No-one can predict the future but as my first term studying International Development draws to a close we have been asked to do just that. Did we reduce climate change? Do we still have NGOs? What happened to ISIS and the refugee crisis? Are people still ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’? Who knows?! Here is my optimistic guess as to what the world will look like in 30 years time.
Before I begin let me first congratulate myself on how well I have aged, maybe 48 isn’t so bad after all!
Over the last 30 years we have managed to keep climate change below the 2 degree mark, originally negotiated at Copenhagen in 2009 and re-established at COP21 in 2015, however the lower limit of 1.5 degrees was passed long ago. Most countries experience mass draughts and floods throughout the year encouraging mass migration from smaller tropical islands which have almost been eradicated by sea level rises. One of the most significant changes made to help reduce climate change was the switch from coal to nuclear energy after more funds were put towards developing it. Unlike in the past we now use the depleted uranium from plants so that there is next to no radioactive waste and it is completely renewable (Gates, 2015). Furthermore, investigations into the link between eating meat and climate change also brought about some new answers to the problem. Boer, Schösler and Boersema (2013) claimed that “global livestock production is responsible for around 12% of global greenhouse gas emissions”. It was difficult to initialise a wide spread reduction in meat consumption due to a range of factors including climate change scepticism and meat consumption is still increasing but at a steadier rate than that of 30 years ago. Reminders on food packages as to where the meat comes from as well as the health risks that come with a high animal protein diet help to influence a more vegetarian lifestyle.
With regard to ISIS and the refugee crisis, the violence in the Middle East continued for some time and so did the influx of refugees into Europe. It took many failed airstrikes before the US and the UK sent in troops to defeat the rebels on the ground (Ferguson 2015). The war went on for over a decade. Even now less than 50% of migrants have returned home to Syria and its surrounding countries.
As for development actors we here, in the development sector, have seen quite a big shift in the last couple of decades to a more corporate outlook. For years the impact of major corporations in the development arena was overlooked and often criminalised with prejudices of exploitation, law evasion etc. however their influence is now dominating the development scene. Multinational corporations have helped economic growth, poverty reduction, employment creation and even issues of sustainability as well as helping to develop the food sector thanks to their readily available finance, expertise, technology development and not forgetting their influence over foreign governance (Davis 2012, p.1-3). Since the prospect of corporate investment came to the forefront of aid we have found that good governance has been encouraged and sustained, in most ‘underdeveloped’ countries, as no corporation will invest in a structure less state. However this positive leap is not without its setbacks. It is true that some corporations are investing in the global south for their own gains, cheap labour and pollution tax avoidance are desirable but this is few and far between.
Overall this is not the same world I grew up in. Climate change is slowly becoming less of an uncontrollable threat, new technology is taking over the planet and international corporations are the new sweethearts of development.
And yes, we are still ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’.
Adams, C and Thornhill, J. (2015) Gates to double investment in renewable energy projects, Financial Times. [Online] 25th June. Available from: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/4f66ff5c-1a47-11e5-a130-2e7db721f996.html#axzz3tM5qUOzZ [Accessed: 04/12/15]
Davis, Peter (2012) Let business do business: the role of the corporate sector in international development, London: Overseas Development Institute.
De Boer, J., Schösler, H., & Boersema, J. J. (2013). Climate change and meat eating: An inconvenient couple? Journal of Environmental Psychology, 33, 1-8.
Lukacs, M. (2015) Will Bill Gates and his billionaire friends save the planet? The Guardian. [Online] 1st December. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2015/dec/01/will-bill-gates-and-his-billionaire-friends-save-the-planet [Accessed: 02/12/15]
Sky News. (2015) Attenborough Wants Road Map For Climate Action. [Online] Available from: http://news.sky.com/story/1596335/attenborough-wants-road-map-for-climate-action [Accessed: 02/12/15]