The dramatic images from Lampedusa this fall have been a wake-up call. We have witnessed a human tragedy of major dimensions. A tragedy which must not be seen only as a compelling story of refugees trying to reach the European shores, but which necessitates an understanding of the underlying reasons for migration. There is a direct nexus between the resource scarcities experienced by local populations around the world, and the threat to regional security by large population movements impacting on adjacent regions and their societies.
Our global society is at a critical junction. Extraordinary economic progress and technological advances in some regions threaten to be upset by severe trends resulting from resource limits in other regions. These limits, which include water, food and energy security, may pose a challenge to national stability, to regional security and to economic growth. It requires urgent attention and a trans-sectoral as well as a global reassessment of our fundamental assumptions of how to respond.
Ongoing global political processes are struggling to cope with the magnitude and complexity of resource challenges. National interests and often short-term political and economic considerations are standing in the way of necessary decisive action. An almost automatic difference of views, approaches and mindsets between established powers and emerging economies seem to be blocking any breakthrough.
As we deal with pressing regional and international security challenges, we will also need to open a new space to think strategically about the future of our global society.
We need to understand that resource risks could result in even larger security threats, affecting entire regions and possible global stability. We need to start exploring solutions to meet these challenges, to find areas of convergence between our countries and societies to prevent these threats from materializing. We need to identify opportunities that could create win-win situations for all, which could drive new investments and cooperation and thus contribute to create long-term stability.
Our world is in the midst of a major geopolitical shift. New emerging powers are becoming important actors in a multi-polar international system, many of which are facing resource security dilemmas. Their ability to master domestic resource security challenges, within the realm of the global legal framework, will be a defining factor for their recognition as a responsible partner by others. Likewise, resource issues are pivotal also to the European
Union’s stability, with implications for energy security and immigration. A new vision of global long-term security has to be built on the basis of trust, opportunity and open borders. Interdependency has become a driving factor, as no country or even group of countries can meet these challenges alone. Therefore any successful process to identify the right solutions must include governments, business, finance and civil society, cutting across established silos and barriers.
The Earth Security Index provides a very valuable framework for this strategic discussion. Understanding the risks, involving all sectors, considering the inter-connections and mutual interests are necessary conditions in order for leaders to identify the opportunities
before them. Over the next year, the BMW Foundation and the Earth Security Initiative will use this framework and its underlying concepts of inter-dependent thinking and cross-sector convening, to bring together leaders and creative people from all these sectors to build preparedness for a rapidly changing world.
Chairman of the BMW Foundation
Former Ambassador of Germany to China