When future generations look back on this second decade of the 21st century it could well be marked as the ‘plateau of global compassion’ – that is, if generosity is measured through trends in international development and humanitarian assistance.
To be brutally honest, the current pace of global geopolitical, economic and technological change appears to have left many international institutions in its wake. If multilateral bodies are to remain a significant element of global mechanisms for coping with such changes, they are not making a very convincing argument for it so far.
So much is shifting, and so quickly, the forces underlying current instability, tension and conflicts are often too complex and diverse to fully comprehend. That uncertainty is partly fuelling pervasive feelings of insecurity and fear, as well as driving unpredictable political swings and election outcomes. Unfortunately, when such uncertainty interacts with the growing awareness of pervasive and accelerating inequality, there is a risk that it leads to a steep fall in social cohesion and trust: A polarization in society, away from everyone being ‘in the same boat’ to people ‘fighting for themselves’.