Trying to find reasons to believe that 2015 would be any less violent or any more hopeful than the 12 months that preceded it was hard enough before the events last week in Paris and northern Nigeria. Our news headlines will undoubtedly be dominated by similarly grim stories in the year ahead. But amid the horror there will be moments to celebrate. Here then, are seven reasons to be vaguely optimistic about the world in 2015:
Iran nuclear deal
When these talks began, its very existence was cause for celebration. An issue that had been viewed as the biggest geopolitical threat of the day (oh, such innocent times) was at least being discussed relatively sensibly around a table. It’s a measure of its success that there is now a very real chance that a deal will be struck. Why so confident? All the key players – the US, Europe, Russia and the Iranians themselves – want it to happen.
Ignored by much of the Western media, the peace talks currently taking place in Havana between the Colombia government and Farc guerillas should be completed at some stage this year. Big issues still remain, particularly issue of justice – always thorny when some of the worst perpetrators are involved in the talks. But if they pull it off the longest-running conflict in the western hemisphere will be over.
A climate deal in Paris
One of 2014’s few bright spots was the agreement on carbon cuts between the US and China. Many hope this will be a mere prelude to a broader international deal in Paris later this year. After the colossal failure in Copenhagen in the wake of the global financial crisis, even the most optimistic are cautious. Perhaps they should be – but the signs are that this is the year world leaders will take the issue seriously.
Syriza or Podemos gain power and the world doesn’t end
Mainstream political leaders like to paint the hard-left parties as dangerous extremists who will crash their nation’s economies. Unlike, of course, those responsible parties who have done such a bang-up job over the past few years. Whether you agree with their economic policies or not a little political variety in southern Europe would be a good thing.
Joko Widodo proves a southeast Asian nation can be democratic
Cycling to work, flying economy when he goes on holiday – Indonesia’s new president is no out-of-touch autocrat. After 32 years of military rule, Indonesia’s road to democracy has been rocky. From reducing poverty to improving education, Jokowi’s to-do list is long, but perhaps as important is the way he goes about ticking them off. If Indonesia can become a true democracy, why not Malaysia, Vietnam or Thailand?
An African leader is forced to step down
After ruling Burkina Faso for 27 years, Blaise Compaoré thought a little light constitution-fiddling in order to prolong his reign would be fairly straight-forward. He was wrong. Far too many African leaders have nodded in the direction of democracy only to do whatever it takes to stay in power. Burkina Faso’s successful protest movement shows that populations won’t necessarily stand for it. Whether its Djibouti or Uganda, Angola or Congo, don’t be surprised if people power brings down another old-style “big man”.
Several nations will legalise gay marriage
A decade ago support for gay marriage was political suicide in western democracies – now no self-respecting politician would dare to oppose it. So many nations will pass legislation this year that it will stop being news.
Maybe none of these will happen, but there is more than enough pessimism to go around. A little bit of hope is no bad thing.
Steve Bloomfield is Monocle’s executive editor.