2019 discussion

Trend one: Security

The global order established following the fall of the Berlin wall and the Soviet Union, where Western industrialised powers enjoyed undisputed global importance and pre-eminence, is giving way/has given way to a new world (dis)order where it becomes/has become increasingly likely/evident that no single state, or group of states, will be able to direct global affairs alone, introducing new elements of uncertainty and instability into international relations.

While the United States is likely to remain the preeminent global military, if not economic, power for the short to medium term, the global system will become an increasingly contested space, between and within states, with new and emerging powers seeking to assert themselves on global business, affairs and values, leading to new areas of state competition and cooperation. Moreover, former distinctions between internal and external spaces and threats have evolved since the Cold War, given we live in a globalising world, set in the context of all-pervasive digital connectivity.

How the US, EU, Japan, UK and other likeminded global partners seek to shape and steer global military and security relationships (not only bilaterally, but through institutions such as NATO and the UN) in a new age of geopolitics, international and domestic terrorism against a backdrop of shifting economic and political gravity will be crucial in determining if the world can address not only the security challenges associated with the epochal shift of global power to Asia, Africa and China in particular, but also those arising from the development of new military and cyber technologies.

China presents a unique challenge, seeking to leverage its developing economic and military muscle to spread power and influence, though initiatives such as Belt and Road or its unprecedented involvement in infrastructure development in African countries. These initiatives, planned to be rolled out over the course of the next 30 years or more, will create a range of opportunities, challenges and threats to the UK and its world allies, whose influence on global issues will probably be tied to their ability to leverage hard and soft power.

In order to positively address these issues, both business and the government in the UK will need to demonstrate not only a capacity and resolve to defend and safeguard the rules based international order and its principles, including guaranteeing sufficient spending on defence, but also to shore up and support the framework of a strong Atlantic alliance, a strong UK-EU27 partnership, as well of course, as a strong NATO.

Feedback - Security breakout

Key discussion points

  • Climate change, technological advancement and demography and migration will be primary security challenges in the mid-term. Developed countries will prove more able to adapt than developing countries.
  • In this new environment, states with porous borders, weak internal security or ungoverned spaces could see their viability as states challenged.
  • Geopolitical factors will continue to be important. A multipolar world appears likely rather than a new cold war. The rise of China will increasingly be seen in triangulation with the US and the EU. China is drawing countries into its orbit with its’ Belt and Road Initiative.

Ideas and conclusions

  • There is a scenario, that the future of security will be less about geopolitics and more about border control, state survival, and coping with threats of surveillance.
  • Thus, states will either choose to be proactive in engaging with the global south, or find themselves responding to crises. In a multipolar world states may not have the capacity or strong global institutions to act either proactively or reactively.
  • States could choose to close themselves off from the global system. However, this will require extensive security measures, such as surveillance, that will challenge liberal democratic institutions. .

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