Prevent Geopolitical Turmoil with Better Governance, More Stakeholders

14 Jan 2016

Oliver Cann, Public Engagement, Tel.: +41 (0)79 799 3405, email

Prevent Geopolitical Turmoil with Better Governance, More Stakeholders

Without improved governance at the global and national levels, the world risks sleepwalking into widespread chaos or major war, warns the Security Outlook 2030, a special chapter in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2016 report

Strategic competition between strong states coupled with failure of weak states is seen as greatest threat and, with climate change, has the potential to profoundly affect the international security landscape

The report argues that a broader range of stakeholders needs to be involved in maintaining international security in the future, and that overhauling the social contract between citizens and their governments could address the underlying drivers of many security threats

The full report is available here; for more information about the Annual Meeting 2016, visit

London, United Kingdom, 14 January 2016 – With the world contemplating another year of geopolitical uncertainty and the international security landscape in flux, urgent action to improve governance at the international and national levels and the involvement of a wider cross-section of stakeholders could prevent the international security landscape from taking a dystopian turn in the next 15 years.

The Security Outlook 2030, a special chapter in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2016 report, presents three scenarios of how the international security landscape could look in 2030:

The Walled Cities scenario foresees widening inequalities continuing to pull communities apart, with the wealthy retreating to privately-secured gated communities as public services fracture and chaos and lawlessness spread.

Strong Regions paints a picture of stable geopolitics with several seats of power. Mutual respect among strong leaders holds the system together, which emphasizes the pursuit of narrowly defined national interests over global commons.

War and Peace envisages two powers drifting into major conflict as they dispute responsibility for a devastating cyberattack on critical infrastructure, ultimately resulting in a reworking of a stripped-down global system and greater agency of more sectors in international security.

A Call to Action

The report describes these potential evolutions of the international security landscape to 2030 as a call to action for the development of more adaptable and resilient response systems.

Experts consulted for the report identified two main phenomena characterizing the current international security landscape: strategic competition among strong states and an increasing number of weak states. The weakness of some states has left a governance vacuum that is being filled by armed non-state actors, from violent extremist groups such as ISIS to organized criminal gangs. Meanwhile, after 25 years of relative tranquillity following the end of the Cold War, strategic competition among the great powers is again on the rise, from Eastern Ukraine to the Middle East to the South China Sea.

Looking ahead over the next 15 years, the international security landscape is likely to be profoundly affected by increasing competition for resources, such as water and land, due to climate change. Likewise, technological innovations could revolutionize the nature of conflict, from autonomous weapons systems to 3D-printed weaponry to genetically engineered biological weapons. Understanding these changes and formulating responses to the risks they represent will be essential for leaders when contemplating the years ahead.

The report argues for action to manage evolving international security risks, from rethinking social contracts and global governance mechanisms to finding new ways of engaging the private sector. Anja Kaspersen, Head of International Security and Member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum, said: “We cannot afford to wait for crises to shock us into action. We need to identify potential inflection points and focus on finding solutions rather than just containing problems.”

Espen Barth Eide, Managing Director and Head of Geopolitical Affairs at the World Economic Forum, stated: “A wider range of stakeholders needs to be involved in setting the direction of the new global security paradigm and implementing solutions.”

Jim Hagemann Snabe, Chairman of the Centre for Global Industries, Chairman of World Economic Forum USA and Member of the Board of Trustees of the World Economic Forum, added: “In today’s boardrooms, there is a tremendous sense of uncertainty about geopolitics. With a stronger understanding of the issues and the role of the private sector, business leaders will be better able to make the decisions needed to tackle the security challenges we are facing.”

Author: Media Team
All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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