TOP-10 Risks for Eurasia in 2020











Maxat Kurbenov


The world enters a new challenging geopolitical stage, when the world is not only multi-polar, but also multi-conceptual.


The global system is undergoing fundamental changes. In geopolitics, a storm of uncertainties is brewing. Globalization is no longer considered a universal good, as developed countries weaken their commitment to globalization, and the world enters a new era of protectionism. The trends described convey a whole range of new challenges: military tensions, economic crises and trade wars, destabilization of international relations and changes in the political landscape of both individual countries and entire regions.


In this complex geopolitical matrix, global challenges and risks are rapidly increasing and sporadically transitioning into an active phase. Herewith, external projection of state power becomes an effective governmental strategy, the understanding of “powerful national state” differs in many countries and as a result lead to complications in international and internal politics.


Changing relations between major world and regional players affect small states, which are perceived as pans on a grand chessboard and whose interests could be easily neglected. Shifts in emerging blocks and alliances force small states to re-calibrate relations with large centers of power, and this does not always happen painlessly.

In general, we are witnessing a profound transformation of the global liberal order, which used to be based on common rules and institutions and has dominated over recent decades. While one fraction of countries is moving towards protectionist policies and economic nationalism, the other is committed to continuing with globalization and open trade, in which China plays an increasingly important role. New globalization “Belt and Road” initiative, which is promoted by Beijing is potentially able to change the whole trade and economic area of Greater Eurasia, significantly changing the rules of the game and the balance of powers.


International institutions and arbitration mechanisms do not possess the required weight and tools to resolve trade and political disputes. Returning to gunboat diplomacy in trade relations is predictable result of the development of such a system.


Meanwhile, global economic growth is still not inclusive. The accumulation of capital in developed countries is accompanied by increased inequality, and the growth of world trade comes with the consolidation of developing countries as raw material suppliers and capital importers in the international division of labor. Increasing income stratification leads to even greater polarization of society and to deep social instability.


The fourth industrial revolution, with digitalization as its major trend, is further increasing the technological race between superpowers for global dominance in the field of artificial intelligence.


Against this background, the world cannot agree on a single model of confronting the main challenge of the future- climate change. Narrowly understood economic nationalism makes it impossible to create an adequate response to the global challenge, which requires a universal approach and concreted collective action.


This is how major geopolitical challenges of 2019 will be remembered. It is under the veil of secrecy of how these challenges will transform in 2020 in a world full of uncertainties, where national interests stands before issues of multilateralism.


Traditionally, “black swans” arrives at the beginning of the year. This term was introduced by Nassim Taleb, used to indicate significant consequences of forthcoming course of events, which are extremely difficult to predict. How “tough” will 2020 be? It depends on the accuracy of outlining global challenges of 2020 and finding adequate solutions.


This report about global geopolitical risks for macro region of Eurasia aims to foresee the “black swans” of 2020, in order to manage potential risks and opportunities in a timely manner.


 The Institute of World Economics and Politics under the Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Elbasy with the assistance of ISPG, International Strategy Partners Group, prepared “top 10 Global Risks for Eurasia in 2020”, based on a survey of 1000 professional respondents from 60 countries and detailed opinions of 30 prominent international experts.