Newsletter subscribe:

Global trends 2030: alternative worlds

  • Interact
The National Intelligence Council's (NIC) Global Trends Report engages expertise from outside government on factors of such as globalization, demography and the environment, producing a forward-looking document to aid policymakers in their long term planning on key issues of worldwide importance.Since the first report was released in 1997, the audience for each Global Trends report has expanded, generating more interest and reaching a broader audience that the one that preceded it. A new Global Trends report is published every four years following the U.S. presidential election.
Global Trends 2030 is intended to stimulate thinking about the rapid and vast geopolitical changes characterizing the world today and possible global trajectories over the next 15 years. As with the NIC’s previous Global Trends reports, NIC does not seek to predict the future—which would be an impossible feat—but instead provides a framework for thinking about possible futures and their implications.In-depth research, detailed modeling and a variety of analytical tools drawn from public, private and academic sources were employed in the production of Global Trends 2030. NIC leadership engaged with experts in nearly 20 countries—from think tanks, banks, government offices and business groups—to solicit reviews of the report.

The world is transforming at an unprecedented rate: it took Britain 155 years to double GDP per capita, with about 9 million people in 1870 . . . The US and Germany took between 30 and 60 years with a few tens of million people . . . but India and China are doing this at a scale and pace not seen before: 100 times the people than Britain and in one tenth the time. By 2030 Asia will be well on its way to returning to being the world’s powerhouse, just as it was before 1500.
But it is not totally back to the future: the world has been transformed in other ways. By 2030, majorities in most countries will be middle-class, not poor, which has been the condition of most people throughout human history.
Global population in urban areas is expanding quickly:
And the pace of technological change will accelerate: Absorption of new technologies by Americans has become much more rapid. The absorption rate in developing states is also quickening, allowing these states to leapfrog stages of development that advanced economies had to pass through.

This report is intended to stimulate thinking about this rapid, vast array of geopolitical, economic, and technological changes transforming our world today and their potential trajectories over the next 15-20 years. The NIC begins by identifying what it sees as the most important megatrends of our transforming world— individual empowerment, the diffusion of power to multifaceted networks and from West to East and South, demographic patterns highlighted by aging populations and exploding middle classes, and natural resource challenges. These megatrends are knowable. By themselves they point to a transformed world, but the world could transform itself in radically different ways. We are heading into uncharted waters. The NIC contends that the megatrends are interacting with six variables or game-changers that will determine what kind of transformed world we will inhabit in 2030. These game-changers—questions about the global economy, national and global governance, the nature of conflict, regional spillover, advancing technologies, and the United States’ role in the international arena—are the raw elements that could sow the seeds of global disruption or incredible advances. Based on what the NIC knows about the megatrends, and by positing the possible interactions between the megatrends and the game-changers, the NIC envisions four potential worlds. At one end of the spectrum is a Stalled Engines world in which the risks of interstate conflict increase and the US retrenches. At the other extreme is a newly rebalanced and Fused world in which social, economic, technological, and political progress is widespread. In the middle are two other
possibilities: a Gini-Out-of-the-Bottle world in which inequalities dominate or a Nonstate World in which nonstate actors flourish both for good and ill. None of these outcomes is inevitable. The future world order will be shaped by human agency as much as unfolding trends and unanticipated events. In describing potential futures, the NIC identifies inflection points as well as opportunities and risks to help readers think about strategies for influencing the world’s trajectory.
Technology and Transport, Society (Growth and Development), Security (Security, Crime, Defence), Resources (Food, Energy, Water, Biodiversity), Geopolitics (World Power Transition)
Country of publication: 
United States
Publication date: 
Saturday, December 1, 2012