UNITED NATIONS – Rising food and energy prices, water scarcity, climate change and increasing migrations could fuel growing instability and violence around the world over the next decade, a report by a global think tank said last August 5.
But despite its grim forecast, the 2008 State of the Future report by the Millennium Project — a global think tank — insists that “advances in science, technology, education, economics and management seem capable of making the world work far better than it does today.”
It highlighted 15 global challenges, ranging from water and energy to organized crime and global ethics, that require priority attention.
It noted that half of the world was vulnerable to social instability and violence due to food and energy prices, failing states, water scarcity, climate change, dwindling food and energy supply per person, desertification and increasing migrations.
It said the US Center for Naval Analyses identified 46 countries (2.7 billion people) facing high risk of armed conflict, and another 56 states (1.2 billion people) at risk of political instability.
By mid-2008, it tallied 14 wars (conflicts with 1,000 or more deaths) — five in Africa, four in Asia, two in the Americas, two in the Middle East and one described as “worldwide anti-extremism.”
The report pointed to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization that 37 countries were facing a food crisis due to higher demand from rapidly developing countries, higher oil prices, use of crops as biofuels, high fertilizer costs and market speculation.
“Basic food prices are doubling around the world,” it said. “Price of cereals, for example, including wheat and rice, are up 129 percent since 2006. With nearly three billion people making two dollars or less per day, long-term global social conflict seems inevitable without more serious food policies, useful scientific breakthroughs and dietary changes.”
On the demographic front, it noted that the current world population of 6.7 billion was expected to reach 9.2 billion by 2050 and to peak soon afterward at 9.8 billion before slumping to 5.5 billion by 2100, according to the United Nations’s lower forecast. Agence France-Presse