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  • Author: Dong He
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The globalized economy now moves at the speed of electrons — and the future of money is inexorably going digital, too. New forms of digital money, such as central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and so‐​called global stablecoins, are shaping the future of money and payments. CBDCs are a digital form of fiat currency issued by a central bank. Some central banks started exploring CBDCs a few years ago, and those explorations have gathered momentum since Facebook and its partners announced their intention to launch the Libra stablecoin in June 2019. Because the stablecoins issued by large technological companies or platforms (Big Techs) have the potential to be adopted by businesses and households everywhere, they are called “global stablecoins,” or GSCs, in shorthand.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Global Political Economy, Money, Currency, Trade
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nicola De Blasio, Fridolin Pflugmann
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The transition to a low-carbon energy system will likely shake up the geopolitical status quo that has governed global energy systems for over a century. Policymakers need to rethink the role their country could play in a new energy world. Renewables are widely perceived as an opportunity to shatter the hegemony of fossil fuel-rich states and democratize the energy landscape. Virtually all countries have access to some renewable energy resources (especially solar and wind power) and could thus substitute foreign supply with local resources. Our research shows, however, that the role countries are likely to assume in decarbonized energy systems will be based not only on their resource endowment but also on their policy choices. Renewable hydrogen is enjoying growing political and commercial momentum as a versatile and sustainable energy carrier with the potential to play a key role in the global transition to a low-carbon economy; and it is often described as the ‘missing link’ in global decarbonization—especially for energy intensive sectors where emissions are hard to abate and electrification is not the preferred solution, such as steel production, high-temperature industrial heat, shipping, aviation, and heat for buildings. But making renewable hydrogen a significant part of the world’s future energy mix will require defining new and innovative national and international policies while developing appropriate market structures aimed at spurring innovation along value chains; scaling technologies while significantly reducing costs; and deploying enabling infrastructure at scale. Success is possible, but this transformational effort will require close coordination between policy, technology, capital, and society to avoid falling into the traps and inefficiencies of the past. Renewable hydrogen can be used for both mobility and stationary applications. As a sustainable mobility energy carrier, it can power fuel-cell electric vehicles or be the base for synthetic fuels. In stationary applications, it can be used to store renewable energy, both at utility scale or off-grid, providing backup to intermittent renewable energy sources and serving as a carbon-free heating source. From a geopolitical perspective, whether future renewable hydrogen energy systems will be as concentrated as today’s oil and gas supply or decentralized like renewables is strongly related to future market structures, technology, and enabling infrastructure availability.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, Science and Technology, Geopolitics, Renewable Energy, Hydrogen
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Christian Ruhl, Duncan Hollis, Wyatt Hoffman, Tim Maurer
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As cyber insecurity has become a growing problem worldwide, states and other stakeholders have sought to increase stability for cyberspace. As a result, a new ecosystem of “cyber norm” processes has emerged in diverse fora and formats. Today, United Nations (UN) groups (for example, the Group of Governmental Experts [GGE] and the Open-Ended Working Group [OEWG]), expert commissions (for example, the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace), industry coalitions (for example, the Tech Accord, the Charter of Trust), and multistakeholder collectives (for example, the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace) all purport to identify or operationalize various normative standards of behavior for states and/or other stakeholders in cyberspace. As some of these processes wind down (for example, the Global Commission) and others wind up (for example, the OEWG), cyber norms are at a crossroads where each process’s potential (and problems) looms large.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Geopolitics, Norms
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jiayi Zhou, Lisa Marie Dellmuth, Kevin M. Adams, Tina-Simone Neset, Nina von Uexkull
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: Assessing the prospects for Zero Hunger—Sustainable Development Goal 2—requires an understanding of food security that goes beyond developmental or humanitarian issues, to include linkages with geopolitics. Geopolitical challenges cut across areas such as natural resources, trade, armed conflict and climate change where unilateralism and zero-sum approaches to security directly hamper efforts to eradicate hunger and undermine the frameworks that govern those efforts. The report provides an overview of how geopolitics interacts with these areas. Competition for agricultural resources can be both a cause and a consequence of geopolitical rivalry. International trade, while essential for food security, also creates vulnerabilities through supply disruptions—sometimes politically motivated. Armed conflict is a driver of food insecurity, which can itself feed into social unrest and violence. Climate change interacts with all three phenomena, reshaping both the physical landscape and political calculus. These overlapping linkages require further integrated policy engagement and analysis.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, International Trade and Finance, Governance, Food Security, Geopolitics, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Soud, Ian M. Ralby, Rohini Ralby
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Downstream oil theft has become a global problem. Since most of the world’s energy systems still rely on oil, fuel smugglers are nearly always able to find markets for their goods. Moreover, since oil is not inherently illegal, it is generally an easy product to move, buy, and sell. Profits from oil theft are frequently used to fund terrorism and other illegal activities. The new Atlantic Council Global Energy Report by Dr. David Soud, Downstream Oil Theft: Countermeasures and Good Practices, provides an in-depth look at how governments—from militaries to law enforcement officials—along with other stakeholders can anticipate and intercept instances of downstream oil theft. The report offers a range of methods to counter oil theft, which range from fuel marking and other technologies to transnational
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Energy Policy, Environment, Governance, Law Enforcement, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Eric M. Brewer, Ilan Goldenberg, Joseph Rodgers, Maxwell Simon, Kaleigh Thomas
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The United States and the international community have been relatively successful at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, but there are new reasons to question whether this track record will last into the future. Working with partners, the United States has steadily built a framework of disincentives and barriers to prevent proliferation. These include: 1) international treaties and agreements that have erected legal, political, and normative barriers to the bomb; 2) U.S. security commitments to allies that dampen their own perceived need for nuclear weapons; and, 3) a set of tough penalties (e.g., sanctions) for those who get caught trying to build the bomb. In other words, the barriers to entry to the nuclear club are high, and those countries that want the ultimate weapon need to be willing to accept significant risks. This helps explain why, although many countries have explored or pursued nuclear weapons, only nine states have them today. But several trends are eroding the foundation on which this formidable set of barriers rests. These trends are rooted in, and being shaped by, changes to the nature and structure of the international system: namely, the decline of U.S. influence and its gradual withdrawal from the international order that it helped create and lead for more than 70 years, and the concurrent rise of a more competitive security environment, particularly among great powers. These trends (detailed below) will have three broad implications for proliferation and U.S. policy. First, they stand to increase pressures on countries to seek nuclear weapons or related capabilities as a hedge. Second, they will almost certainly challenge the U.S. ability to effectively wield the traditional “carrots and sticks” of nonproliferation and counterproliferation policy and dilute the effectiveness of those tools. Finally, they could increasingly pit U.S. nonproliferation goals against other policy objectives, forcing harder tradeoffs.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Geopolitics, Nonproliferation, Post Cold War
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Mohammed Cherkaoui
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: What is needed now, more than ever, is a public debate of moral autonomy of citizens in redefining the rights and obligations of the state and reconstructing their moral authority. The debate needs to kick off on a blank slate.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Neoliberalism, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Thierry de Montbrial, Robin Niblett, Ed Feulner, Feng Zhu
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Ifri’s Executive Chairman Thierry de Montbrial spoke at the 20th World Knowledge Forum in Seoul on September 25, 2019 with Robin Niblett, Chatham House's director, Ed Feulner, The Heritage Foundation's Founder and Former President and Feng Zhu, Director of the Institute of International Studies at Nanjing University about the major governance issues of our time. The global geopolitical situation is caught in a maelstrom. The conflict between the United States and China is getting worse and subsequent negative effects are rising. In Europe, Brexit is making the continent more divisive than harmonious. The instability in Middle East is not solved. In addition, the North Korea’s nuclear weapons are an endless source of problem that defies a quick solution, which made the politics surrounding the Korean Peninsula more complex. The problem is that the currently weak global governance may lead the global political landscape into a serious crisis. To give an answer to these problems, heads of top think tanks share their prospect and the future of the global governance, giving a guideline for each country to listen for a better direction.
  • Topic: Governance, Geopolitics, Think Tanks, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Middle East, North Korea, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Julia Pomares, María Belén Abdala
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for the Implementation of Public Policies for Equity and Growth (CIPPEC)
  • Abstract: We are living in an era of unprecedented changes. Mature democracies, emerging polities and the least electorally competitive countries are now facing new challenges in a globalized world. They are all dealing with technological breakthroughs, changes in global economic power, ageing populations and urbanization of their territories. Today’s picture shows that social inclusion seems to be an unfulfilled promise, and social cohesion is weakening. Some citizens are disenchanted, and political systems are having trouble adapting and responding to new demands. According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer (2017), one in every two countries does not have faith in the system, and we still do not know how this picture is going to evolve. In democracies, pro-democracy attitudes coexist with openness to nondemocratic forms of governance, such as rule by experts (49 per cent), strong leaders (26 per cent) or the military (24 per cent). This picture might be part of a transition period or indicating that polities are not being able to cope with some of the new challenges. It is why we need to think about the future of politics and how these trends will shape global governance in the next 10 to 20 years. Are political systems ready to govern a digital economy? How should political leaders evolve to address radical changes in an automated world? What will the consequences be for global governance and for the role of G20? This paper analyzes current global trends in domestic politics and the prospective scenarios on the future of politics. To do so, the paper presents a brief description on three forces we know will forge the future: technological breakthroughs, demographic changes and shifts in global economic power. Later, it turns to the uncertainty of the future. We live in nation states, so we first attempt to devise how these forces will shape domestic politics. We then look at global governance and the way these trends will impact upon it. The final stop of this journey is an analysis of the implications of these scenarios for the role of the G20.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Governance, Democracy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Dominic Sachsenmaier
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Toynbee Prize Foundation
  • Abstract: Living through historically unprecedented times has strengthened the Toynbee Prize Foundation's commitment to thinking globally about history and to representing that perspective in the public sphere. In this multimedia series on the covid-19 pandemic, we will be bringing global history to bear in thinking through the raging coronavirus and the range of social, intellectual, economic, political, and scientific crises triggered and aggravated by it. Dominic Sachsenmaier, the President of the Toynbee Prize Foundation, is Chair Professor of Modern China with a Special Emphasis on Global Historical Perspectives in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Göttingen. His expertise centers on global and transnational Chinese history, with a focus on Chinese concepts of society and multiple modernities, among other topics. He is co-editor of the Columbia University Press book series “Columbia Studies in International and Global History“ and an elected member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.
  • Topic: Health, International Affairs, Geopolitics, Global Focus, Coronavirus, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Global Focus