The world order, almost dictated and instigated by a wide range of factors and variables, is always evolving, leaving the realities of yesteryears in history and introducing newer dynamics, regimes and paradigms, speakers said at a discussion.
They said there are always newer trends emerging on the horizon, following the inclusions of the slightest of alterations in the spheres of politics, economy and strategy.
President of Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) Major General (retd) ANM Muniruzzaman and Editor of Dhaka Tribune Zafar Sobhan harboured and showcased similar sentiments in their opening remarks at the BIPSS-Dhaka Tribune roundtable titled, “Global Trends 2022” held at a city hotel on Sunday.
The roundtable was attended by a number of diplomats, scholars, security experts, and youth representatives from various disciplines.
BIPSS President Muniruzzaman highlighted the key facets and variables concerning global trends, the plausible economic shocks and the “consequences of consequences”.
“We live in an interconnected world. A scenario anywhere is a scenario everywhere,” he said while also mentioning that trade, economy, security and strategy are just a few issues that we have to tackle among many.
Muniruzzaman indicated that they are in the process of “global urbanisation” and talked about the emergence of megacities, especially in South Asia, and the overarching influence of this towards the global trends.
He discussed the global surge in populism, introduction of a data driven world, emergence of “disruptive technologies.”
Muniruzzaman elaborated that this year all need to revisit, rework and reinvigorate their relationship with the earth to overcome major pertinent security threats such as food, water and energy insecurities.
He said they ought to comprehend events that will shape the future and never rule out “Black Swan” incidents, like the possibilities of incidents like solar geomagnetic events that could potentially disrupt, or even destroy communications and other technology upon which we have become so dependent.
One of the keynote speakers and CPD Distinguished Fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya emphasised the major dimension in terms of economic and global trends, pandemic and vaccinations.
He also highlighted the existing disparity and the possibility that the inequity in terms of vaccinations might soldier on.
The economist identified the disruptiveness of the year 2020, and although things started to look up in the year 2021, that is slowly “withering away” with the emerging economic uncertainties.
He identified upcoming challenges for Bangladesh in the economic spectrum and the absolute need to remain vigilant to cope with these uncertainties.
Delving into the trends associated with technology and security, second keynote speaker Shafqat Munir, Research Fellow at BIPSS, highlighted the various potential flashpoints, introduction of newer domains of warfare, hybrid warfare and the unabated arms race.
The potential flashpoints that came to the forefront included Ukraine and European security, showcasing the absolute tension existent between Ukraine and Russia.
The Taiwan Strait also came on the front burner again with strong advocacy within Taiwan for independence, while escalating tensions with China.
Tensions also evidently escalated between China and India too, which has direct implications for Bangladesh.
Shafqat Munir also highlighted the other existing trends such as the unabated arms race slowly looming around the corner, the increased levels of contestation, militarization and competing strategies in the maritime domain.
He discussed the recurring frequency of hybrid wars and how it’ll be a “Game Changer” and highlighted the technological trends, emphasizing upon the role of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Augmented reality and how this whole technological trend will completely reshape our perception of reality.
He put forth the recommendation that Bangladesh ought to integrate Artificial Intelligence and Robotics into our daily lives to “Stay Ahead of the Curve.”
Pondering upon the broader geo-political and strategic trends, the third keynote speaker, Dr. Lailufar Yasmin, Professor, at the department of International Relations, University of Dhaka, started with the emphasis of economics, the interconnected world that we live in, and the ‘Butterfly Effect’ in action, by exemplifying the outbreak of Covid-19 in Wuhan and it eventually caused political, social and economic challenges all over the world.
Highlighting environmental issues, she pointed to the dangers of climate change and change in weather patterns with the onset of extreme winters and extreme summers.
She also pointed out Ukraine, the Korean peninsula, China and Taiwan and their geo-political realities, the growing significance of the Bay of Bengal with mechanisms like AUKUS emerging on the scene. She also highlighted the conflicts and destabilizations, notably the recent developments in Burkina Faso.
On the social front, there was a growing aging population in western countries and the potential for Bangladesh to send semi-skilled labour in order to meet the consequent demand there, rather than the practice of sending unskilled labour.
Lailufar Yasmin also pointed to mental health issues during the pandemic, including the stress of joblessness and so on.
Thanking everyone, Zafar Sobhan ended on a rather ambivalent note, highlighting the change in terms of dynamic and paradigms and saying that “We can’t talk of 2022 in isolation. It is the start of a new world. The pandemic has put the world in a deep freeze from which we are now emerging.”