The economic and political mood in many of the world's richest countries has become increasingly somber. Many analysts are warning of a double-dip recession in the United States. Unemployment is rising. The debt crisis in Europe is not getting better. Because the US and the eurozone still account for more than half of the global economy, there is a real risk that these problems will hold back recovery in the rest of the world.
According to the 2011 Forbes Billionaires List, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), contributed 108 of the 214 new billionaires and accounted for one in four of the total number, a jump from one in ten five years ago. The number of Chinese billionaires on the list nearly doubled.
In the teeth of Europe's worsening sovereign debt crisis, Premier Wen Jiabao's vow that China will increase its investment in Europe signals not only China's confidence in the eurozone economies but also its resolve to assume a bigger role in propelling global growth.
With the world's population expected to reach seven billion next month, sustainable development has become an ever more urgent issue, one that is intertwined with the challenges of water scarcity, energy shortages, global health issues, food security and so on.