Following a disappointing 2021, the world eagerly hopes for a different 2022. A new Ipsos survey shows that despite the threat of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, there is a positive feeling in the world about the new year.
Nearly 77% of survey respondents in 33 countries expect a better and more prosperous 2022. There are worries about the environment, rising prices, and natural disasters, but most are optimistic about a robust global economy.
The general optimism of economic revival matches with the US investment bank, J.P. Morgan’s annual global economic outlook. It expects the pandemic to end in 2022, and the global economy and market will witness a strong cyclical recovery.
Besides hope of economic revival, the Ipsos survey also shows that not many people believe that the world will end in 2022.
Only a minority fears the possibility of nuclear weapons being used in any conflict or cyber warfare in resulting in a global IT shutdown. No doubt, with the arrival of 2022, there is more hope and less despair in the air worldwide.
Hope is a powerful force with a life of its own as it helps us pass through difficult times. As Franklin D. Roosevelt had once said: “We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” However, the prospect of a better 2022 is not only based on the just desire of humans to be hopeful but also supported by some recent real-life developments.
Despite a growing vocal anti-vax movement and the existing vaccine apartheid, the new vaccines and drugs have raised the expectation about the end of the pandemic and the economic revival in the new year. The global climate conference at Glasgow might have failed to meet the challenge posed by the climate crisis.
Still, the peoples’ climate movements worldwide are gradually forcing their leaders to act, and 1.5 degrees C remains a goal. Popular movements have also drawn more extensive support against right-wing populism in many countries. With that, there is a rising hope of revival of democracies.
Some hopeful signs
Moreover, the world has witnessed some hopeful signs of several conflicts moving to dialogue and negotiation. On 23 March 2020, the UN Secretary-General had issued an urgent appeal for a global ceasefire to facilitate a joint global response against the COVID-19.
Unfortunately, neither in 2020 nor in 2021, there was any noticeable trend from conflict to cooperation or war to peace. Instead, while the world was struggling to survive against the coronavirus, several new armed conflicts started emerging, and some dormant conflicts became active again. However, that drift seems to have started reversing just before the arrival of 2022.
In recent weeks, several intractable conflicts have made some encouraging progress, raising the hope of 2022 to become relatively peaceful than 2021.
The hope of peace and cooperation has come up from the Korean Peninsula to the Middle East and Eastern Europe to the Horn of Africa. The world needs relative peace to succeed in its hope of achieving post-pandemic economic recovery in 2022.
The armed combat in the Korean Peninsula had ended in 1953 with the armistice agreement. However, neither South Korea was a signatory nor the agreement was a peace treaty.
So, both North and South Korea continues to be technically at war. The failure of the Trump-Kim talk in 2020 had raised the fear of a new round of hostile actions by a nuclear-powered and ballistic missile-armed North Korea.
2022 needs to be a great year as the world can’t afford another 2021
Instead, as the South Korean President has hinted in December 2021, both South and North Korea, China, and the US have agreed in principle to declare a formal end to the Korean War. If that happens, that will help normalise ties between the two Koreas and encourage the North to return to nuclear talks.
During the second half of 2021, there was a fear of massive escalation of conflict in Ukraine. However, that fear has somewhat subsided, and the possibility of a negotiated outcome has taken shape with two back-to-back virtual meetings between the US and Russian President in December 2021. On 10 January 2022, officials of both countries are also scheduled to hold further talks on this dispute.
The encouraging signs of the world moving towards peace are not limited to interstate conflicts involving big powers only. A 13-month-old civil war, which had led to a major humanitarian crisis in Africa’s second most populated country, Ethiopia, has paused by the end of 2021.
The withdrawal of rebel troops to Tigray and the Ethiopian government’s decision not to advance into that war-torn region just before Christmas brings the possibility for both parties to address their differences through dialogue.
Despite 2021 being a year of deaths, violence, starvation, and miseries, the developments in its last few weeks have given hope for 2022 to become less conflictual and more cooperative. The leaders must grab these opportunities and work for peace and prosperity. 2022 needs to be a great year as the world can’t afford another 2021.