Global Issues 2022
The global issues we face in 2022 are a mix of old and new. They reflect and accelerate epochal changes to the global order.
Millions of people are still being forced to flee conflict, climate change and economic turmoil. They are struggling with rising food costs, unsustainable debt and a world of dangerous infectious diseases.
The past eight years are on track to be the warmest on record, driven by rising greenhouse gas concentrations and accumulated heat. The impacts are already widespread, with extreme weather putting people at risk and costing economies billions. And the risks rise with each additional increment of warming, pushing ecosystems closer to critical “tipping points” that could result in irreversible changes.
Climate change affects all nations, but those with less wealth are often hardest hit. They are more likely to experience the disruptions caused by heat waves, hurricanes and wildfires; and their food production is often most affected by drought and floods.
They also contribute the least to global emissions, but they are more likely than wealthier nations to pay the highest price for climate pollution. And they are more likely to be displaced from their homes by climate-related disasters. This makes climate justice a crucial issue to keep in mind for 2022 and beyond.
About a quarter of the world’s population lives in poverty, living on less than $1.90 per day. Poverty is one of the defining global issues of our time, and remains a primary focus of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
There is no one single cause of poverty, but rather many interconnected causes like lack of income, inequality and conflict. These are the issues that we must tackle to ensure a better future for all.
Most approaches to poverty look at money alone, but there are significant perspectives that say it’s not enough. Those perspectives take a multidimensional approach, looking at a person’s access to water and healthcare as well as their ability to earn a livelihood. The COVID-19 pandemic and high food prices have pushed millions back into extreme poverty, reversing some of the gains made in recent years. This is a critical area for businesses to prioritize in order to help people break out of the poverty trap.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed gaps in global preparedness and action. It also highlighted the fragility of some healthcare systems and the need for more resilient, people-centric healthcare.
The pandemic also sparked a global debate about the role of vaccines in promoting public health. It is critical to continue to build on the momentum created by the global vaccine movement and to make sure that vaccinations are safe, effective, and accessible.
The COVID-19 pandemic reaffirmed the importance of strong, inclusive governance. This includes fighting corruption, which undermines global efforts to address challenges like poverty, climate change, and inequality. Rapid digitalization is creating new risks, too, including deepfakes, which can be used to spread harmful and false information at lightning speed. In addition, it is important to continue to support grassroots women’s organizations in their efforts to combat gender-based violence. The WithHer Fund is a good example of an organization doing this well.
Amid the global challenges of 2022, human rights remained at the heart of the agenda. Protracted conflicts caused appalling tragedies, while authorities continued to jail or kill political opponents, human rights defenders and journalists. In a series of country reports, dignitaries described how democracy is linked to the respect and protection of universal freedoms.
It is only by considering fundamental needs such as health, food and shelter as human rights that we can empower people to stand up against abuse by power holders. For example, in Argentina and Finland, legal reforms made lack of consent a key factor in defining rape; in Colombia, abortion was decriminalized after years of campaigning by women’s organisations. Similarly, fighting poverty and ensuring children have access to education are not only key human rights goals, they also support the delivery of the 2030 Agenda. The right to health — and to a decent life — is indivisible.