Our cover of this edition depicts growing global malaise around governance, leadership, technology and trust.
Why are these issues so important in a crisis context? Put simply, because of the damaging consequences that poor, malicious, narcissistic or corrupt governance can have on our daily lives, communities, livelihoods, safety and quality of life.
Denise Thompson (p64) explores the importance of governance in regulating the actors and processes around disaster risk reduction. Weak governance is a disaster risk driver, linked to other drivers, such as poverty, inequality, poor planning and development.
And other actors are always ready to fill the vacuum left by poor or weak governance, including those with criminal or malevolent intent, who are all too willing to capitalise on the opportunities this presents.
Humanity has inexhaustible supplies of ingenuity and creativity; none so evident as in the field of technology. If applied correctly, the solutions have immense potential for good. Yet, as climate is a risk amplifier, if applied unwisely, technology can be a risk enabler.
Other articles in this edition also examine governance and technology. On p14 Maha Hosain Aziz describes a ‘global legitimacy crisis’ which, she says, is linked with a headlong rush for technological domination. Meanwhile on p18, Andrea Bonime-Blanc presents a view of the megatrends that every leader – of nations, business, institutions, local governments or humanitarian organisations – needs to be aware of. She discusses the collapse of global trust, the ethical leadership paradox and how unscrupulous actors could commandeer technology to further their own agendas.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is set to fundamentally change the way we live. On p58 Laurence Marzell calls for citizens to be placed at the centre of smart cities, emphasising that cities are for people. Vincent Mosco supports this on p66: “Genuinely intelligent cities start with a vibrant democracy, support for public space and a commitment to citizen control over technology,” he says.
Constant monitoring, sensors and data gathering all present both threats and opportunities.
It would be naïve to expect Utopia, but we do have the opportunity to harness burgeoning technological developments for the benefit of our resilience, livelihoods and security.
In this new, disruptive landscape (and I’m not necessarily using the term ‘disruptive’ in a positive sense, as disruption can often break or destroy good parts of systems, causing upheaval in the name of transformation and bringing about unintended consequences), as well as bringing about innovation, we are seeing emerging protagonists, non-traditional leadership and technology. And these might not be bound by the rules that the world has evolved and honed over the centuries, rules that have been in place for good reason, based on hard won human experience.
We need to be careful in what – and in who – we place our precious trust.