Written by Volunteer Clara Morer Andrades
For better or worse, 2021 is about to finish. Probably by now, you have reached the point of pandemic fatigue, as it seems that the only thing happening this year is once again Covid-19 and its many variants. However, without resting importance to the virus, 2021 was more than a year of global pandemic. In January, after initial “disturbances”, Joe Biden became the 46th president of the US. Differently than his predecessor, among other measures, Biden committed to re-join the Paris Agreement and initiate, once again, conversations with Iran regarding a possible New Nuclear Deal. In August, we saw how the government of Afghanistan fell under the control of the Taliban after years of fighting against the extremist group. The humanitarian repercussions are already visible, but chances are that the problematic will escalate in the upcoming year. On a more positive note, COP26 was held in Glasgow in autumn. Though not fully satisfactory, there were some achievements such as: countries’ agreement to accelerate the Paris rulebook, guaranteeing financial investment and cooperation aiming to act towards the mitigation of climate change, halt reforestation, among other actions that you can read here. Thus, now, in our way to 2022, we wonder what will the year ahead bring?
Politics and Human Rights in Wales and the UK
- Anti-refugee Bill. Officially known as the Nationality and Borders Bill. The policy is intended to pass at the beginnings of January. UK’s civil society and international bodies such as the UN have already warned about the dangers that this law would have on human right standards in the UK. You can read more about its consequences here.
- Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2021. Previously delayed, it is now expected that by the spring of 2022 this Act will be finally enforced in Wales. This legislation will protect and promote the rights of tenants by granting access to a decent housing, making law that the period to give notice under “no fault” grounds will extend from 2 months to 6. Also, it will ease the path to acquire abandoned propriety, among other measures. Overall, the bill intends to provide greater safety guarantees to people and protect, promote and respect a basic human right such as the right of adequate housing.
Economy in Wales and the UK
- Inequality. The global pandemic evidenced the inequalities between countries. Different organisations warned that the gravity of the situation will escalate unless countries take action. Moreover, inequality will not only increase among countries but, in 2021, we already saw how households inequality increased in countries such as the UK.
- Taxing Plastic. Aiming to reduce the amount of plastic that we consume in everyday products, the UK and Welsh governments ideated a plan to tax all those products that are highly dependent on plastic for its packaging. Adding to the already existing ban on single-use plastic, the new legislation aims to accelerate the path towards a greener and safer Wales. Read more about its implications here.
- US midterm election. In November next year, the US will hold the midterm elections. In these, citizens will elect some of the members that will be seated in the Senate (Higher chamber with full legislative power – shared with the House of Representatives -). This means that depending on whose party is there represented, Biden policy scheme might result highly affected. Moreover, the midterm elections are usually held two years after the new election of the president, so, these will also serve as an “opinion poll” to assess the president’s actions since he took power. Given the existing polarisation on issues concerning racism, climate change, women’s rights, and Covid-19 response, the results to these elections are difficult to predict.
- Ukraine conflict escalation. US Secretary of the State, Antony J. Blinken, accused Russia of supporting the rebels in Ukraine and warned about taking severe measures if needed to stop Russia to intervening in Ukraine. Seen as a potential crisis, the level of uncertainty is high. We might wonder whether the contingencies and relations between NATO and Russia will deteriorate, or instead, a de-escalation of conflict will result in this upcoming year.
- Rising tension between Morocco and Algeria. Relations between Morocco and Algeria have not ever been especially good. However, this summer Algiers decided to halt all diplomatic relations with the kingdom over allegations for supporting terrorist groups and accusing its neighbours of risking Algerian unity. Despite Morocco having recently advocated for dialogue with Algeria and to leave behind “old discrepancies”, recent actions conducted by the Republic to provoke the kingdom, might influence Moroccan to turn down dialogue and renewing former rivalries. Read more here.
- Gabriel Boric as the new president of Chile. In an historic turn-out, the left-wing candidate, Gabriel Boric, won the general elections in Chile this past December. Since the protests that erupted in 2019, and following the Covid-19 pandemic, Chile’s economic, social, and political environments were severally unstable. Aiming to change the ongoing dynamics, Boric has promised to adopt policies based on human rights protection and assure social justice for all Chileans. Though, he recognises the difficulties ahead, the elected president aims to turn the page from neoliberalism and start working for a fairer standard in the society.
- Rise of metaverse. The Virtual/Online 3D world is gaining relevance in today’s post-pandemic world. This sort of technology has usually been associated to gamers, but, given the increase of lockdowns triggered by global pandemic, the implementation of Metaverse in work spaces have increased over the past months. These online universes allow people to hang out without leaving your home. Plus, given the latest advances, these are much more realistic than what we have seen till now.
- Space Race. A new space race is now taking place. This time though, not all “runners” come from the same background. This year, China will finish their own International Space Station. India will try to lend their robot in the moon. And millionaires like Bezos, Branson and Elon Musk will try to capitalise the space by making of it a tourist destination.
Overall, these are some of the issues that might affect our year ahead. However, if you would like to learn more about what is to come, do not hesitate and check the following links and discover!
Happy new year and stay safe!