Economic and geopolitical shifts

Though lacking in the directness of earthquakes or missile strikes, macro trends and shifts in the global economy have a profound impact on the humanitarian arena. These trends can contribute to the development of a conflict or crisis situation, as exemplified by the way mounting global/national/communal inequality or market failures can lead to shortages of food. Global economic trends also shape humanitarian financing, for example with slower economic growth in Western countries leading to cuts in foreign aid. Global economic trends also contribute to Climate change.

Humanitarian crisis and response is by definition political, riven by political dynamics from the familial/communal to the global scale. As to geopolitical shifts at the global level, examples abound: the role of soft power in foreign aid, the strategic importance of crisis-stricken nations, the humanitarian aspirations of emerging (non-Western) world powers and the delicate balance of relationships among the world's superpowers (e.g., the UN Security Council's Permanent Five) all have an impact on the funding and operations of humanitarian efforts, the manning of UN peacekeeping missions, the willingness of states and agencies to address crisis situations, the general dynamics of warfare and the particular tactics within a conflict.

Two stock market traders reflected in their screens, sitting in front of list of stock prices

Photo: Rafael Matsunaga

Key actors

One of the leading think tanks analyzing global political and economic trends and their impact on development and humanitarian work

Platform for leaders from different stakeholder groups from around the world. Publishes the annual Global Risks Report, with a section on geopolitical power shifts.

Five leading European think tanks (ODI, DIE, ECDPM, IAI, and IDDRI) collaborating on analysis of the EU's role in development and humanitarian action

Key references

Annual report on the major global risks coming from economic and political changes

Report on power structures in humanitarian action and barriers to change

Annual report on fragile and conflict-affected countries and economies and achieving the 2030 Agenda

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