2023 was the hottest year on record since 1850, surpassing 2016 by a large margin, according to a climate report by Copernicus.The global average temperature was 14.98°C, which is close to the 1.5°C warming limit set by the Paris Agreement. The report also warned of the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, and wildfires, that pose serious threats to human lives and ecosystems .
Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 continued to dominate the world stage in 2023, as the conflict escalated into the largest land war in Europe since World War II.Despite international sanctions and diplomatic pressure, Russia refused to withdraw its troops and annexed Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine. The war also triggered a humanitarian crisis, as nearly 8 million Ukrainians fled their country and sought refuge in neighboring states and beyond.
The U.S. and its allies increased their military presence and support for Ukraine, raising the risk of a direct confrontation with Russia.Iran witnessed a historic wave of protests against its authoritarian regime, sparked by the assassination of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in January 2023. The demonstrations, which were the largest and most widespread since the 1979 revolution, demanded political and economic reforms, human rights, and an end to Iran's nuclear program and involvement in regional conflicts.
The government responded with brutal crackdowns, killing thousands of protesters and arresting tens of thousands more. The unrest also affected Iran's negotiations with the U.S. and other world powers over its nuclear deal, which remained stalled and uncertain.
The global economy entered a recession in 2023, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis, and other factors combined to create a perfect storm of challenges.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that the world economy would contract by 3.5% in 2023, the worst performance since the Great Depression of the 1930s.The recession hit developing and emerging countries hardest, as they faced rising poverty, inequality, debt, and instability. The IMF also warned of the dangers of rising protectionism, trade wars, and geopolitical tensions that could undermine the global recovery and cooperation.
Latin America experienced a political shift in 2023, as several countries elected new leaders or held referendums that changed their constitutions and systems of government . In Chile, a leftist
coalition led by Gabriel Boric won the presidential election and implemented a new constitution that replaced the one inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. In Brazil, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defeated the incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, who faced corruption charges and widespread criticism for his handling of the pandemic and the environment. In Colombia, a peace deal between the government and the FARC rebels was approved by a popular vote, ending a decades-long civil war that claimed over 200,000 lives.
Africa faced multiple challenges and shocks in 2023, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis, food insecurity, and political instability. These factors slowed down the region's economic growth and recovery, increased poverty and inequality, and worsened the humanitarian situation in many countries.Despite these difficulties, Africa also demonstrated its resilience and potential in 2023, as it was projected to grow at the second-fastest rate in the world in 2023-24.
The region also made progress in implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which aims to boost intra-African trade and integration. Moreover, Africa continued to invest in its digital infrastructure and innovation, creating new opportunities for entrepreneurship and development.
Africa also experienced a political shift in 2023, as several countries elected new leaders or held referendums that changed their constitutions and systems of government. Some of these changes were positive, such as the adoption of a new constitution in Chile and the peace deal in Colombia, while others were negative, such as the military coups in Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Chad, and Sudan .
On October 7, 2023, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip, using rockets, motorbikes, hang gliders, and tunnels to breach the border and target Israeli civilians and soldiers. The attack, which coincided with a Jewish holiday and a music festival, killed more than 1,000 Israelis and took around 250 hostages. Israel responded by launching a war on Gaza, which resulted in thousands of casualties and a humanitarian crisis. The conflict, which is still ongoing, has drawn international condemnation and intervention.