A continuing, international level emphasis is being placed on a range of mechanisms, designed to reduce the prevalence of marine plastic waste and micro-plastics in the world’s oceans. Correspondingly, there is a heightened focus on developing new packing materials and reducing the production of environmentally harmful plastics.
While much attention is paid to the economic aspects of China–US tensions, the Trump Administration is increasingly adopting a whole-of-government approach towards countering China. One outcome of that approach is the use of the relationship with Taiwan to thwart China’s ambitions.
President Xi’s European trip may have resulted in multi-billion-dollar agreements with France and Italy, but it has also deepened the growing schisms in the European Union.
In 2019, FDI’s research will continue to focus on three areas: determining whether there will be a global food and water crisis between now and 2050; geostrategic developments, including opportunities and challenges for Australia, in the Indian Ocean region over the next 20 years; and identifying key developments in northern Australia over the next two decades, with an initial focus on landscape regeneration.
The sea will continue to be one of the most important conduits of global economic prosperity. Due to the inherent dangers of the maritime environment – maritime terrorism, trigger-happy hijackers and sea pirates, negligent mariners and, now, cyber-criminals – the shipping industry must be more vigilant than ever if the global economy is to be sustained into the future.
Japan’s political and military normalisation under the stewardship of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is well and truly underway. Japan is taking an increasingly proactive approach to the Indian Ocean Region, as is evident from its various regional endeavours. It is partnering with countries from around the Indian Ocean rim to build capacity and develop infrastructure, while growing local economies and raising living standards. Tokyo would appear to be taking an approach in which the offer of aid does not necessarily imply the eventual dependence of the recipient on the donor.
Globally, governments are including military forces in contingency planning in preparation for the possible consequences of a changing climate. In Australia, the most recent Defence White Paper defines Australia’s climate change position as largely influenced by regional stability. Accordingly, Australian Defence Force preparedness for climate-related crisis events will depend on timely, high quality information, resourcing and leadership.
Across the Indo-Pacific Region, the year ahead has all the hallmarks of continuing geopolitical uncertainly and the likelihood of increasing concern over a number of non-traditional challenges that include changes in demographic trends, the impact of climate change, the ability to meet food and water demands, rising inequality and the impact on employment of increased automation.
Each year, thousands of Australian native birds, reptile and mammals are illegally caught and trafficked to domestic and overseas markets. The trade is growing and combating agencies can struggle to attract the necessary resources when competing with other, better publicised, environmental issues.
Lithium production, with enhanced protection of the natural environment, will be critical to the future of transportation globally as it becomes dominated by electrically powered vehicles.