86 million people in Sub-Saharan

Africa, 40 million in South Asia and 17 million in Latin America to permanently relocate internally by 2050. 112 Effectively, the consequences of climate change are a great domino effect. If we are not able to reduce carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases, temperatures will rise. If temperatures rise, sea levels rise. If sea levels rise, people are forced to migrate, and this last consequence has many spill over risks in itself. As a result of large-scale involuntary migration, the World Economic Forum predicts risks in the form of profound social instability, further exaggeration of food crises and interstate conflict, which in turn could lead to a failure of regional and global governance. 113 Climate change is a way in which all these risks could become realities, and so it needs to be addressed. The issue has certainly been moved up the agenda and has received more media attention over recent years. For example, in the UK, with Extinction Rebellion protests piling pressure on politicians, each of the main parties have now committed in their 2019 election manifestos to different means of addressing the climate change problem. However, while this promising, simple promises and words will not fix this issue.

as the human catastrophe that will follow if climate change is not confronted head on, will be dire.

Luke Stewart is a final year BA War Studies and History student. He is particularly interested in the areas of political extremism, insurgency and climate change within geopolitics, and has previously written an article for KCL Geopolitical Risk on the 2018 Hungarian Parliamentary Elections. He is currently writing his dissertation on the recent resurgence in far-right terrorism and is also a regional liaison officer for a climate change action group.


Mother Nature has been screaming for a long time, trying to attract the attention of anyone who would be so good as to help her. Her throat is now coarse, she is struggling to call out any longer. At this last moment, she has been found by passers-by on the street, she is now being tended to. But there is still a great possibility of that voice fading into silence. Intergovernmental bodies such as the UN and IPCC, in their various reports, have implied that slow-and-steady solutions can save her if we start now. The battle for climate change will be won (or lost) during the 2020s, perhaps representing the defining moment of the coming decade. The geopolitical fallout, as well

97. Ripple, Wolf, Newsome & 15,369 scientist signatories, 2017, pg. 1028 98. NASA, 2019, https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/carbon-dioxide/ 99. World Meteorological Organisation, 2018, https://wmo.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=855267a7dd394825aa8e9025e024f163 100. United Nations, 2019, https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/11/1052111 101. Guterres, 2018, https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2018-09-10/secretary-generals-remarks-climate-change-delivered 102. World Economic Forum, 2019, pg. 3 103. Ibid, pg. 3 104. Ibid, pg. 5 105. World Meteorological Organisation, 2014, pg. 9 106. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2018, pg. 5 107. World Economic Forum, 2019, pg. 62 108. Ibid, pg. 64 109. Urban Climate Change Research Network, 2018, pg. 6 110. World Economic Forum, 2019, pg. 64 111. Ibid 112. Ibid 113. Ibid, pg. 5 Photo Credits https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiR_NvW8sHmAhViA2MBHTgmBq4QjRx6BAgBEAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fclimateandcapitalism. com%2F2019%2F04%2F23%2Fxr-protests-a-watershed-for-the-climate-change-movement%2F&psig=AOvVaw0SnydjANstcyHL4B7knJ-b&ust=1576851206774526 https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/XIqXfxVE4OYJ2XbxwSfX4vtvkfM=/1092x https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/720x405/p07t1k3y.jpg https://media.globalcitizen.org/thumbnails/e3/5f/e35fa9d7-54ce-4c02-922e-74fbb67c9e75/venice-flooding-water-level-environment-social-share.jpg__1500x670_q85_crop_subsampling-2. jpg 0/2019/11/05/741f067b-269f-4bab-a63b-16d0a1a36dab/bunsenearth.png https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiWvYfPmcLmAhXMxoUKHbtqDjwQjRx6BAgBEAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww. bostonglobe.com%2F2019%2F12%2F13%2Fopinion%2Fwhere-is-liberty-mutual-climate-fight%2F&psig=AOvVaw0-ma7kkOj7S-KEaWOAKN4Y&ust=1576861664761943





check India’s capacity to compete with China. Meanwhile, China demonstrated their economic capacity by enduring the US-China trade war. The fact that China has survived and can pursue a strategy of waiting out the US for a deal that suits them is a testament to China’s economic vitality. Through two-way feedback between BRI and China’s economic capacity, China has positioned itself to threaten US hegemony and establish its own spheres of influence within the coming decade.


t is generally accepted amongst scholars of international relations that a new world order was established with the fall of the Soviet Union and when the US became the dominant global power. 114 Some have gone so far as to term the past three decades as ‘Pax Americana’. 115 But as Kenneth Waltz points out, with American hegemony comes a host of other powers uneasy with the world order and who will therefore equip themselves to challenge it. 116 China poses a threat to US hegemony with its growing economic strength and capacity to influence other states, and therefore places the current world order at risk of shifting into a loose bipolar formation or a multipolar formation. Throughout the past decade, the Chinese state’s capacity to establish hegemony outside of its borders has increased exponentially. Namely this has been achieved through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and has also been showcased through the recent US-China trade war. BRI spans sixty-eight countries with Chinese investment in these countries estimated to be $8 trillion. 117 However, the project has been widely criticised as an attempt to entrap developing countries into chronic debt to China. 118 One study identified twenty three BRI countries that were ‘highly vulnerable to debt distress’ with eight countries in particular at risk for serious debt sustainability problems. 119 China has not just made soft gains through BRI but has also made hard, tangible gains by establishing its first overseas military base in Djibouti as part of the country’s debt restructuring from BRI. 120 Similarly, Beijing has manoeuvred its way into controlling the rights to Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port for one hundred years as part of a similar debt restructuring as part of BRI. 121 The centrepiece of BRI is Pakistan with China’s investment in the country reaching $62 billion. 122 By improving Pakistan’s infrastructure, China is empowering the country economically and militarily which is then used to 22

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However, this prediction is dependent on namely two key factors: how will China handle its internal politics in the coming decade? And will this recent shift in US economic and foreign policy continue past 2020? Recently with the Hong Kong protests, questions about China’s ability to quell internal dissent have become more difficult to answer. However, these protests are not a new phenomenon nor are they isolated to Hong Kong. Rather, Ben Hillman and Gray Tuttle question the stability of China’s national identity. 123 This is particularly apparent in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia which have suffered a wave of ethnic unrest since the 1950s that is only growing stronger. BRI actually attempts to address this, by connecting underdeveloped border provinces to developing countries and therefore, in theory, improving the economic situation of these regions. However, an improvement in economic conditions has not been nor will be sufficient to quell such unrest which explains China’s use of force within the region. What Hong Kong and the West reveal is that a growing number of people within China’s sovereign borders are increasingly discontent with the Chinese state’s exertion of hegemony. The capacity of the Chinese state to remedy this is questionable, and it may very well be that in the next decade China will be better at

exerting hegemony abroad than exerting hegemony domestically within certain regions.

2020 elections, if the Trump administration is granted a second term, it is certain that this trend of nationalist isolationism will continue until 2024. By that time, it may be too late to undo the damage done to the former world order. Therefore, in the next decade the liberal world order is at risk. Thanks to a departure in US economic and foreign policy and China’s growing capacity to exert hegemony outside of its sovereign borders, the world order will likely shift into a bipolar or multipolar structure and away from US traditional strategic interests.

The second question relates to the US ability, or attitude, to fight back against China’s capacity to alter the international order. The Trump administration has demonstrated a reversal in US economic and foreign policy, namely through its prosecution of the trade war by shifting towards economic nationalist policies and its recent decision to become more sparing with the deployment of troops abroad as seen by the decision to withdraw troops from Syria. These decisions, as well as other policies, combine to form a narrative of nationalism and isolationism. The Trump administration firmly believes it is not the US’s job to be global policemen. While this is subject to change in the

Brynn O’Connell is a final year BA War Studies student with an interest in the political economy of conflict. Her interests within geopolitics are geo-economics and areas of geopolitical tension within the Middle East and North Africa region. She has previously written articles on the US-China trade war and geopolitical risks associated with US withdrawal from northern Syria.


114. Ikenberry, John. “The End of Liberal International Order?” OUP Academic. Oxford University Press, January 1, 2018; Zlobin, Nikolai. “The New World Order.” International Journal: Canada's Journal of Global Policy Analysis 63, no. 2 (2008): 307–19. 115. Nanjundan, S. "A New World Order?" Economic and Political Weekly 26, no. 22/23 (1991): 1389-392. 116. Waltz, Kenneth N. “The New World Order.” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 22, no. 2 (1993),190. 117. Hurley, John, Scott Morris, and Gailyn Portelance . “Examining the Debt Implications of the Belt and Road Initiative from a Policy Perspective.” Center for Global Development, March 2018. 118. Crabtree, James. “China Needs to Make BRI More Transparent and Predictable.” Financial Times. Financial Times, April 25, 2019. 119. Hurley, Morris, and Portelance. 120. Headley, Tyler. “China's Djibouti Base: A One Year Update.” – The Diplomat. for The Diplomat, December 7, 2018. 121. Abi-habib, Maria. “How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port.” The New York Times. The New York Times, June 25, 2018. 122. Zheng, Sarah. “Is China's US$62 Billion Investment Fuelling Resentment in Pakistan?” South China Morning Post, July 3, 2018. 123. Tuttle, Gray. Ethnic Conflict and Protest in Tibet and Xinjiang: Unrest in China's West Edited by Ben Hillman. S.l.: Colombia University Press, 2020. Photo Credits https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwi04f757cHmAhUhxYUKHd7UBvYQjRx6BAgBEAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fgisreportsonline.com%2Fdebate-what-chinas-new-silk-road-means-for-europe%2C2425%2Cc. html&psig=AOvVaw0jgAI19Otf3fB3CZks0VUG&ust=1576849381965230 https://iadsb.tmgrup.com.tr/c5b3b3/645/400/0/52/1857/1204?u=https://idsb.tmgrup.com. tr/2019/07/22/understanding-chinas-challenge-to-the-international-order-1563825194417.jpg https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/belt-road-forum-china. jpg https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwicsaqz78HmAhVLVhoKHeO5DUAQjRx6BAgBEAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.rand. org%2Fblog%2F2018%2F08%2Fchina-prepares-for-an-international-order-after-us.html&psig=AOvVaw07SCBp_w2hkUWC-sfp4rXq&ust=1576850307678754




Industry 4.0: AI & Big Data BY SARA SEPPANEN


n the summer of 1956, American computer scientist John McCarthy coined the term “Artificial Intelligence” (AI), essentially heralding a new era of technological innovation. At this point, however, few could probably imagine that the 2010s would be the decade in which big data and AI entered the consciousness of world leaders, becoming a prerequisite for political and military might all around the world. In 2014, American journalist Kenneth Cukier held a TED Talk during which he singled out big data as an extremely important tool by which society will advance. 124 There is no doubt that China and the United States have caught on to this idea. For proof of states’ eagerness to seize data in the information age, we do not need to stretch further than the 2017 phenomenon of data surpassing oil as the world’s most valuable resource. 125 The rush to big data acquisition and AI superiority, representing strategic rivalry between the two powers, is one of the greatest security risks in the geopolitical landscape of the 2020s. While many consider the deteriorating US-China relations as the immediate threat to global security, it is worth remembering that the tensions are far from new. As Aaron Friedberg’s 2005 analysis on the future of US-China relations highlights, mounting friction has been on the agenda before. 126 What is new, however, is the high tech. An accelerated quest for big data carries with it risks of states becoming more inclined to adopt intrusive data collection methods. After all, big data can not only be used to optimise machine learning as a subset of AI, but to detect anomalies in population behaviour and for link analysis to unpack criminal networks. 127 As such, some would claim that big data is key to national security as well as international power. More importantly, developing states, which have not been part of the ear24

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lier trends toward the internet of things and hyperconnectivity, are likely to fall into this thinking. Accordingly, big data and AI are issues spanning beyond isolated domestic surveillance controversies to the expansion of mobile networks in developing countries. Indeed, the AI arms race has led to China expanding its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to include a Digital Silk Road ambition. 128 While China’s president Xi Jinping has not revealed precisely what the ambition involves, he has asserted that it will encompass AI and big data. 129 More than being a pursuit of Chinese growth and regional influence, the digital feature of the BRI will likely set an alarming political precedent in the eyes of Western liberal-hearted leaders. By distributing high-quality fibre optic cables and deploying 5G in North Africa in the coming decade, China’s strategy to shape the global ICT environment is likely to cause a normative shift where the curbing of internet freedom is nothing out of the ordinary. 130 From state-owned telecommunications company Huawei causing industrial espionage controversies in the 2010s, the coming decade will see China exporting values of digital authoritarianism to North African BRI-partners such as Egypt.

The Great Firewall of state-controlled internet, digital censorship and surveillance are only a few examples of population controlling methods which might gain attraction in the eyes of authoritarian state-leaders. 131 This is not to say that the BRI-partners have no agency to resist such change, but to rather highlight that they are unlikely to want to resist it. Indeed, we are already at the dawn of change. The integration of China’s internet governance model has begun in Egypt, where a cybercrime law extensively infringing citizens’ rights in the name of national security was adopted in 2018. 132 From a ge-

opolitical perspective, this trend risks causing deep frictions between the West and China, as the latter enjoys strategic leverage through the exportation of authoritarian values. As China seems to follow Kai-Fu Lee’s notion “In deep learning, there is no data like more data”, the coming decade will involve a greater expansion of the Digital Silk Road. 133 By China bringing North African semi-authoritarian and authoritarian states under its wings, it will gradually shift the balance of power.

decade in which AI enters the battlefields, dragging states into more volatile conflicts. Against the backdrop of ideological tensions and economic disputes, big data and AI will undoubtedly exacerbate global hostility and create festering regional insecurities. While technology can become key to social progress, the 2020s urgently needs a comprehensive social contract for the use of big data and AI to alleviate the forthcoming political and military risks.

Sara Seppanen is a third-year BA War Studies undergraduate at King’s College London. Her research interest falls within Intelligence Studies, a field in which she particularly focuses on cyber security and digital threat intelligence. In the summer of 2019, Sara completed an internship at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Library of Military History.


The 2020s will see the prioritisation of big data above human rights, especially in developing countries finding their way in a world caught up in an AI arms race and obsession for technological leaps. Nevertheless, China is not the only player in the AI game, as the United States is still a dominant power in the field. While the United States has shown little potential to outbid China in its North African influence, the former seems to be leading a dangerous way in the militarisation of AI. Arguably, this trend represents another great risk to global security, as the United States, worried about losing its dominant technological position, might rush to the arsenals of pentagon to introduce AI. Not only does this raise ethical concerns regarding the appropriateness of autonomous weapons systems, but it also risks resulting in the global powers harnessing technology that they are yet to fully understand. As China launched its military-civil fusion strategy to advance AI in the defence sector and PLA, the United States has cause for concern. 134 While the militarisation of technology is nothing new, only judging from the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the integration of AI in defence is an advancement which we have not fully reckoned with. 135 Whilst AI development is not linear, as evident from decades of boom and bust, its military development is now a privatised and outsourced business which has increased rate of innovation. As a consequence, the 2020s is likely to become the

124. Cukier, Kenneth. Big data is better data. (TED Talk, 23 September 2014) URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pHzROP1D-w [Accessed 7 December 2019] 125. “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data”, The Economist (6 May 2017) URL: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2017/05/06/the-worlds-most-valuable-resource-isno-longer-oil-but-data [Accessed 7 December 2019] 126. Friedberg, Aaron. “The Future of U.S.-China Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?” International Security Vol.30.2 (Fall 2005) 127. Puyvelde, Damien, Hossain, Shahriar and Coulthart, Stephen. “National security relies more and more on big data. Here's why”, The Washington Post (27 September 2017) URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/09/27/national-security-relies-more-and-more-on-big-data-heres-why/ [Accessed 7 December 2019] 128. “China’s Digital Silk Road: Strategic Technological Competition and Exporting Political Illiberalism”, Council on Foreign Relations (26 September 2019) URL: https://www.cfr.org/blog/chinas-digital-silk-road-strategic-technological-competition-and-exporting-political [Accessed 7 December 2019] 129. “China talks of building a “Digital Silk Road””, The Economist (31 May 2018) URL: https://www.economist.com/china/2018/05/31/china-talks-of-building-a-digital-silkroad[Accessed 7 December 2019] 130. Nigel Inkster, “Huawei debacle throws spotlight on China’s technology ambitions”, International Institute of Strategic Studies (10 December 2018) URL: https://www.iiss.org/blogs/analysis/2018/12/huawei-china [Accessed 7 December 2019] 131. El Kadi, Tin Hinane. “The Promise and Peril of the Digital Silk Road”, Chatham House (6 June 2019) URL: https://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/promise-and-peril-digital-silk-road [Accessed 7 December 2019] 132. Lee, Kai Fu. AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019) p.14 133. West, Darren and Allen, John. “How Artificial Intelligence Is Transforming the World”, The Brookings Institution (24 April 2018) URL: https://www.brookings.edu/research/how-artificial-intelligence-is-transforming-the-world/ [Accessed 7 December 2019] 134. Hille, Kathrin and Waters, Richard. “Washington unnerved by China’s military-civil fusion”, The Financial Times (8 November 2018) URL: https://www.ft.com/content/8dcb534c-dbaf-11e8-9f04-38d397e6661c [Accessed 7 December 2019] 135. Kissinger, Henry. “How the Enlightenment Ends”, The Atlantic (June 2018) URL: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/06/henry-kissinger-ai-couldmean-the-end-of-human-history/559124/ [Accessed 7 December 2019] Photo Credits: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjYvsGl6sHmAhVPJBoKHRPSDcIQjRx6BAgBEAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.duihuahrjournal. org%2F2019%2F08%2Ffortifying-great-firewall.html&psig=AOvVaw3cu58R0K-Xu9780aKMuCHF&ust=1576848952865066 https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiZltnj6sHmAhUJxYUKHbNLCeIQjRx6BAgBEAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.economist. com%2Fchina%2F2018%2F01%2F04%2Fchinas-great-firewall-is-rising&psig=AOvVaw3cu58R0K-Xu9780aKMuCHF&ust=1576848952865066




The World in 2030 BY WILLIAM MARSHALL Vice President, KCL Geopolitical Risk Society & Editor-in-Chief of KCL GPRIS Risk Report 2020

hat will be the form of the Brave New World we will inhabit in 2030? Who will be its key players? What will be the key geopolitical forces shaping the world, the macrotrends undergirding the global political, economic and technological order? This final section of the Risk2020 Report will seek to draw together the varied findings of the report and offer some overarching speculations as to the key forces driving global geopolitics in ten years’ time.


The 2020s: A Decade of New Frontiers The 2020s are likely to usher in a truly Brave New World as exponential technological advances, combined with mounting economic, demographic and climatic pressures give rise to multiple new theatres of geopolitical competition. As the Climate Emergency gathers pace and its geophysical effects become more apparent across the globe, a melting Arctic looks set to take centre-stage as regional powers; Russia, the U.S. and Canada seek to capture the rich natural resources preserved under the ice whilst even extra-regional actors, notably China, India and the EU have begun to articulate national strategies aimed at exploiting the North Pole’s geopolitical and geoeconomic potential via new commercial shipping lanes and mineral exploitation. This will likely occur in tandem with an increase in civil strife and intercommunal conflict, disproportionately concentrated in the world’s poorest and least developed countries as the secondary impacts of Climate Change, such as drought, famine and migration exacerbate deep-seated tribal, ethnic, national and regional groups, acting as a ‘threat multiplier’ for existing conflicts across MENA, South and Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.


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January 2020

Moreover, technological advances in the aerospace industry, combined with Earth’s resource scarcity provide increased economic incentives for industries with immense future potential such as asteroid mining, ushering in a possible ‘Scramble for Space’ as states and corporations vie for control over these lucrative revenue sources. More worrying is the potential militarisation of space, already foreshadowed by President Trump’s announcement of the ‘Space Force’ as the U.S. military’s eighth uniformed service, as military-industrial complexes exploit technological advances to extend their strategic advantages in outer space. Closer to home, the 2020s is likely to see the Fourth Industrial Revolution truly taking off. As the late 2010s have demonstrated through Russia’s employment of Artificial Intelligence for disinformation purposes during the 2016 U.S. elections, China’s ‘Digital Authoritarianism’ and the development of autonomous weaponry by militaries across the globe, the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its associated technologies, particularly AI, Robotics and 5G technology, offer almost infinite opportunities for geopolitical confrontation during the coming decade. The Revenge of History Whilst the 2020s is set to be a decade characterised by new frontiers, it is also likely to be shaped by the ‘Revenge of History’ as several of the macro-historical trajectories taken for granted over the past decades trend in reverse. Perhaps the most obvious of these is the continued pivot of the global centre of economic gravity towards Asia. For much of recorded human history until 1850, China and India possessed by far the highest proportion of the global population and GDP. The fact that current projections show China as the world’s largest economic power, and India as its most populous nation-state by 2030, with smaller states such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines expected to experience some of the highest proportional GDP growth throughout the 2020s suggest that the shift back towards Asia’s historical pre-eminence will continue unabated. China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, seeking to reconstitute the ancient Silk Road across Eurasia, is evidence of the ambition of Asian powers to exploit their newfound economic prominence for geopolitical gain. Moreover, whilst global economic growth is likely to continue apace, this growth will be distributed in an increasingly uneven manner in both developed and emerging economies, thus

creating de-facto segregated parallel societies, with prohibitive living costs in leading global cities such as London, San Francisco, Tokyo and Beijing excluding all but the wealthiest and most educated from taking advantages of such hubs of the global economy. This is likely to further fan the flames of grievance, populism and identity politics as exemplified by Brexit and Trump. Interlaced with this, the 2020s are likely to see a continuation of the rise of identity politics and separatism illustrated during the 2010s in Scotland, Catalonia and Kurdistan to name but a few. As the ‘losers’ of globalisation become increasingly disenfranchised with the existing political and economic order, a reversion to localism, regionalism and nationalism is set to encourage a wave of separatist and autonomist forces, with existing candidates for independence to be joined by new contenders, such as Flanders, Bavaria and Venice, with all the domestic and international volatility this will cause. The Future of Global Order Perhaps the most significant question is over the possible nature of the global order come 2030. Nevertheless, Russian revanchism and the seemingly unstoppable Rise of China during the past decade demonstrate that the Post-Cold War era of U.S. unipolarity is well and truly over. There are two opposing possible trajectories for the future of global order. On one hand, a revived liberal democratic order may precipitate a diffusion of power and breakdown of the nation-state as sub- and supra-national organisations erode sovereignty and non-sovereign entities such as ‘Big Tech’ and transnational civil society organisations curbs the states’ autonomy to act in its interests. A more likely outcome, given the global shift in power towards the East and rising populism in the West, is a return to a world of great power competition. As security experts across the West have long asserted, a resurgent Russia and Rising China pose the greatest threat to a strained liberal international order. Whilst long-standing security issues in countries such as Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan are unlikely to abate anytime soon, these conflicts are likely to take on new dimensions as the epicentres of a new ‘Great Game’ of geopolitical competition. Fortunately, outright military confrontation remains extremely improbable, at least during the next decade. However, as Moscow’s actions in Syria and Ukraine and Beijing’s recent crackdowns in Hong Kong and Xinjiang demonstrate, a hybrid format, blending AI, disinformation, assassinations and insurgent tactics will increasingly become the new norm for geopolitical confrontations

across the globe. Further adding to this disrupted geopolitical order will be the rise of a plethora of regional actors; India, Brazil, Mexico, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia to name but a few likely contenders who appear set to play out their own rivalries via regional proxies, thus truly transforming the global order into a ‘New Great Game’. Whilst Word War III is unlikely to take place before 2030, what both these potential outcomes yield is a horizontal diffusion of power, with the U.S. as a primus inter pares taking a relative backseat in international affairs during the coming decade. ‘Unknown Unknowns’ Finally, perhaps the most pressing geopolitical risk of the coming decade is that of the ‘Unknown Unknown’. Whilst most threats outlined in this report stem, necessarily, from extrapolations of current trends ‘Unknown Unknowns’ are impossible to predict; those threats which come out of the blue, striking without prior warning and upending the geopolitical assumptions on which leaders and policymakers calculate their decisions in the process. The possibilities of such an upheaval during the 2020s are endless; the unforeseen ramifications of the 5G revolution, China’s democratisation, an unprecedented acceleration of climatic change, nuclear confrontation or even a global pandemic. Many of these scenarios seem far-fetched, yet such paradigm-shifting events, such as 9/11 or the collapse of the USSR, have occurred before in recent history and are likely to do so again. The occurrence of such an event has the potential to overturn several of the fundamental assumptions on which political risk analysis is predicated, thus upending even the most meticulous forecasts of future trajectories of geopolitical threat. In conclusion, we stand at the dawn of a Brave New World, one filled with immense opportunities as well as profound challenges. The 2020s are set to be characterised by seismic technological, economic and environmental shifts which will send geopolitical shockwaves through our world. Yet such paradigm shifts have an equal potential to be a force for order and stability amidst a world in transition. What we can be sure of, however, is that the World in 2030 will be a radically different place to the world in which we inhabit today.



Copyright Š King's College London Geopolitical Risk Society Published January 2020. All rights reserved.

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Risk 2020: Our World in the Next Decade  

Welcome to KCL Geopolitical Risk Society’s second annual risk report. Building on the success of KCL GPRIS’s in- augural Risk 2019 Report, t...

Risk 2020: Our World in the Next Decade  

Welcome to KCL Geopolitical Risk Society’s second annual risk report. Building on the success of KCL GPRIS’s in- augural Risk 2019 Report, t...

Profile for kclgpris