The world is leaving a period of relative stability to enter a time of profound transformation of the global order. The past decade has been characterised by volatility and disruption, leading to continual adaptation and transformation at local, regional and global levels alike. For some analysts, global instability is ‘the new normal’, where disorder and tension have gradually replaced two decades of relative stability across the world. Since 2012, conflicts have been on the rise, with the number of civil wars and attacks perpetrated by states and armed groups increasing for the first time in a decade. Violent extremism, terrorism and hybrid threats have grown to constitute new sources of major risks to security, peace and stability around the world. An understanding of the current global risks landscape necessitates concepts and knowledge going far beyond the traditional interpretations of war and peace. This is why the EU is taking stock of mega-trends and catalysts in regular exercises such as the ESPAS mechanism, which covers a large number of international and intra-national variables. In the 2019 ESPAS report, the EU is addressing conventional threats, such as military build-up and international instability, but also climate change, demography, urbanism, energy, migrations and robotics. Similarly, in 2019, a survey by the World Economic Forum ranked environmental threats, such as extreme weather events, failure of climate change mitigation and natural disasters among the top three global risks in terms of likelihood and impact, together with weapons of mass destruction, data fraud and cyber-attacks. The multidimensional nature of the emerging threats necessitates new approaches to peace and security, merging conventional notions of power with new scientific methods, including foresight, to assess the impact of variables such as natural resources, demographics and technology in the formulation of policy. In the words of the EU Global Strategy (EUGS), ‘we live in a world of predictable unpredictability’.
Threats to peace and security in the current global environment
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