Every year, the Global Futures Forum (GFF) provides a platform to engage in strategic-level dialogue and research to better understand and anticipate transnational threats. Bringing together intelligence, national security, and non-governmental experts from Europe, Asia and America, this year’s meeting focused on how natural resource relationships across Eurasia may shape the global security landscape for the next 15-20 years.
The presentations and discussions focused on important and disruptive drivers and explored different possible pathways for the next 20 years. One of the central themes of the discussion was that the world is entering an era of volatile transitions: How will the emerging economies continue their pathway towards industrialisation? How will China develop on a political level? How will the global energy transition be managed? How will the shale gas revolution impact US strategy in the Middle East?
These transitions will have to be managed under stress conditions. While increased international cooperation seems to be decisive to face these challenges, global governance institutions do not seem to be fit for an increasingly multipolar world. Environmental challenges are also increasing as growing environmental impacts and climate change are converging. At the same time, the resilience of the just-in-time economy is decreasing and global transport networks and their geographic choke points such as the Strait of Hormuz are becoming increasingly vulnerable.
This means that policy makers will be faced with very profound decisions in the near future. Two pathways stand out as exemplifying the challenges and strategic choices: Either countries respond in an early and comprehensive manner and enter a path towards reform or they do not act forcefully enough and are trapped in a spiral down towards a more existential crisis. Both pathways are also closely linked to the ability of states to manage global resource flows and maintain systemic stability. Will competition over resources further increase? Will they act as threat multipliers or used to foster cooperation?