A darkening threat horizon with a green silver lining in 2021

Paris Peace Forum
6 min readAug 24, 2021

By Robert Muggah, Co-founder and Research and Innovation Director, and Ilona Szabó, Co-founder and President at the Igarapé Institute.

With tensions rising between global powers, digital attacks increasing in frequency and intensity, deepening climate threats and dangerously uneven Covid-19 recovery, 2021 is shaping-up to be the year that risk management took center stage. How governments, companies and citizens anticipate and respond to interconnected systemic risks today will determine whether they thrive or survive in the coming years.

At least three major trends will shape the risk environment in the short- to medium-term. The first is the Covid-19 pandemic progression and vaccination rollout. While North America and a handful of European and Asian countries see light at the end of the tunnel, new variants and a ferocious third wave threaten to overwhelm other parts of the world. The second is sharpening digital threats, some of which risk escalating into military confrontation. And the third, more optimistically, is the accelerating shift toward a greener economy.

Uneven Covid-19 recovery

After 20 exhausting months, the Covid-19 pandemic — led by the deadly delta strain — is entering a dangerous third wave in many countries. Despite the remarkable invention, manufacture and roll-out of vaccines — 2.3 billion since December 2020 — there are still dozens of countries that have yet to receive a single dose. To date, over 85 percent of all vaccines have gone to upper and middle-income countries. Until recently, vaccine nationalism threatened to make a bad situation worse. This may be about to change. The recent announcement by the US to donate 500 million doses to COVAX between 2021 and 2022 is welcome, and could stimulate more generosity from other countries.

Global vaccinations concentrated in advanced economies Source: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations (June 2021)

With G7 nations — including China and Russia — stepping-up vaccine diplomacy, new vaccines coming online and vaccination waivers being explored, there are hopes that the effects of a punishing third wave can be dampened. At the current rate of distribution, however, the world will be waiting until 2024 for all countries to have sufficient capacities and supplies to vaccinate their populations. This is dangerous, especially in light of…

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