Ten global challenges of the 21 century

Today humankind faces new global challenges.

I focus on ten key challenges for our country and region. To continue our path to success we must take into account each of the challenges to ensure our ongoing development.

First challenge is the accelerating course of history

The course of history has rapidly accelerated. The world is changing at a fascinating pace.
Over the last 60 years the population of the Earth tripled and will reach nine billion people by 2050. During the same period the world’s GDP has increased 11 fold.

The accelerating global course of history always opens up new opportunities for any country, and I’m proud that we have taken full advantage of them.

Over the last 20 years we have modernized all areas of our society at a very high rate. We’ve done things that many other countries achieved in 100 or 150 years.

However, we still have social groups that have not joined the overall modernization process.

There are objective reasons for this: society still contains an imbalance that affects people’s moral and social expectations.

We have to eliminate this disparity and provide all social groups with an opportunity to join the modernization process, find their adequate place in the society and take full advantage of the opportunities of the New political course.

Second challenge is the global demographic imbalance

The global demographic imbalance increases every day. Globally we are an ageing population.

In 40 years the number of people above the age of 60 will exceed the number of children under 15. Low birth rates and aging in many countries inevitably cause problems on the labor market, including workforce shortage.

Growing demographic imbalance generates new waves of migration and increases social tensions. In Kazakhstan, we face migration pressure in certain regions of the country where illegal immigrants destabilize local labor markets.

We also should realize that we are very likely to deal with a reverse process – outflow of our labor force. We are a young nation. The average age of our country is 35 years. This provides us with a great opportunity to capitalize on our human potential and rightfully position ourselves in the world.

So today we possess a substantial base to rely upon and grow further.

Anyone searching for a job in our country can get employed. Moreover, everyone in Kazakhstan is able to generate a new job and take care of him or herself. That is our great achievement.

I am leading you to a universal labor society where the unemployed will not just receive benefits, but will master new occupations, where disabled will be able to actively engage in creative activities and companies will ensure decent working conditions.

Our youth should study, acquire new knowledge, master new skills and efficiently and skillfully deploy new technologies and expertise in their daily life.

Third challenge is the global food security threat

High rates of global population growth are contributing to the global shortage of food.

Today millions of people starve; nearly a million people face constant food shortages. Without revolutionary changes in food production, these figures will only keep growing.

This shortage in food presents a great opportunity for Kazakhstan. We have great opportunities in terms of that challenge.

We are already among the top grain exporters in the world. We possess vast “green” territories that are capable of producing eco-friendly foodstuffs.

To make this great leap forward in farm production we will need a new type of thinking in our state.

Fourth challenge is the water shortage

Global water resources are also under great pressure.

In the last 60 years global demand for drinking water supplies has increased eight fold. By the middle of this century many countries will have to import water.

Water remains a limited resource, so the fight for acquiring water is already becoming a critical geopolitical factor causing tensions and conflict in the world.

Kazakhstan also faces an acute water supply issue. We lack high-quality drinking water. A number of regions face drinking water scarcity.

There is a geopolitical aspect to this issue. We are already facing a serious issue of trans-boundary river use. Given the complexity of this problem, we should avoid politicizing it.

Fifth challenge is the global energy security

All developed countries are increasingly investing in alternative and green energy technology. Estimates indicate that by 2050 their usage will help generate up to 50% of the entire energy consumed.

The era of hydrocarbon economy is coming to its end. We face the beginning of a new era where human activities will be based not so much on oil and gas, but on renewable energy sources.

Kazakhstan is one of the key elements of global energy security.

Having world-class oil and gas reserves, our country will not depart from its policy of reliable strategic partnerships and mutually beneficial international cooperation in the energy sector.

Sixth challenge is the exhaustion of natural resources

Combined with unprecedented population and consumption growth and the finite level of natural resources this will fuel both positive and negative outcomes.

Kazakhstan has a number of advantages in this regard. We have been blessed with abundant natural resources and other countries will need to rely on us for their resource needs.

It is critical that we reconsider our attitude to our natural wealth. We need to learn how to properly manage it, saving our export revenues and, most importantly, transforming our natural resources into sustainable economic growth that delivers maximum efficiency.

Seventh challenge is the Third industrial revolution

Mankind is at the threshold of the Third industrial revolution that will change the very notion of production. Technological discoveries are radically changing the structure and needs of international markets. We now live in a completely different technological reality.

Digital and nanotechnology, robotics, regenerative medicine and many other kinds of scientific progress will become an ordinary part of life and transform not only the environment, but also human beings.

Kazakhstan should actively seek to engage in these processes.

Eighth challenge is the growing social instability

One of the greatest problems in the world today is the increasing social instability. Its root cause is social inequality.

Today over 200 million people in the world fail to find jobs. Even the European Union faces unemployment – with the highest rates in decades –provoking massive civil unrests.

When we look at global employment conditions, we need to admit that the situation in Kazakhstan is in a pretty good shape. We have the lowest unemployment rate we have ever had in our history. Undoubtedly, it’s a great achievement. Yet we cannot rest on our laurels.

The global economic crisis is transforming into a socio-political one, which will inevitably affect

Kazakhstan and test our durability. Therefore one of the key issues on our agenda is social security and social stability. It is important that we strengthen our social stability.

Ninth challenge is the crisis of our civilization’s values

The world is undergoing an acute crisis of outlook and values. We increasingly hear voices heralding the clash of civilizations, the end of history and the failure of multiculturalism.

It is critically important that we stay away from this kind of discourse, preserving our time-tested values. We know exactly how we turned what was called our Achilles heel – multi-ethnicity and multi-religious reality – into an advantage.

We must learn to live in co-existence of cultures and religions. We must be committed to dialogue between cultures and civilizations. Only in dialogue with other nations our country will be able to succeed and gain influence in the future. In the 21st century Kazakhstan must strengthen its position of a regional leader and become the bridge for dialogue and interaction between East and West.

Tenth challenge is the threat of a new global destabilization

We are all witnessing what is happening today in the world. This is not a new wave of global destabilization, but the continuation of 2007-2009 financial crisis, from which the world economy has not yet recovered.

The Global economic system may fail again as soon as 2013-2014, due to a fall in global commodities prices. Such scenario is highly undesirable for Kazakhstan.

A recession in the EU and/or USA might lead to reduced demand for commodities in developed countries. Potential default by even one member of the Euro zone might provoke a “domino effect” and bring the safety of Kazakhstan’s international reserves and stability of our export deliveries into question.

The reduction of currency reserves exacerbates the pressure on the currency rate and inflation, which again might have a negative impact on social and economic situation.

Therefore we must develop a sound and coordinated policy for all power branches, for the state and society, to be fully prepared for any economic downturn in the international arena.