ramoshorta2_ERNESTO BENAVIDESAFP via Getty Images_foodpoverty Ernesto Benavides/AFP via Getty Images

Managing the Megacrisis of 2022

On top of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasingly disruptive effects of climate change, countries around the world are experiencing dangerous levels of food and energy insecurity and debt distress. And while the international community has taken some initial steps to address these problems, much more can and should be done.

EDINBURGH – At recent gatherings of G7 leaders, NATO members, and G20 foreign ministers, it was clear to everyone that the world is facing a confluence of emergencies unlike anything we have seen in decades. International tensions have risen to alarming heights on the back of increasing food and energy insecurity, depreciating currencies, looming debt crises, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the intensifying effects of climate change, and armed conflicts.

Previously a forum for tackling financial and economic problems, the G20, chaired by Indonesia this year, is being pushed into perilously sensitive terrain. The group’s Leaders Summit in mid-November will be critically important; but we cannot wait until then to address today’s intertwined crises. The G20 should launch a virtual (online) process to start working toward a common, coordinated response in advance of its November summit.

According to the World Food Program (WFP), more than 800 million people are now chronically hungry, with up to 323 million facing the prospect of starvation. Energy prices have soared, and COVID-19 continues to rage through the world’s under-vaccinated populations (only 16.5% of people in low-income countries have been fully vaccinated). Moreover, some 60% of low-income countries are in debt distress, and communities around the world are experiencing droughts, floods, wildfires, and other symptoms of climate breakdown.