GEOFOR - GEOPOLITICAL FORUM

Geopolitical risks in the global risk society

ZAGREB, 24.9.2021

About the Forum

The international political scene and power relations are currently in a phase of rearrangement. The changes are spurred not only by the COVID-19 pandemic — a part of a global risk society — but also by the process of pragmatization of foreign policies, and moving away from established systems of values and trust in allies. As the overall power and influence of traditional superpowers weakens, regional first and second-tier powers gain more prominence. The World is facing new types of risks. Leading countries and international organizations must therefore adapt and redefine their policies and world views, should they remain relevant in this complex and politically hybrid world. This forum is theoretically built on the concept of the global risk society and discusses the idea of geopolitical risks in a 21st century global society. The forum is set in the context of rethinking the global risk society and the new social paradigm – how countries can ensure the sustainable development of societies, agriculture, technology, energy and health at this stage of development.

Idea

  • The Geopolitical Forum was established in Zagreb in 2020 with the aim of analyzing and conceptualizing the results of the Mediterranean Agricultural Forum, the ICT Society Forum and the International Energy Forum in the context of geopolitics, thus further articulating the presented public policies in the context of a new social paradigm in a global risk society.
  • The geopolitical forum is based on the results of the IEGS so far.

Concept

  • The Geopolitical Forum starts from the assumption that the reconstruction of the old geopolitical picture of the world is underway and, accordingly, there is an attempt to establish a new one.
  • Within the new geopolitical picture of the world from the beginning of the 21st century, there will be a new / different positioning of the EU in relation to the USA, China and Russia. In this context, the Geopolitical Forum is a place of discussion and analysis of the new concept of multi-polarity in the world.
  • Within the new geopolitical picture of the world, the focus is on population, food, energy and ICT technology in the context of security.

Goals

  • To promote the meaning of geopolitics in the context of a new social paradigm, both within the academic sector and the general public, with special emphasis on the public sector.
  • The Forum provides clear and articulated concepts and solutions to problems related to public policies in IT, energy and Mediterranean agriculture, both locally and regionally and internationally.
  • The Geopolitical Forum starts from the premise of identifying key issues and provides a framework for politically independent discussions on public policies, strategic and security trends in 21st century geopolitics determined by various risks.
  • Synthesizing and analyzing the policy proposals of other forums from the position of geopolitics.

PANELS

1.The challenges of unbalanced multipolarity and geopolitical risks

The World has steadily entered a period of global political, economic, social and technological change. The complexity and simultaneous non-linearity of these processes require an interdisciplinary approach and a detailed consideration of causes and possible outcomes.
The weakening of American influence deepened the crisis of global leadership and global governance. This created the conditions for a more independent foreign policy of many countries, and allowed various types of regimes to more aggressively pursue their national, security and economic goals. No superpower is able to solve a major or medium-sized foreign policy issue on its own without participation of other countries, especially the countries of the region in which the issue is located. In such context, regional actors and second-tier forces have strengthened their political and military position. This leads to creation of proto-multipolarity that is both chaotic and unbalanced in nature. The COVID-19 pandemic will leave a deep mark on world politics and the relations of World actors. COVID-19 has completely outgrown its health factor and has become a huge political and security factor. The virus, as a type of new risk, has accelerated existing trends (and created new ones) in international relations such as isolation, mistrust, protection of domestic economies and markets, strengthening the nation states, development of social security and controlling technologies, deepening of the rifts between the US, China, and Russia. It is therefore necessary to assess and problematize the nature of future geopolitical risks. In this panel we will discuss global challenges in transition and post-transition period. What theoretical and practical model would be optimal for recovery? Can unpredictable, unbalanced and pragmatic multi-polarity be more beneficial than bipolar or mono-polar order? What is the future of international organizations? Should the WTO, UN and WHO be reformed? In a global risk society, the new role of NATO in the global society of the 21st century needs to be seriously considered.

2. From geo-politics to geo-internet: digital boundaries, technological identities, securitization of national virtual territories, and gepolitial risks

The technological rivalry between the US and China is heating up. American struggle against Chinese technological development could ultimately lead to a World that’s divided into areas of different high-tech standards and technology domains. The sovereignty and securitization of the Internet in China, Russia, the United States, and other countries like India is also creating fertile ground for further digital divergence. Also, high-tech and digital rivalry can have an negative impact on the international academic exchange and scientific cooperation.
We are seeing a kind of transformation of geopolitics from physical to virtual plane. For the first time in history, political confrontation between countries is not caused by the struggle for resources, territories or ideological frameworks but by the struggle for dominance in virtual space, cyber security, and communication security. What is the future of digital geopolitics and who are its main actors – companies, states or societies? What is the risk of digital rivalry spilling into the physical world, and what are the consequences? Is the blurring of distinction between military and civilian technology inevitable –will we live under the shadow of “dual use” fear and will our digital media choices be regulated? Can classical diplomacy and the foreign policy establishment cope with such challenges or does the World need a new multilateral architecture for digital security, in the context of the global risk society?

3. The Future of European Securityin the Global risk Society

Like no other country, i.e. integration, the European Union has in the past ten years had the opportunity to experience almost every type and sub-type of security threat and challenge. It has thus become a part of a global risk society. Traditional risks include tensions in Kosovo, the war in Ukraine and Karabakh. Multiple terrorist attacks are also among the traditional threats. On the other hand, there is a growing number of new, or non-traditional threats that mainly include cyber threats and hacker attacks. As a new type of security challenge, Europe has also faced the interdisciplinary problem of various types of mass migrations. In the field of energy security, we are witnessing growing tensions between various members over the nature of energy sources (fossil-renewable) and natural gas sources (USA-Russia). The EU is also affected by specific forms of political challenges that may be observed in the broader security context, such as the strengthening of populist governments, disagreements in the Union and the departure of one of the key military and intelligence member — Great Britain. There is also a very specific problem of identity and religion on the West-East axis, and economic inequality on the North-South axis. Separatism, although incomparably less bloody than in the past, has all but disappeared. The aging problems of the European population, too, can be seen as a social and economic security challenge, and a type of real and inevitable risk. The COVID-19 pandemic also manifested an acute health-related challenge. This panel will, among other things discuss whether Europe can find a balanced energy model that will satisfy all actors. Can Europe divide security and the economy – maintain its security ties with the US and political West, but be economically free in choosing its trade partners? What needs to be done to make EU’s experience work? How to take all risks and threats into account in the chancing social paradigm? Does this lead to centralization, or on the contrary — greater independence of member states? Is there a crisis of governance in the EU and is the EU capable of being a major political factor in the World of tomorrow that is plagued by hybrid and ever-evolving risks? Is global risk management even possible?

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