Image: Getty Images (Jeff Swensen / Stringer)
Image: Getty Images (LIONEL BONAVENTURE / Contributor)
Reducing exposure to today’s risks may increase vulnerabilities to the next conflict or crisis, unless care is taken to anticipate scenarios and map dependencies.
Geopolitical competition, alongside extreme climatic events, will almost certainly remain the major sources of risk and volatility in 2024. The risk dimensions of artificial intelligence are also very likely to become tangibly more apparent. With limited fiscal capacity and political unity left from the economic and geopolitical disruptions of recent years, the impacts of such risks are likely to be amplified by a growing resilience deficit worldwide.
We assess that almost a third of countries worldwide have a worsening security and stability outlook over the coming year, including China, France, Germany, North Korea, Pakistan and Russia. Whereas only 11 countries are likely to see an improvement, among them Ethiopia, Syria and Turkiye. For the remaining majority of countries, the overall stability trajectory we assess is broadly consistent, albeit for many this means a continuation of volatility.
There are many reasons for this broadly negative outlook, but geopolitical risks sit at the centre. In Strategic Outlook 2023: The Global Unravelling we argued that the systems, institutions and orders that have underpinned relative global stability and security for decades are unravelling and taking new forms. Globalisation, trade agreements, political systems, ecosystems, climate systems, supply chains, security alliances, systems of influence and patronage, civil rights, the nuclear order and the multilateral global order are all in various states of flux and transformation.
None of these dynamics have changed. This means that the potential for risk events to occur more often, be amplified and made more enduring in their impacts, and with wider knock-on effects will persist in the coming years in every region. This includes not only political crises and security events but the effects of extreme weather on food supply and economic growth. All of these threaten to sustain inflation and fiscal pressure, and keep states and global enterprises alike on the backfoot and at risk of not building longer term resilience.
The Resilience Gap