The National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends report comes out every four years. This year’s “Paradox of Progress” does not bring much novelty when it comes to the list of global trends considered [summary p. 6]. The three scenarii (islands, orbits, communities) piqued my curiosity a little more, in particular the third one discussing the future of governing. In this scenario, successful countries are those who manage to share governing power with local authorities and non-state actors when responding to citizens’ needs. The idea is that national governments retain “hard power” (eg security) while “soft power” is decentralized both geographically and to other actors with technology providing some kind of partnership gel. And there is an emphasis on the growing power of human agency. International organizations get revived because they know how to bring multi-stakeholder partnerships [yes, this non-UN document uses such term] to life. I’d also recommend the first annex [p.85] offering a 3-page five-year outlooks for each region. The Artic/Antarctica and space sections are exciting, not least because they are presented as regions where international cooperation may have the brightest near future. They also got me thinking that most UN agencies do not have a regional office for these parts of the world (nor for the deep and high seas for that matter). And yet, they will increasingly matter for next generations and the natural resources, food, and habitat they will need. Should we consider piloting a desk for polar, space and sea?
It was Davos week. Global reports flooded the Swiss resort. Oxfam did it again: for the fourth year in a row they grabbed headline news with their inequality report showing that the 8 richest men have as much wealth as the poorest half of the world population. The Commission on Business and Sustainable Development report argued that $12 trillion of market opportunities could be unlocked by 2030 if companies embraced a sustainable growth model. And the Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer, surveying 30,000 people in 28 countries, unpacked the global trust crisis. Trust in institutions is declining across the board from governments and businesses to NGOs and the media. More than half of interviewees, including those with high-income and college degree, believe that the system is failing them. The credibility of government leaders and CEOs is at all-time low. The most credible person today is a peer (“person like yourself”). Information coming from a spontaneous speaker, relating to personal experience, and communicated via a company’s social media is more likely to be perceived as true than information with a more traditional format, style and channel. The report thus calls for a communication model that work “with the people” rather than “for the people”.
Two weeks ago, I flagged exciting trends for renewable energy generation. But green power can only boom with matching prospects on the storage and distribution fronts. This graph from the International Finance Corporation’s “Energy storage trends and opportunities in Emerging markets” offers just that. It forecasts that “energy storage deployments in emerging markets worldwide are expected to grow by over 40 percent annually in the coming decade”.
My quote this week is from Andrew Sullivan’s “I used to be a human being”: “If you had to reinvent yourself as a writer in the internet age, I reassured myself, then I was ahead of the curve. The problem was that I hadn’t been able to reinvent myself as a human being.”