Are there other forces lurking that could indeed lead to relocalization? Might a world where our food, energy, and products are created locally drive deglobalization? An open question with massive implications. Relocalization is a geopolitical building block – one of many that contribute to future thinking exercises.Frank Diana – Deglobalization
That quote from my post on deglobalization highlights a possible future. That future is not the same as a possible post deglobalization future. The context surrounding deglobalization is centered on resilience and risk. To drive resilience and reduce risk, nations will diversify their supply chains and pursue reshoring strategies where appropriate. Relocalization on the other hand has massive implications to the nation-state structure and long-standing institutions. Imagine a world where our energy, food, and goods are sourced locally. What happens when a state is self-sufficient? What need does the state have of nations? What happens to logistics and transport if our needs are satisfied locally?
This recent article provides an example. Dubai is now home to the largest vertical farm in the world, a warehouse-like building near the Dubai airport that is growing more than 2 million pounds of local leafy greens per year. It is a 330,000-square-foot facility stacked with shelves growing lettuce, spinach, arugula, and mixed greens. While the farm uses conventional energy, they plan to use solar energy in the future. Once that transition happens and additional farms are built, vertical farming represents a significant sustainable achievement (the facility uses 95% less water and no pesticides or herbicides). The implications go beyond sustainability. The article states that the United Arab Emirates imports about 90% of its food due to limited arable land and water. What happens to those imports when vertical farms have localized some food production? What happens when other foods are created in their labs? What happens when renewable energy combines with desalination techniques to source their water needs locally.
Given our food-related challenges in the future, these advances may address issues of food and water scarcity. But realizing this vision drives disruptive impact across multiple domains. This one small example on a large-scale drives self-sufficiency locally. The ripple effects can be broad and deep, and it’s intersection with geopolitics is very clear.