As we head into 2012, Wasafiri is asking where tipping points might lie for tackling poverty and related crises.

The future is uncertain. Of that much we’re sure. We live on a small planet with 7 billion people competing for rapidly diminishing resources, clamouring for greater political participation and a higher standard of living. New technology is stirring revolution and geopolitical power is shifting dramatically – all amidst a changing climate and an unprecedented economic crisis.

Such an outlook suggests that crises from conflict to climate change will be unpredictable in where and how they strike, but that we can expect the world’s poor to bear the greatest burden.

Yet amidst this volatility, we believe that new opportunities for tackling such problems will emerge in 2012. And it is often out of the most chaotic and dynamic moments that energy for thinking and acting in new ways begins to emerge. Wasafiri operates at the heart of such moments, working with the people and organisations tackling poverty and related crises. From our privileged vantage point therefore, we take the plunge to consider where opportunities for change may emerge in the year ahead:

Myanmar – capitalising on recent developments to strengthen democratic reform and respect for human rights
Horn of Africa – defining a long-term approach to improving resilience and development in the aftermath of 2011’s worst humanitarian crisis
South Sudan – tackling tribal and political conflict and strengthening government reform in the world’s newest country to lay the foundation for long-term state building
Somalia – tackling the blight of piracy, fundamentalism and poor governance in the world’s most dysfunctional state
Climate change – prototyping new approaches to reducing vulnerability and mitigating the impact of climate change at a country level
African agriculture – accelerating development by growing private sector investment in support of national plans and priorities
Libya – establishing leadership and government capacity for rebuilding the nation
Rwanda – supporting Rwanda’s hunger for development and regional status by strengthening the institutions of government
Afghanistan – supporting the transition from foreign military occupation to Afghan owned social and economic development
Humanitarian leadership – tackling pervasive weaknesses in leadership and coordination, on the back of a resurgence of high-level support for improving the humanitarian system

We also think it worthwhile keeping a keen eye on;

Arab Spring in Africa? – the upheavals of the Middle East and North Africa may well spawn similar discontent further south, where dictators in countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Angola cling to power as protest movements become more determined
Yemen – a disastrous convergence of poverty, extremism, ethnicity and corrupt government is forcing a growing political will for change
Non-traditional actors – developing nations and the West will grapple with how best to work with the likes of China, India and Brazil to strengthen aid and trade while avoiding the pitfalls
Humanitarian crises – predictably, from hurricanes in the Pacific to famine in the Sahel (especially Niger), new humanitarian crises will curse the developing world, but at ever-increasing cost
Ownership of development – opportunities will lie in building the capacity of national governments to reclaim their own development agenda, shifting power away from the donors
Impact investment – the private sector will increasingly be challenged – and encouraged – to structure and catalyse investments to drive development
Youth engagement – harnessing the energy of young people will also loom larger on the agenda of poor countries plagued by unemployment and increasing numbers of dissatisfied youth

Above all, and turbulent as the world may prove to be in 2012, we predict all manner of new paths to generating concerted action to tackle poverty and related crises.

Bon courage to all fellow travellers!