Global risks 2035 update: Decline or new renaissance?
In the best case, we forecast a world headed toward multipolarity with limited multilateralism. At worst, we projected a multipolarity that devolved into another Cold War bipolarity—with China, Russia, and their partners pitted against the United States, Europe, Japan, and other allies. In that scenario, war seemed inevitable. The fracturing of the post-Cold War global system would be accompanied by internal fraying caused by technological advances. No one was spared. Robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing, and automation were already upending both skilled and unskilled occupations in the developed world. As the cost of robots came down and automation and 3D printing spread, still-struggling emerging markets could no longer rely on lower labor costs, as China did to fuel its rise. This is a far cry from the earlier notion that globalization and technological change would “lift all boats.” Under any scenario, many of the poorest of the developing countries will face stiffer, potentially existential, challenges linked to climate change, poor governance, higher incidences of civil conflict, and overpopulation. Climate change will impact everyone in the coming decades, but the poorest areas—sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia—will be hit hardest by increasing temperatures and rising sea levels.
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