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SEI Currents 2022

Join our Currents 2022 event on 12 January 2022 and read the perspectives by our researchers on topics to follow next year.

Graphic: Mia Shu / SEI.

Date published
20 December 2021

The world is in a transition that has been exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, the effects of the pandemic and the growth of inequalities worldwide. What risks and opportunities are surfacing at this time of transition? What issues warrant greater attention? SEI researchers from across the world have identified various trends, all linked to the transition of communities, societies, technologies, the private sector, public policymaking and international relations.

They have drawn on their own research agendas and individual perspectives to offer fresh insights on issues that are established topics in the global conversation and cast a spotlight on some matters that have largely been overlooked so far. As the world faces this time of change, they ask, “What are the risks and opportunities on the horizon?”

Graphic: Mia Shu / SEI.

SEI perspectives

SEI Currents 2022 taps the institute’s expertise and insights from eight offices on four continents to examine trends emerging in 2022 and beyond. SEI Communications Director and Head of Strategic Policy Engagement Robert Watt  introduces the series, which brings together perspectives from around the globe.

The calls of recent years for climate action and climate ambition are poised to evolve and grow into demands for climate accountability. Going forward, climate accountability will likely be the watchwords at climate conferences and shareholder meetings, in courtrooms and the halls of governments, from national capitals to city halls and on the streets of the world.

The prices of agricultural and mining commodities are at the forefront of economic trends that shape the global economy and affect the world’s ability to achieve its climate and sustainable development goals. Policymakers must recognize and engage with such trends, which transcend the jurisdiction and influence of individual countries.

Throughout the Global South, environmental activists face a growing threat of violence, an alarming trend that suggests that their efforts to champion environmental causes and the rights of Indigenous Peoples are becoming too important to ignore.

Technology is a necessary lever to achieve net-zero goals by mid-century, but it is not a sufficient lever on its own. Policymakers and the private sector must now pick up the pace to help innovation move out of the labs and into the wider world.

The concept of loss and damage is gaining traction in discussions. This shift marks a turning point for how to think about climate finance, and for what constitutes climate justice.

In Latin American countries and other regions that have long relied on extracting fossil fuels, now is the time to turn a new page. Success depends on making a just transition, but in which direction? To create more resilient economies, governments must anticipate the opportunities of the coming energy and bio-based transitions and address concerns about the prospect of new extractive industries.

The potential for climate change to exacerbate violent conflict is manifest in Africa. Growing competition for scarce natural resources is likely to increase tensions on a continent that is experiencing some of the world’s most protracted violent conflicts. Future development, peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction efforts must integrate climate change into their plans.