A gradual shift is occurring in modern world politics away from pure geopolitics and hard and soft power of sovereign states towards tackling global environmental, resource, demographic, and social challenges.
Over the past decade, the very term ‘global challenges’ has crystallized into a new concept of Global Commons understood both in its narrow environmental meaning and a broader social sense. It is discussed both at the UN in the context of the Millennium Development Goals and on various international platforms. A series of panel sessions were held at the 14th Annual Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in October 2017 to discuss these issues (Conflict between Humans and Nature, Conflict between Rich and Poor, Conflict between Progress and Humanism).
Notably, the term ‘Global Commons’ was interpreted in more than one way from day one. In the narrow sense, Global Commons imply issues related to the environment, including air (and climate), drinking water, arable land, biodiversity, etc. In the broader sense, Global Commons also include social global commons of planetary human society such as access to healthcare, the basic (followed by advanced protein-based) food basket, quality urban and social environment, etc.
The most radical and expansive interpretation of the Global Commons includes planetary (that is, transboundary) unity of the human race. The dynamics of the development of the global human society in the 21st century places the approach towards considering these universal commons at the forefront. Since they are global and universal, they will inevitably challenge state sovereignty and may lead to a fundamentally new type of conflicts in the future.
Their rudiments can be seen already now in the disputes around hydrocarbon quotas, water wars, migration conflicts, etc. In the future, the problems in this area will only exacerbate.