Throughout its history, NATO has had the relative luxury of engaging in wars of choice. But close to its 72nd birthday, the alliance is faced with wars of necessity and it struggles to determine its degree of involvement. A closely networked global society has increased inter-state dependencies and created new dimensions of national security and territorial defence. From emerging problems in Africa to the melting of ice in the Arctic, and from the rise of China to environmental issues, our speakers will discuss it all! The central question to be answered is if NATO, originally founded for Europe’s territorial defense, should broaden its scope and play a role in new frontiers as well? We have selected three frontiers for our event: Africa, the Arctic and China.
Africa’schallenges and opportunities are not limited to the borders of the continent. Its population is predicted to double in size to 2.4 billion by 2050, while resources remain constrained or even deplete. The effects of a changing climate will be experienced foremost on the continent although the capacity to mitigate the effects is limited. As a threat multiplier, this can create a breeding ground for the recruitment of terrorist groups, can result in irregular migration and increased local, regional and international instability. Meanwhile, regional powers are investing in land and infrastructure projects in Africa and thereby creating dependencies and expanding their sphere of influence. This global dimension affects NATO member states as well.
China’s rise to power has become undeniably noticeable. By engaging in partnerships with Japan, South-Korea and Australia, NATO has tried to balance the rise of China, particularly in terms of military might. China will soon have the world’s largest economy, it already has the second largest defense budget and technological developments, like AI-powered surveillance technology, unfold at an unprecedented rate. As a result, the dependence of the West on China as the factory of the world has increased to the point that many states now view it as a risk to national security. The monopoly-like position of China for 5G technology, rare earth materials and supply of medical equipment during the COVID-19 crisis, exemplify this dependency and demonstrate the risks. Here, the idea of an integrated and well-funded military-health security approach arises.
For decades, the thick layers of ice in the Arctic region were mainly subject to academic research. Due to the melting of ice caps, however, the Arctic has emerged as a new geopolitical arena. Whereas Russia is expanding its military bases along the coast and oil companies invest in unfound fields of their black gold, the West struggles to expand its influence beyond the mere funding of research facilities. As the ice continues to melt, however, the political and economic stakes grow higher and the question of who owns what becomes increasingly relevant. If the West wishes to balance the growing influence of both China and Russia, a concerted effort is needed.
It is clear that the aforementioned challenges require a strong and concerted effort from a united NATO, but will that ever be possible? Learn from experts in the field, join the discussion and help shape the future of NATO!