If you haven’t heard of the term “Global South” before, this would be a good moment to give it some attention. 88% of the world’s population live in the countries highlighted in red on the map below, in the main comprising the people and political leaders of Asia, Africa and Latin America. This group has increasingly become known as ‘The Global South’.

 

Previously known as ‘third world’ or ‘underdeveloped’, these countries are increasingly making their voice heard on the global stage. Recent examples include the African Union winning a permanent seat in the G20 in September 2023 and Mia Mottley, the Barbados prime minister, courageously advancing the debate on climate finance at COP27 in 2022. In 2023, the BRICS leaders (from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) announced that Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates would join their group in 2024. In addition to trading amongst themselves, they are starting to mobilise themselves as a bloc and challenging the US led view of the global world order.

 

In 2000, only 150 million of the people living in the Global South enjoyed middle-class living standards. Today, that number has exploded to around 1.5 billion, double the total population of western countries, and it is predicted to grow to 3 billion by 2030. Taking their lead from the rise of China and India as economic superpowers, there are signs that many people living in Global South countries, especially in Asia, are remarkably optimistic about the future. Who can blame them?