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Globalisation

ESPAS Report 2019 : Global Trends to 2030

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, April 5, 2019
Abstract in English: 
For something as unknown as the future, it appears to have become surprisingly predictable. A Google search of ‘future 2030’ yields more than 97 million results, all more or less claiming similar things: that 2030 will see a more connected, yet fragmented world, with hazardous shifts in demography and energy, and dangerous changes in technology, environment, and politics.
The future, while overall negative, appears to be a rather certain place.
This illusion of definitiveness is created by two dynamics: first, the pessimistic tone that runs through the vast majority of foresight reports. This is a common feature when it comes to future thinking, with one study showing that all studies undertaken on the future over the last 70 years have one thing in common; pessimism. The reason for this is simple: although both optimism and pessimism are natural human dispositions, the latter is more prevalent by far. Humans are, genetically speaking, biased towards the negative – some studies even indicate that this is particularly the case for Europeans. Second, pessimism in foresight is encouraged by the grave air that surrounds it: in general, negative statements are given more attention than positive ones. That said, more pessimism in foresight does not equal greater accuracy, as one study shows.
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52
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Unexpected Developments in International Politics. Foresight Contributions 2018

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Abstract in English: 
How might we have to imagine the Middle East if there were a political thaw between Iran and Saudi Arabia? Could Turkey leave NATO in the near future? What would happen if security-related EU databases were successfully hacked; if South Korea were to arm itself with nuclear weapons; or if an American woman were to head the United Nations? Of course, these situations, as explored in the SWP’s latest Foresight research paper, are only hypothetical. Why address them? Because unexpected events have abounded in international politics in recent years. Brexit; the election of Donald Trump as US President; and Russia’s annexation of Crimea are only the most striking examples. Science and politics should therefore ready themselves for likely future surprises. The Foresight research paper aims to assist with this. We cannot and do not want to predict the future. However, with the help of systematic foresight we can better prepare for unplanned situations. This means improving our view of conceivable – albeit unlikely – developments that would seriously impact on German and European foreign and security policy. It also includes reviewing previous expectations – as this research paper likewise tackles. What actually happened to the battery revolution that was supposed to secure our power supply? Did the negotiation process on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU unfold as experts had anticipated? Such reviews are instructive, and can be used to gain insights for the future.
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50
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How Canada, the EU, and the U.S. Can Work Together to Promote ICT Development and Use

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, June 15, 2018
Abstract in English: 
Governments in Europe and North America want to harness information and communications technology (ICT) to boost productivity and innovation, but uncoordinated strategies and incompatible regulations make it difficult for them to benefit fully from the mutual gains that would come from greater transatlantic cooperation in the development and use of ICT. This report analyzes key policies shaping ICT innovation in Canada, the European Union, and the United States, and identifies opportunities for policymakers to ensure policies maximize productivity and innovation.
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59
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How National Governments Can Help Smart Cities Succeed

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, October 30, 2017
Abstract in English: 
Cities around the world are undergoing two important transformations. First, they are growing. For the first time in history, a majority of the world’s population lives in urban areas.1 Second, they are beginning to evolve into “smart cities”—cities capable of collecting and analyzing vast quantities of data to automate processes, improve service quality, provide market signal feedback to users, and to make better decisions. While city governments can and should manage much of this transformation, national governments have an important role to play in accelerating and coordinating the development of smart cities. Indeed, the long-term success of smart cities in any particular nation will likely depend on whether the national government supports their development.
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27
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Global Economic Prospects - Darkening Skies

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Abstract in English: 
Global growth is expected to slow to 2.9 percent in 2019. International trade and investment are moderating, trade tensions remain elevated, and financing conditions are tightening. Amid recent episodes of financial stress, growth in emerging market and developing economies has lost momentum and is projected to stall at 4.2 percent this year, with a weaker-than-expected rebound in commodity exporters accompanied by deceleration in commodity importers. Downside risks have become more acute. Financial market pressures and trade tensions could escalate, denting global activity.
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264
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Our Shared Digital Future Building an Inclusive, Trustworthy and Sustainable Digital Society

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, December 10, 2018
Abstract in English: 
Our Shared Digital Futures is a publication shaped by leaders from business, government, academia and civil society who collectively acknowledge the need for shared goals and coordinated action to shape an inclusive, sustainable, digital future. Facilitated by the World Economy Forum’s System Initiative on Digital Economy and Society, the paper reviews current status, offers an illustrative list of ongoing initiatives at global and local levels, and identifies developments to watch in at least six shared goals around universal internet access and adoption, digital transformation, digital identity, governance, cyber resilience, and data. It calls on global leaders and organisations to strengthen cooperation and to evolve shared platforms for shaping our digital future.
The publication seeks to serve as a conversation starter, as the world celebrates the milestone of more than half of the world’s population now connected to the internet, and while less than half of those already online trust that technology will make their lives better.
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48
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The Global Risks Report 2019

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Abstract in English: 
Is the world sleepwalking into a crisis? Global risks are intensifying but the collective will to tackle them appears to be lacking. Instead, divisions are hardening. The world’s move into a new phase of strongly state-centred politics, noted in last year’s Global Risks Report, continued throughout 2018. The idea of “taking back control”— whether domestically from political rivals or externally from multilateral or supranational organizations— resonates across many countries and many issues. The energy now expended on consolidating or recovering national control risks weakening collective responses to emerging global challenges. We are drifting deeper into global problems from which we will struggle to extricate ourselves.
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114
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MNC Trend Report 2018 - The Future of Work

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Abstract in English: 
The 8th MNC Trend Report provides an overview of the company information contained in the SA MNC Database. The database includes company finances, operations, remuneration and geographical spread of 91 South African MNCs that operate across Africa. The MNC Database has been populated with this information since 2008, which provides a unique dataset from which to analyse financial trends. This report is focused on two main areas of study. Firstly, the financial trends of the 91 sampled companies are analysed within 14 economic sectors, including revenue growth as well as revenue compared to competitors. In addition to this, each company’s profit before tax (PBT) is analysed compared to its sector and competitors. Within this context, the remuneration strategies of the top level of directors is analysed. Finally, we take a quick look at the total remuneration packages of directors compared to the lowest employees in the company.
The last section of this report, titled ‘the Future of Work’, takes a closer look at the developments around the automation of jobs. This section aims to put this within the broader context of the developing world, as opposed to the developed world. It is questioned whether the reality in the developed world is a reality in Africa, and also makes some suggestions as to how unions and workers can use technology to further their own agendas.
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94
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Is the Internet Eroding Europe’s Middle Ground?

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, December 17, 2018
Abstract in English: 
Within Europe, public debate has become increasingly concerned with issues of identity, belonging and threats associated with ‘out-groups’ (such as immigrants and refugees). These issues are the focus of many insurgent populist parties, which are shaping debates in many countries across Europe.
When asked to identify the most important issue facing Europe, survey respondents in 2017 gave the highest rankings to terrorism and immigration – two issues that provoke public debate on the threat of minority ‘out-groups’ to majority ‘in-groups’.
Polarisation is reflected in deeper divisions and distrust between opposing groups. There are many indicators of increasing polarisation in European societies (though no agreed measure or major comparative study).
The issues around which polarisation is taking place are especially related to national identity, culture and inclusion, between people who espouse cosmopolitan values and people who espouse traditional cultural and nationalist values.
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26
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Can Blockchain revolutionize international trade?

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, January 12, 2018
Abstract in English: 
Trade has always been shaped by technological innovation. In recent times, a new technology – Blockchain – has been greeted by many as the next big game-changer. This publication explores the question of whether Blockchain may revolutionize international trade.
Opening with an explanation of the technology, the publication goes on to analyse the relevance of this technology for international trade by reviewing how it is currently used and how it may potentially be used in the various areas covered by WTO rules. In doing so, it offers insights into the extent to which this technology could affect cross-border trade in goods and services and in intellectual property rights.
The publication also discusses the potential of Blockchain for reducing trade costs and enhancing supply chain transparency, as well as the opportunities it provides for small-scale producers and companies. It concludes with a review of various challenges that must be addressed before the technology can be used on a wide scale and have a significant impact on international trade.
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163
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