Lately, I have been lying awake all too often worrying about my children’s future. Political upheavals in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Gaza and the South China Sea, will likely redefine not just political boundaries, but also the global security framework, and have potentially serious impacts on the global economy now and in the future.
In our global economy, incidents in far away places can have significant impacts on our daily lives. If Russia and Ukraine go to war after a particularly violent clash between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists, this will undoubtedly trigger more U.S. and EU economic sanctions against Russia and harsh counter measures against American and European businesses operating in Russia. The negative consequences to global energy and financial markets could be significant, and put at risk the global economic recovery.
Cyber crime is a potential global threat that is as close to us as our laptop computers and mobile devices. The theft of our identities, personal wealth and intellectual property has become an all too common occurrence. Reports of customer data breaches at major companies, trade secrets stolen by foreign governments and criminals and identity theft are becoming the norm, rather than the exception.
Managing these challenges will require both pragmatic and visionary leadership and collaboration from government, business and community groups. In the face of global disruptions, the goal should be more sustainability and less vulnerability to crises.
I am heartened by the growing consensus for action to address the challenges of the “new normal”. There has been a dearth of rational voices calling for long-term strategies to address 21st Century challenges, especially in the U.S. government. The short-term planning mindset of quarterly earnings and election year cycles are not up to the task of preparing for the impacts of a future that looks to be even more disruptive and uncertain than it is today.