Video Credit:

As 2024 begins, the world faces challenges on multiple fronts. So much has happened over the last couple of years that it’s hard to believe four years have elapsed since the COVID pandemic upended our lives. What are the biggest challenges we will face in 2024? This is my top 5 list, in no particular order:

1. Climate change

From record-breaking heat in Europe, the US, Brazil and elsewhere to flashfloods, unseasonal rain, and other freak weather, 2023 saw it all and it won’t get any better. 2023 was expected to be the hottest year on record. At the COP28 UAE in Dubai, the outcomes were mixed. An agreement on phasing out fossil fuels and a loss and damage fund were positive steps, but the challenges require action. Climate change is no longer a problem of the future. It is our problem. Right now.

2. Geopolitical turmoil

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has gone on much longer than expected. When the war erupted in early 2022, Ukraine was expected to capitulate. That has not happened. As the war drags on, support for Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky wanes. While his forces have had some successes, it has been slow and gruelling, and more capitals are reluctant to send aid. The Israel-Hamas war has only added to the complicated geopolitical dynamics and taken attention away from Ukraine. Since the October 7 Hamas attacks, Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has been relentless. Innocent people, many of them children, continue to bear the brunt of this collective punishment.

read more

3. Economic pressures

COVID-19 wreaked havoc on economies worldwide, and just as we saw some signs of recovery, the Russia-Ukraine war triggered a new round of economic turmoil that looks set to dominate 2024 along with the Middle East conflict. Major economies like the US and UK have battled high levels of inflation; China has seen an unprecedented slowdown, which has had a ripple effect elsewhere, while high oil prices have made life worse for ordinary people. Leading banks have predicted slower growth for the global economy in 2024 due to high-interest rates, increased energy prices and a slowdown in the world’s top two economies, with the two wars contributing to a worsening global financial outlook. A Reuters poll forecast says growth could slow to 2.6 per cent, down from 2.9 per cent last year. However, a recession may be avoided, though “mild recessions” have not been ruled out in Europe and the UK. Emerging economies like India are a bright spot in this turbulent time.

4. Artificial Intelligence

Harnessing AI and finding ways to regulate it will be high on the agenda in 2024. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the UK hosted the first-ever summit on AI in late 2023 at Bletchley Park in which 28 countries, including the United States, China, India and the EU, participated. Big tech executives at the summit included ChatGPT’s Sam Altman and the world’s richest man and X owner, Elon Musk. Another summit will take place in 2024 as countries have agreed to look at the potential risks of AI and identify the shared concerns while building a scientific understanding.

5. Elections in major democracies

Finally, the world will see general elections in major democracies in 2024, which will have a bearing on where we are headed. This includes the United States, where Donald Trump could make a comeback; India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a third straight term; and the UK, where Labour is poised to make a huge comeback.