The Special Geo-moment

The economic crisis that started in 2008 reorganized our world: new values, new meeting points and the unprecedented cooperation of new actors have emerged, and they have been shaping the Earth ever since. The models, maps and recipes that used to work do not function anymore. We need a new approach, and more and more unique solutions are becoming warranted. We live in a special geo-moment: in a century where knowledge and creativity reign supreme, and where new values are developing.

The 21st century breaks with traditional geographical maps, therefore we have to redraw them in these decades of unrivaled opportunities and unprecedented challenges. We hear news about the results of the accelerating technological progress almost every day. In early 2016, the existence of gravitational waves was confirmed for the first time, and a milestone breakthrough was achieved in the development of artificial intelligence when AlphaGo, devised by Google’s developers, first defeated man in Go, a game invented in China and considered one of the most complex in the world, containing 10170 possible combinations. The results are also encouraging in the field of creating fusion energy, and according to some, technological singularity is not far away either. Thanks to the global 24/7 economy based on new technologies, talent finds a way bridging distances. However, the (economic and other) mobility of not only the individual has increased with the advent of the Internet, modern public transport and new industries, but also that of nations, communities and countries.

Today, just as a Chinese economist, an American geographer and a Hungarian engineer can easily start a business together, countries thousands of kilometers apart can connect along common interests and economic and political cooperation. Meanwhile, climate change and our efforts to keep it under +2 °C, environmental degradation threatening the life conditions of humanity, the adaptation to the entailing consequences, rising economic and social inequalities, economic crises, international conflicts, migration – the list goes on and on – pose unparalleled challenges to humanity. When examining these phenomena in space, we can see that economic power is shifting from the former centers to the periphery, therefore the frontiers of the past may become the new centers. Thus the unipolar world becomes multipolar, while global strategies are replaced by regional cooperation.

We are part of a special “geo-moment” in both space and time: global space is fragmented, knowledge, creativity and highly skilled labor are becoming the greatest value, and former peripheral countries with knowledge-intensive economies may become the new points of reference. In their own field, everyone attempts to determine the winning nations, communities, leaders and powers of this era. Who will prevail, the large or the small? The strong or the swift? Central or peripheral countries? The task of the explorers and geo-strategists of the 21st century is to provide guidance in this constantly changing period full of tremendous opportunities and global environmental, social and economic challenges.

This calls for new maps that are not devoid of the wisdom and tools of the old but complement them with today’s knowledge. This is because the explorers of the 21st century do not need to rely on the North Star for orientation, but rather on innovation clusters, the world’s best universities, the latest technological achievements as well as their spatial connections and networks. And today these maps help us not only in orientation but also in being successful at the personal, national, regional or even global level. This requires, first and foremost, a new perspective, comprehensive knowledge, unique ideas and creativity. In order to create new knowledge, we have to familiarize ourselves with the world around us.

We live in an age of fusion and in a world of networks. We collaborate with economists, sociologists, geographers and engineers, since the more varied an approach we take to a challenge, the more easily we will find an answer and a genuine solution.

This book outlines the intersection of the analyses, thoughts and visions of leading strategic thinkers and their professional studies and memes, and serves as a meeting point for the results of strategic workshops, the guiding ideas of interesting books and the interpretations of the latest trends, because I am convinced that we need geography both as everyday people open to the world and as professionals engaged in mapping and understanding it. If we would like to define geography in one sentence, we can say that it is a tool for getting to know the world. This is a guidebook in this special geo-moment, for which I seek to provide readers with both a map and a compass.

Let us set sail – Navigare necesse est!

Norbert Csizmadia