OXFORD – The last few decades of globalization and innovation have resulted in the most rapid progress that the world has ever known. Poverty has been reduced. Life expectancy has increased. Wealth has been created at a scale that our ancestors could not have imagined. But the news is not all good. In fact, the achievements brought about by globalization are now under threat.
The world has simultaneously benefited from globalization and failed to manage the inherent complications resulting from the increased integration of our societies, our economies, and the infrastructure of modern life. As a result, we have become dangerously exposed to systemic risks that transcend borders.
These threats spill across national boundaries and cross the traditional divides between industries and organizations. An integrated financial system propagates economic crises. International air travel spreads pandemics. Interconnected computers provide rich hunting grounds for cybercriminals. Middle Eastern jihadis use the Internet to recruit young Europeans. Living standards rise – and greenhouse-gas emissions follow, accelerating climate change.
As a byproduct of globalization, crises that once burned locally and then quickly flamed out now risk sparking international conflagrations. A pandemic, flood, or cyber attack in the City of London or Wall Street could send the entire world into a financial tailspin.