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Towards a polycrisis? Socioeconomic, environmental and political crises in the Mediterranean

International Relations
Migration
Developing World Politics
S01


Abstract

The Global Risk Report 2023 of the World Economic Forum draws a map that shows how several global risks and crises are interconnected, showing the potential of a 'polycrisis' to arise as historian Adam Tooze has argued. In this mapping, it is hard to find an area that is not relevant for the Mediterranean, particularly but not only in the Southern countries of the Mediterranean shore: (geo-)political, social, economic and environmental, technology-related risks. Several crises have been unfolding for quite some time in West Asia and North Africa (WANA): the waves of Arab uprisings in 2011 and 2019 already showed the huge political and socioeconomic discontent across the region. Obviously, existing state-society and state-economy relations had proven unsustainable. However, in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian war in Ukraine, socioeconomic grievances have even worsened: inflation, rising prices for food and energy, shortages of basic goods, high rates of unemployment, and insufficient social protection. Also, political liberties and rights have further suffered from even more repressive authoritarian regimes that also support and learn from each other including digital forms of repression. Regional geopolitical relations have seen dramatic shifts since 2011 that directly affected regime trajectories and violent conflict. Relations between regional powers have also been affected by increasing competition and even conflict between global powers, further worsened since Russia’s war in Ukraine. All of these crises are interwoven with the effects of climate change that will severely impact the region that is already water-scarce and food insecure. Some crises are similar in the EU and its Southern member states in particular, others are also directly interrelated with the Southern shore of the Mediterranean. While the Southern EU member states share for instance the environmental dimension they are also particularly affected by migration from and through the Southern Mediterranean. Securitisation of refugees has led to renewed cooperation with authoritarian leaders in the field of migration control that includes economic incentives that help stabilise in itself unsustainable regimes. In the tense relations with China and particularly with Russia, the EU seems to feel the need to build alliances with any kind of regimes and secure fossil and green energy resources, creating new dependencies between EU and the Southern Mediterranean. To understand the single crises as well as their interconnectedness, the Research Network on Mediterranean Politics and Society is launching a seminar series that brings together vast expertise in the respective fields from among the members of the group and beyond. It seeks to share in-depth analyses of ongoing crises of various issue fields, to engage in discussions about the interconnectedness of crises and possible future scenarios as well as the responsibility of political elites on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea.
Code Title Details
MP1 Empowering voices: Digital technologies and counter-narratives on environmental and socioeconomic crises in North Africa View Panel Details
MP2 China-US-Europe rivalry in the Mediterranean View Panel Details