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Developments and Forecasts on Changing Security Paradigm

Globalisation, migration, geopolitical shifts, changing nature and balance of power, and increasing access of individuals to technological and social resources, have raised the world’s vulnerabilities to new levels and are changing the security paradigm.

The UN, NATO, and other security structures are based on the nation-state as the primary decision-making entity, which makes it increasingly difficult to address the new security challenges.

There is increased attention to prevention and pre-detection, to avoid conflicts and thwart eventual attacks.

  • Although trans-border wars are increasingly rare, global peacefulness deteriorated for eight of the last twelve years, with 2019 being the first improvement since 2014, according to the 2019 Global Peace Index. Of the 23 indicators assessed by the GPI (covering 99.7% of the world's population), 17 have an average peaceful score lower in 2019 than in 2008. Terrorism and internal conflict impacted the most the global deterioration in peacefulness.
  • Of the 177 countries assessed by the Fragile States Index, some 125 are in the "warning" or "alert" category, including some EU-neighbouring countries. 
  • Battle deaths from conflict are at a 25 year high. The number of refugees and displaced people are at a 60 years high.
  • The total economic impact of violence on the world economy in 2018 amounted to $14.1 trillion (PPP) -- equivalent to 11.2% of the world’s GDP-- just a bit lower than $14.6 trillion (PPP) in 2017 (which was the higest).
  • ​​Violent conflictition — indicating the concurrence between local conflict and competition for global attention, and conflicciliation, as a combination of conflict and conciliation efforts — are the result of embedding local conflicts into global agendas and therefore into competition for attention and legitimacy.
  • | Related Megatrends:  InequalitiesDemographyMigration; Climate and environmental degradation
  • Withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, USA and Russia announced beginning to develop new nuclear-capable missiles banned by the treaty. This is also in reaction to their strategic disadvantage vis-à-vis other nuclear powers, especially China. 
    | Related Megatrend: Geopower
  • Conflict prevention and solution efforts will increasingly include NGOs and civil society, while a new social contract could increase prevention.

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  • Global military expenditure increased 75% over the past 20 years, but stands at around $1.7 trillion annually since 2009. In 2018, it was $1.774 trillion. The 2% growth compared to 2017 was mainly run by China, Turkey and Soudi Arabia. 
  • The top five military spenders in 2018 were the USA, China, Saudi Arabia, India, and France, which together accounted for 60% of global military spending.
  • Over the past decade, China increased its military spending by 83%, while the USA's spending decreased by 17%. Their shares of world total in 2018 were 14% and 36% respectively, compared to 5.8% and 45.3% a decade ago.  
  • By 2030, the countries with top defence spending are expected to be: USA with over 1 trillion, China with $736 billion, and India with $213 billion (from respectively 633.6 billion, $240 billion and 66.6 billion in 2018.)
  • In 2018, Asia and Oceania region rose its military expenditure for the 30th successive year, led by China at 5% and India at 3% increase compared to 2017, and Pakistan with an impressive 10.6% growth compared to 2017.
  • By 2020, Asia-Pacific military spending will be on par with North America, which will only account for 33% of global defense (from almost 50% now).
  • World's military arsenals are expected to double in size by 2030, compared to 2016.
  • By 2045, India's defence expenditure might reach $654 billion, about the same as all European Union countries combined. 
  • NATO 29-members' spending was $900 billion (out of which, $610 billion was USA), accounting for 52% of world's spending in 2017.
  • NATO guidelines suggest that countries spend 2% of their GDP on defense, with at least 20% of it for defense-related R&D and major equipment acquisitions. Only the USA (NATO's biggest defense spender), Greece, and Estonia met the 2% guideline in 2016. If all NATO European countries were to meet the 2% of GDP target, their defence spending would have needed to rise by over 40%.
  • The volume of international transfers of major weapons has grown continuously since 2004, in 2012–16 reaching their highest volume for any five-year period since the end of the cold war. Only Asia and Oceania and the Middle East increased imports.
  • The five biggest weapons exporters together accounted for 74% of the total volume of arms exports -- the United States (33%), Russia (23%), China (6.2%), France (6%), and Germany (5.6%).
  • Of global imports in 2012–16, Middle East accounted for 29%. Saudi Arabia was the world's second largest arms importer (after India) with an increase of 212%; Qatar's imports grew 245% and the majority of the other states in the region also increased arms imports in 2012-16 compared to 2007-11. Some Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, are buying their weapons from different suppliers to diversify their dependence on other countries, especially the United States.

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  • The countries forecasted to have the world's most powerful armies in 2030 are: India, France, Russia, USA, and China (Global Firepower ranking for 2020 military strength shows: USA, Russia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, France, UK). 
  • China is increasingly challenging western military technological superiority and aspires to become a global naval power. In some capability areas--particularly in the air domain--China appears to be reaching near-parity with the West. Its air-to-air weapon systems will be close to parity with similar Western weapons, while one of China’s air-to-air missiles has no Western equivalent.
  • China aims to have fully-modernised armed forces by 2035, and a fully-fledged top-tier military by 2050. 
  • Chinese aims to become world leader in science and innovation by 2050. "Made in China 2025" announced in 2015, outlines China's strategy to become a world leader in a number of high-tech industries, such as robotics, aerospace equipment, medical devices, and more. 
  • China plans to be world leader in AI by 2030. | Related Megatrends: TechnologyGovernance 
  • As China is increasingly a major global arms trader, more actors will be able to procure advanced systems (e.g. Iran). This becomes an emerging threat for deployed Western forces that may confront more advanced military systems, in more places, and operated by a broader range of adversaries.
  • China's and Russia's power and influence to security are seen equal and considered almost at par with that of the USA. | Related Megatrends: Geopower
  • Space as a battle field is maturing and increasing, as China is increasing its space capabilities. | Related Megatrends: TechnologyGeopower
  • China achieved quantum key distribution between China and Austria, opening the possibility to intercontinental quantum-secured communications, but also challenging intelligence gathering. 
    | Related Megatrends: Technology

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  • There are several types of hybrid tactics used both, by state and non-state actors. The power and diversity of hybrid warfare will continue to increase, challenging security and governance systems.
  • Some of the most used and evident types of hybrid warfare are:
    • impacting governance by gaining economic influence and control over critical infrastructure--facilitated by globalization 
      e.g. China controlling 10% of all European port capacity;  
    • inflicting fear and mistrust, mannipulation of information and challenging the credibility of media and the democratic system --faciliatetd by concentration and expanding scope and spectrum of government or groups-of-interest-owned news media-- as well as massive cyberattacks on critical infrastructure (like the WannaCry and NotPetya attacks), manipulation or interference in elections, etc.
    • national aggression--massive cyberattack, swarm of unmanned warfare, infiltration to major reserach centers and companies (e.g. Chinese spies infiltrating critical industries).
  • Monopolisation of communication infrastructure (e.g. Chinese-dominated 5G infrastructure) increases the vulnerability of the communication systems, raising concerns about access to private, public, commercial, and military communications.
  • In 2017, three billion people logged on to social media networks like Facebook, WhatsApp and China’s Sina Weibo, making it one of the most powerful tools for shaping peoples' thinking.  | Related Megatrends: Technology; Geopower
  • Smartphones are increasingly seen as weapons of mass manipulation. | Related Megatrends:Geopower
  • There will be 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs unfilled around the world in 2021, due to the lack of skilled people in the field. India alone, will need up to 1 million cybersecurity professionals by 2020.

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  • Cybersecurity has evolved into an unconventional warfare on a multidimensional, multilayered, and asymmetric battlespace. For instance, as cyber-weapons and unmanned sensors and vehicles are becoming key military elements, critical equipment, including satellites are becoming particularly alluring targets.
  • The most targetted sectors by cyber attacks in a country are energy, public security and foreign affairs, as well as finance and transport. Attacks on these sectors could severely affect energy supply, compromise police work and cause loss or theft of classified information.
  • Space-based systems can be critically vulnerable to cyberattacks. Satellite and space-based infrastructures are key elements of our communication and observation capabilities. Skilled adversaries could inflict damages ranging from data loss or corruption to permanent loss of the satellite's capabilities, consequently impacting all services that depended on it. As space-based elements are also cyber-physical systems, cyberattackers could also cause direct impact on the physical world, for example by using them as kinetic weapons to target other space infrastructures.
  • While digitalizing and interlinking the once isolated energy system with other critical infrastructure systems can aid increase efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions and associated costs, it also augments the risk of cyberattacks, in terms of both their likelihood and potential impact.
  • The exponential growth in the number of interconnected devices is expected to continue in the years to come. Some estimations predict that in the next 10 years the number of IoT devices world-wide will reach over 100 billion. As a result of this, the cybersecurity risk will also grow due to the considerable enlargement of the global attack surface and our increased dependence on these technologies.
    | Related Megatrends: Accelerating technological change and hyperconnectivityGeopower
  • Cybersecurity is not only a concern in interconnected systems. It is also a crucial aspect in any service or product that includes a digital dimension. Any input that is subject to be processed by a digital component is a potential entry point for cyberattacks. Examples of this can be found in the adversarial machine learning attacks against autonomous vehicles, through the manipulation of road signs, or cyberattacks targeting gene sequencing systems via the malicious manipulation of physical strands of DNA.
    | Related Megatrends: TechnologyGeopowerHealth
  • There will be 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs unfilled around the world in 2021, due to the lack of skilled people in the field. India alone, will need up to 1 million cybersecurity professionals by 2020.
     | Related Megatrends: TechnologyGeopowerWorkEducation
  • The advent of 5G technologies will enable new data-driven services through the interconnectivity of billions of IoT devices. In this context, coordinated efforts among EU countries are crucial to cope with new cybersecurity challenges based on current and future EU legislation on 5G cybersecurity. | Related Megatrends: Technology

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  • The combination of thought and feelings with the capability of new technologies and data availability became the most powerful weapon, available to almost anyone interested, increasing the potential of SIMAD (Single Individual Massively Destructive).
  • Globally, ISIS (ISIL) and climate change are seen as leading threats to national security, although with significant variations among countries.
  • The scope and spectrum of terrorism and of civil unrest are expanding and intensifying. And so are also internal disputes with and among paramilitary groups, and violent extremism.
  • Anticipation and thwarting of terrorist acts will become increasingly difficult but also more urgent, since would-be terrorists have easier access to new tools that will enable them to develop massively destructive weapons (such as using CRISPR and synthetic biology to create new infectious viruses; and the creation of digital viruses in cyberspace to cause disruption of vital services). Many of these weapons will be very difficult to pre-detect.
  • The lone actor phenomenon adds a new dimension to the global security landscape, not only from a safety point of view, but most of all, ethical and legal perspectives. Lone wolves and small group attacks are one of the symptoms of our social and international systems’ failures to keep pace with a better informed, highly connected, technology-savvy, more demanding, and interrelated world. As a "glocalised" phenomenon, it needs a global framework with local action.
  •  The Global Terrorism Database contains over 190,000 terrorist incidents for the period 1970 to 2018.
  • According to the 2019 Global Terrorism Index, 71 countries recorded at least one death from terrorism in 2018, the second highest number of countries since 2002.
  • The global economic impact of terrorism was US$52 billion in 2017, 42% decrease compared to the year before. 
  • In the EU, nine Member States reported a total of 129 foiled, failed and completed terrorist attacks in 2018, a strong decrease compared to 205 in 2017. The number of jihadist terrorist attacks decreased from 33 in 2017 to 24 in 2018.
  • A significant impact of terrorism is the change in the perception of Europeans for their security. Fear is the breeding ground for populism and mistrust.
  • Since the number of returnee foreign fighters is expected to increase in the coming years, fears of increasing terrorism increase. By some estimates, over 40,000 foreign fighters have joined ISIL in Syria and Iraq since the beginning of 2013.
  • Emerging modus operandi might be the use of drones or other autonomous vehicles, lethal autonomous weapons and 3D printing of weapons. Further modus operandi might be CRBN, attacking water or food supply, derailing trains as well as cyber-terrorism. | Related Megatrends: Technology
  • The financing of terrorism is also changing. Apart from traditional sources like illegal activities (illicit drug trade, trafficking) and state sponsorship  in the case of hybrid warfare, terrorists now also use charities or  front companies, non-profit organisations (NGOs)  carrying out completely legitimate work and even crowd-sourcing online in order to finance their activities. The dark web offers an unlimited source for terrorism entrepreneurship.
  • The opinions are very devided about the likelihood of terrorist attacks with high level of casualities. When asked about a terrorist attack killing 100,000 or more people before 2050, half of an international panel of experts rated the likelihood very high, while the other half deemed it impossible.  

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  • The combination of thought and feelings with the capability of new technologies and data availability became the most powerful weapon, available to almost anyone interested, increasing the potential of SIMAD (Single Individual Massively Destructive).
  • Transnational organised crime organisations are estimated to have a budget of 3 trillion -- twice larger than all military budgets combined.
  • The dark web is an enabler for the circulation of illegal weapons already on the black market. Almost 60% of the firearms listings are associated with products that originate from the US, although Europe represents the largest market for arms trade on the dark web, generating revenues that are around five times higher than the US.

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Environmental security is increasingly dominating national and international agendas, shifting defense and geopolitical paradigms.

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