Global Trends 2030; Alternative Worlds

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Global Trends 2030: AlternAtive Worlds a publication of the National Intelligence Council O F F I C E O F T H E D I R E C T O R O F N A T I O N A L I N T E L L I G E N C E Global Trends 2030: AlternAtive Worlds a publication of the National Intelligence Council december 2012 NIC 2012-001 Isbn 978-1-929667-21-5 To view electronic version: Twitter: @odni_nic Dear Reader: Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds is the fifth installment in the National Intelligence Council’s series aimed at providing a framework for thinking about the future. As with previous editions, we hope that this report will stimulate strategic thinking by identifying critical trends and potential discontinuities. We distinguish between megatrends, those factors that will likely occur under any scenario, and game-changers, critical variables whose trajectories are far less certain. Finally, as our appreciation of the diversity and complexity of various factors has grown, we have increased our attention to scenarios or alternative worlds we might face. We are at a critical juncture in human history, which could lead to widely contrasting futures. It is our contention that the future is not set in stone, but is malleable, the result of an interplay among megatrends, game-changers and, above all, human agency. Our effort is to encourage decisionmakers—whether in government or outside—to think and plan for the long term so that negative futures do not occur and positive ones have a better chance of unfolding. I would like to point out several innovations in Global Trends 2030. This volume starts with a look back at the four previous Global Trends reports. We were buoyed by the overall positive review in the study we commissioned, but cognizant too of the scope for needed changes, which we have tried to incorporate in this volume. Our aim has been to make this effort as collaborative as possible, believing that a diversity of perspectives enriches the work. We have reached out to experts far beyond Washington, D.C. We have held numerous meetings, many in universities, in Indiana, Texas, California, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Colorado, Tennessee, New York, and New Jersey. We also sponsored a public blog which featured blog posts and comments by experts on key themes discussed in Global Trends 2030. The blog had over 140 posts and over 200 comments. As of mid-October, it had 71,000 hits and had been viewed by readers in 167 different countries. To ensure that the blog posts can continue to be consulted, we are linking them to the web and e-book versions of the final published report. We expanded our engagement overseas by holding meetings on the initial draft in close to 20 countries. Many times this was at the invitation of governments, businesses, universities, or think tanks. One beneficial outcome of the NIC’s quadrennial efforts has been the growing interest elsewhere in global trends, including elaboration by others on their own works, which we encourage. Because of the widespread interest in how Global Trends 2030 is seen elsewhere, we have detailed the reactions of our international experts to the initial draft in a special box following the introduction. O F F I C E O F T H E D I R E C T O R O F N A T I O N A L I N T E L L I G E N C E In this volume, we expanded our coverage of disruptive technologies, devoting a separate section to it in the work. To accomplish that, we engaged with research scientists at DoE laboratories at Sandia, Oak Ridge, and NASA in addition to entrepreneurs and consultants in Silicon Valley and Santa Fe. We have also devoted strong attention to economic factors and the nexus of technology and economic growth. Finally, this volume contains a chapter on the potential trajectories for the US role in the international system. Previous editions were criticized—particularly by overseas readers—for not discussing at greater length the US impact on future international relations. We believe that the United States also stands at a critical juncture; we have devoted a chapter to delineating possible future directions and their impact on the broader evolution of the international system. Scores of people contributed to the preparation of Global Trends 2030, and we have sought to acknowledge the key contributors from outside the NIC in a separate entry. Within the NIC, Counselor Mathew Burrows was our principal author in addition to orchestrating the entire process from beginning to end. He was assisted by Elizabeth Arens as senior editor; Luke Baldwin, who established the first-ever NIC blog; Erin Cromer, who oversaw logistical support; and Jacob Eastham and Anne Carlyle Lindsay, who created the design. Dr. Burrows worked closely with regional and functional National Intelligence Officers, who reviewed and contributed to the draft. Among NIC offices, the NIC’s Strategic Futures Group under Director Cas Yost rates special mention for its participation across the board in Global Trends-related work. I would especially like to acknowledge the work of the late senior analyst Christopher Decker who provided critical help with the forecasts on global health and pandemics before his untimely death. I encourage readers to review the complete set of Global Trends 2030 documents, which can be found on the National Intelligence Council’s website,, and to explore possible scenario simulations using the interactive material. We also have published the work in an e-book format so readers can download it for their use on a tablet. These formats are available for downloading from our website. As with our previous Global Trends studies, we hope this report stimulates dialogue on the challenges that will confront the global community during the next 15-20 years—and positive and peaceful ways to meet them. Sincerely, Christopher Kojm, Chairman, National Intelligence Council Track record of Global Trends Works Before launching work on the current volume, the NIC commissioned an academic study of the four previous Global Trends studies, beginning with the first edition in 1996-97. The reviewers examined the Global Trends papers to highlight any persistent blind spots and biases as well as distinctive strengths. A subsequent conference focused on addressing shortcomings and building on the studies’ strong points for the forthcoming work. We sought to address the reviewers’ concerns in designing the present project. The key “looming” challenges that our reviewers cited for GT 2030 were to develop: • a greater focus on the role of Us in the international system. Past works assumed US centrality, leaving readers “vulnerable” to wonder about “critical dynamics” around the US role. One of the key looming issues for GT 2030 was “how other powers would respond to a decline or a decisive re-assertion of US power.” The authors of the study thought that both outcomes were possible and needed to be addressed. • a clearer understanding of the central units in the international system. Previous works detailed the gradual ascendance of nonstate actors, but we did not clarify how we saw the role of states versus nonstate actors. The reviewers suggested that we delve more into the dynamics of governance and explore the complicated relationships among a diverse set of actors. • a better grasp of time and speed. Past Global Trends works “correctly foresaw the direction of the vectors: China up, Russia down. But China’s power has consistently increased faster than expected . . . A comprehensive reading of the four reports leaves a strong impression that [we] tend toward underestimation of the rates of change . . . ” • Greater discussion of crises and discontinuities. The reviewers felt that the use of the word “trends” in the titles suggests more continuity than change. GT 2025, however, “with its strongly worded attention to the likelihood of significant shocks and discontinuities, flirts with a radical revision of this viewpoint.” The authors recommended developing a framework for understanding the relationships among trends, discontinuities, and crises. • Greater attention to ideology. The authors of the study admitted that “ideology is a frustratingly fuzzy concept . . . difficult to define . . . and equally difficult to measure.” They agreed that grand “isms” like fascism and communism might not be on the horizon. However, “smaller politico-pycho- social shifts that often don’t go under the umbrella of ideology but drive behavior” should be a focus. • More understanding of second- and third-order consequences. Trying to identify looming disequilibria may be one approach. More wargaming or simulation exercises to understand possible dynamics among international actors at crucial tipping points was another suggestion. We will let our readers judge how well we met the above challenges in this volume. O F F I C E O F T H E D I R E C T O R O F N A T I O N A L I N T E L L I G E N C E i Global Trends 2030: AlternAtive Worlds E x E c u t i v E S u m m a r y this report is intended to stimulate thinking about the rapid and vast geopolitical changes characterizing the world today and possible global trajectories during the next 15-20 years. As with the niC’s previous Global trends reports, we do not seek to predict the future—which would be an impossible feat—but instead provide a framework for thinking about possible futures and their implications. “ . . . the idea of the future being different from the present is so repugnant to our conventional modes of thought and behavior that we, most of us, offer a great resistance to acting on it in practice.” John Maynard Keynes, 1937 ii Global Trends 2030: AlternAtive Worlds Global trends 2030: an overvIew MeGaTrends Individual empowerment individual empowerment will accelerate owing to poverty reduction, growth of the global middle class, greater educational attainment, widespread use of new communications and manufacturing technologies, and health-care advances. diffusion of Power there will not be any hegemonic power. Power will shift to networks and coalitions in a multipolar world. demographic Patterns the demographic arc of instability will narrow. economic growth might decline in “aging” countries. sixty percent of the world’s population will live in urbanized areas; migration will increase. food, Water, energy nexus demand for these resources will grow substantially owing to an increase in the global population. tackling problems pertaining to one commodity will be linked to supply and demand for the others. GaMe-chanGers crisis-Prone Global economy Will global volatility and imbalances among players with different economic interests result in collapse? or will greater multipolarity lead to increased resiliency in the global economic order? Governance Gap Will governments and institutions be able to adapt fast enough to harness change instead of being overwhelmed by it? Potential for Increased conflict Will rapid changes and shifts in power lead to more intrastate and interstate conflicts? Wider scope of regional Instability Will regional instability, especially in the Middle east and south Asia, spill over and create global insecurity? Impact of new Technologies Will technological breakthroughs be developed in time to boost economic productivity and solve the problems caused by a growing world population, rapid urbanization, and climate change? role of the United states Will the Us be able to work with new partners to reinvent the international system? PoTenTIal Worlds Stalled Engines in the most plausible worst-case scenario, the risks of interstate conflict increase. the Us draws inward and globalization stalls. Fusion in the most plausible best-case outcome, China and the Us collaborate on a range of issues, leading to broader global cooperation. Gini-Out-of-the- Bottle inequalities explode as some countries become big winners and others fail. inequalities within countries increase social tensions. Without completely disengaging, the Us is no longer the “global policeman.” Nonstate World driven by new technologies, nonstate actors take the lead in confronting global challenges. iii Global Trends 2030: AlternAtive Worlds T he world of 2030 will be radically transformed from our world today. By 2030, no country—whether the US, China, or any other large country—will be a hegemonic power. The empowerment of individuals and diffusion of power among states and from states to informal networks will have a dramatic impact, largely reversing the historic rise of the West since 1750, restoring Asia’s weight in the global economy, and ushering in a new era of “democratization” at the international and domestic level. In addition to individual empowerment and the diffusion of state power, we believe that two other megatrends will shape our world out to 2030: demographic patterns, especially rapid aging; and growing resource demands which, in the cases of food and water, might lead to scarcities. These trends, which are virtually certain, exist today, but during the next 15-20 years they will gain much greater momentum. Underpinning the megatrends are tectonic shifts—critical changes to key features of our global environment that will affect how the world “works” (see table on page v). Extrapolations of the megatrends would alone point to a changed world by 2030—but the world could be transformed in radically different ways. We believe that six key game-changers—questions regarding the global economy, governance, conflict, regional instability, technology, and the role of the United States—will largely determine what kind of transformed world we will inhabit in 2030. Several potential Black Swans—discrete events—would cause large-scale disruption (see page xi). All but two of these—the possibility of a democratic China or a reformed Iran—would have negative repercussions. Based upon what we know about the megatrends and the possible interactions between the megatrends and the game-changers, we have delineated four archetypal futures that represent distinct pathways for the world out to 2030. None of these alternative worlds is inevitable. In reality, the future probably will consist of elements from all the scenarios. meGaTrends and relaTed TecTonIc shIfTs meGaTrend 1: IndIvIdual empowermenT Individual empowerment will accelerate substantially during the next 15-20 years owing to poverty reduction and a huge growth of the global middle class, greater educational attainment, and better health care. The growth of the global middle class constitutes a tectonic shift: for the first time, a majority of the world’s population will not be impoverished, and the middle classes will be the most important social and economic sector in the vast majority of countries around the world. Individual empowerment is the most important megatrend because it is both a cause and effect of most other trends—including the expanding global economy, rapid growth of the developing countries, and widespread exploitation of new communications and manufacturing technologies. On the one hand, we see the potential for greater individual initiative as key to solving the mounting global challenges over the next 15-20 years. On the other hand, in a tectonic shift, individuals and small groups will have greater access to lethal and disruptive technologies (particularly precision-strike capabilities, cyber instruments, and bioterror weaponry), enabling them to perpetrate large-scale violence—a capability formerly the monopoly of states. iv Global Trends 2030: AlternAtive Worlds resources. Aging countries will face an uphill battle in maintaining their living standards. Demand for both skilled and unskilled labor will spur global migration. Owing to rapid urbanization in the developing world, the volume of urban construction for housing, office space, and transport services over the next 40 years could roughly equal the entire volume of such construction to date in world history. meGaTrend 4: GrowInG food, waTer, and enerGy nexus Demand for food, water, and energy will grow by approximately 35, 40, and 50 percent respectively owing to an increase in the global population and the consumption patterns of an expanding middle class. Climate change will worsen the outlook for the availability of these critical resources. Climate change analysis suggests that the severity of existing weather patterns will intensify, with wet areas getting wetter and dry and arid areas becoming more so. Much of the decline in precipitation will occur in the Middle East and northern Africa as well as western Central Asia, southern Europe, southern Africa, and the US Southwest. We are not necessarily headed into a world of scarcities, but policymakers and their private sector partners will need to be proactive to avoid such a future. Many countries probably won’t have the wherewithal to avoid food and water shortages without massive help from outside. Tackling problems pertaining to one commodity won’t be possible without affecting supply and demand for the others. Agriculture is highly dependent on accessibility to adequate sources of water as well as on energy-rich fertilizers. Hydropower is a significant source of energy for some regions while new sources of energy—such as biofuels—threaten to exacerbate the potential for food shortages. There is as much scope for negative tradeoffs as there is the potential for positive synergies. Agricultural productivity in Africa, particularly, will require a sea change to avoid shortages. Unlike Asia and South America, which have achieved significant improvements in agricultural production per capita, Africa has only recently returned to 1970s’ levels. meGaTrend 2: dIffusIon of power The diffusion of power among countries will have a dramatic impact by 2030. Asia will have surpassed North America and Europe combined in terms of global power, based upon GDP, population size, military spending, and technological investment. China alone will probably have the largest economy, surpassing that of the United States a few years before 2030. In a tectonic shift, the health of the global economy increasingly will be linked to how well the developing world does—more so than the traditional West. In addition to China, India, and Brazil, regional players such as Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Turkey will become especially important to the global economy. Meanwhile, the economies of Europe, Japan, and Russia are likely to continue their slow relative declines. The shift in national power may be overshadowed by an even more fundamental shift in the nature of power. Enabled by communications technologies, power will shift toward multifaceted and amorphous networks that will form to influence state and global actions. Those countries with some of the strongest fundamentals—GDP, population size, etc.—will not be able to punch their weight unless they also learn to operate in networks and coalitions in a multipolar world. meGaTrend 3: demoGraphIc paTTerns We believe that in the world of 2030—a world in which a growing global population will have reached somewhere close to 8.3 billion people (up from 7.1 billion in 2012)—four demographic trends will fundamentally shape, although not necessarily determine, most countries’ economic and political conditions and relations among countries. These trends are: aging—a tectonic shift for both for the West and increasingly most developing countries; a still-significant but shrinking number of youthful societies and states; migration, which will increasingly be a cross-border issue; and growing urbanization— another tectonic shift, which will spur economic growth but could put new strains on food and water v Global Trends 2030: AlternAtive Worlds In a likely tectonic shift, the United States could become energy-independent. The US has regained its position as the world’s largest natural gas producer and expanded the life of its reserves from 30 to 100 years due to hydraulic fracturing technology. Additional crude oil production through the use of “fracking” drilling technologies on difficult-to-reach oil deposits could result in a big reduction in the US net trade balance and improved overall economic growth. Debates over environmental concerns about fracturing, notably pollution of water sources, could derail such developments, however. TecTonIc shIfTs beTWeen noW and 2030 Growth of the Global Middle class Middle classes most everywhere in the developing world are poised to expand substantially in terms of both absolute numbers and the percentage of the population that can claim middle- class status during the next 15-20 years. Wider access to lethal and disruptive Technologies A wider spectrum of instruments of war—especially precision-strike capabilities, cyber instruments, and bioterror weapony—will become accessible. individuals and small groups will have the capability to perpetrate large-scale violence and disruption—a capability formerly the monopoly of states. definitive shift of economic Power to the east and south the Us, european, and Japanese share of global income is projected to fall from 56 percent today to well under half by 2030. in 2008, China overtook the Us as the world’s largest saver; by 2020, emerging markets’ share of financial assets is projected to almost double. Unprecedented and Widespread aging Whereas in 2012 only Japan and Germany have matured beyond a median age of 45 years, most european countries, south Korea, and taiwan will have entered the post-mature age category by 2030. Migration will become more globalized as both rich and developing countries suffer from workforce shortages. Urbanization today’s roughly 50-percent urban population will climb to nearly 60 percent, or 4.9 billion people, in 2030. Africa will gradually replace Asia as the region with the highest urbanization growth rate. Urban centers are estimated to generate 80 percent of economic growth; the potential exists to apply modern technologies and infrastructure, promoting better use of scarce resources. food and Water Pressures demand for food is expected to rise at least 35 percent by 2030 while demand for water is expected to rise by 40 percent. nearly half of the world’s population will live in areas experiencing severe water stress. Fragile states in Africa and the Middle east are most at risk of experiencing food and water shortages, but China and india are also vulnerable. Us energy Independence With shale gas, the Us will have sufficient natural gas to meet domestic needs and generate potential global exports for decades to come. increased oil production from difficult-to-access oil deposits would result in a substantial reduction in the Us net trade balance and faster economic expansion. Global spare capacity may exceed over 8 million barrels, at which point oPeC would lose price control and crude oil prices would collapse, causing a major negative impact on oil-export economies. vi Global Trends 2030: AlternAtive Worlds Earlier economic crises, such as the 1930s’ Great Depression, also hit when the age structures of many Western populations were relatively youthful, providing a demographic bonus during the postwar economic boom. However, such a bonus will not exist in any prospective recovery for Western countries. To compensate for drops in labor-force growth, hoped-for economic gains will have to come from growth in productivity. The United States is in a better position because its workforce is projected to increase during the next decade, but the US will still need to increase labor productivity to offset its slowly aging workforce. A critical question is whether technology can sufficiently boost economic productivity to prevent a long-term slowdown. As we have noted, the world’s economic prospects will increasingly depend on the fortunes of the East and South. The developing world already provides more than 50 percent of global economic growth and 40 percent of global investment. Its contribution to global investment growth is more than 70 percent. China’s contribution is now one and a half times the size of the US contribution. In the World Bank’s baseline modeling of future economic multipolarity, China—despite a likely slowing of its economic growth—will contribute about one-third of global growth by 2025, far more than any other economy. Emerging market demand for infrastructure, housing, consumer goods, and new plants and equipment will raise global investment to levels not seen in four decades. Global savings may not match this rise, resulting in upward pressure on long-term interest rates. Despite their growing economic clout, developing countries will face their own challenges, especially in their efforts to continue the momentum behind their rapid economic growth. China has averaged 10-percent real growth during the past three decades; by 2020 its economy will probably be expanding by only 5 percent, according to several private-sector forecasts. The slower growth will mean downward pressure on per capita income growth. China faces the prospect of being trapped in middle-income status, with its per capita income not continuing to increase to the level of the world’s advanced economies. India faces Game-chanGers Game-chanGer 1: The crIsIs-prone Global economy The international economy almost certainly will continue to be characterized by various regional and national economies moving at significantly different speeds—a pattern reinforced by the 2008 global financial crisis. The contrasting speeds across different regional economies are exacerbating global imbalances and straining governments and the international system. The key question is whether the divergences and increased volatility will result in a global breakdown and collapse or whether the development of multiple growth centers will lead to resiliency. The absence of a clear hegemonic economic power could add to the volatility. Some experts have compared the relative decline in the economic weight of the US to the late 19th century when economic dominance by one player—Britain—receded into multipolarity. A return to pre-2008 growth rates and previous patterns of rapid globalization looks increasingly unlikely, at least for the next decade. Across G-7 countries, total nonfinancial debt has doubled since 1980 to 300 percent of GDP, accumulating over a generation. Historical studies indicate that recessions involving financial crises tend to be deeper and require recoveries that take twice as long. Major Western economies—with some exceptions such as the US, Australia, and South Korea—have only just begun deleveraging (reducing their debts); previous episodes have taken close to a decade. Another major global economic crisis cannot be ruled out. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the potential impact of an unruly Greek exit from the euro zone could cause eight times the collateral damage as the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. Regardless of which solution is eventually chosen, progress will be needed on several fronts to restore euro zone stability. Doing so will take several years at a minimum, with many experts talking about a whole decade before stability returns. vii Global Trends 2030: AlternAtive Worlds during the next 15-20 years. Countries moving from autocracy to democracy have a proven track record of instability. Other countries will continue to suffer from a democratic deficit: in these cases a country’s developmental level is more advanced than its level of governance. Gulf countries and China account for a large number in this category. China, for example, is slated to pass the threshold of US $15,000 per capita purchasing power parity (PPP) in the next five years, which is often a trigger for democratization. Chinese democratization could constitute an immense “wave,” increasing pressure for change on other authoritarian states. The widespread use of new communications technologies will become a double-edged sword for governance. On the one hand, social networking will enable citizens to coalesce and challenge governments, as we have already seen in Middle East. On the other hand, such technologies will provide governments— both authoritarian and democratic—an unprecedented ability to monitor their citizens. It is unclear how the balance will be struck between greater IT-enabled individuals and networks and traditional political structures. In our interactions, technologists and political scientists have offered divergent views. Both sides agree, however, that the characteristics of IT use—multiple and simultaneous action, near instantaneous responses, mass organization across geographic boundaries, and technological dependence—increase the potential for more frequent discontinuous change in the international system. The current, largely Western dominance of global structures such as the UN Security Council, World Bank, and IMF probably will have been transformed by 2030 to be more in line with the changing hierarchy of new economic players. Many second-tier emerging powers will be making their mark—at least as emerging regional leaders. Just as the larger G-20— rather than G-7/8—was energized to deal with the 2008 financial crisis, we expect that other institutions will be updated—probably also in response to crises. many of the same problems and traps accompanying rapid growth as China: large inequities between rural and urban sectors and within society; increasing constraints on resources such as water; and a need for greater investment in science and technology to continue to move its economy up the value chain. Game-chanGer 2: The Governance Gap During the next 15-20 years, as power becomes even more diffuse than today, a growing number of diverse state and nonstate actors, as well as subnational actors, such as cities, will play important governance roles. The increasing number of players needed to solve major transnational challenges—and their discordant values—will complicate decisionmaking. The lack of consensus between and among established and emerging powers suggests that multilateral governance to 2030 will be limited at best. The chronic deficit probably will reinforce the trend toward fragmentation. However, various developments— positive or negative—could push the world in different directions. Advances cannot be ruled out despite growing multipolarity, increased regionalism, and possible economic slowdowns. Prospects for achieving progress on global issues will vary across issues. The governance gap will continue to be most pronounced at the domestic level and driven by rapid political and social changes. The advances during the past couple decades in health, education, and income—which we expect to continue, if not accelerate in some cases—will drive new governance structures. Transitions to democracy are much more stable and long-lasting when youth bulges begin to decline and incomes are higher. Currently about 50 countries are in the awkward stage between autocracy and democracy, with the greatest number concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast and Central Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa. Both social science theory and recent history—the Color Revolutions and the Arab Spring—support the idea that with maturing age structures and rising incomes, political liberalization and democracy will advance. However, many countries will still be zig-zagging their way through the complicated democratization process viii Global Trends 2030: AlternAtive Worlds in Asia and the Middle East. A more fragmented international system in which existing forms of cooperation are no longer seen as advantageous to many of the key global players would also increase the potential for competition and even great power conflict. However, if such a conflict occurs, it almost certainly will not be on the level of a world war with all major powers engaged. Three different baskets of risks could conspire to increase the chances of an outbreak of interstate conflict: changing calculations of key players— particularly China, India, and Russia; increasing contention over resource issues; and a wider spectrum of more accessible instruments of war. With the potential for increased proliferation and growing concerns about nuclear security, risks are growing that future wars in South Asia and the Middle East would risk inclusion of a nuclear deterrent. The current Islamist phase of terrorism might end by 2030, but terrorism is unlikely to die completely. Many states might continue to use terrorist group out of a strong sense of insecurity, although the costs to a regime of directly supporting terrorists looks set to become even greater as international cooperation increases. With more widespread access to lethal and disruptive technologies, individuals who are experts in such niche areas as cyber systems might sell their services to the highest bidder, including terrorists who would focus less on causing mass casualties and more on creating widespread economic and financial disruptions. Game-chanGer 4: wIder scope of reGIonal InsTabIlITy Regional dynamics in several different theaters during the next couple decades will have the potential to spill over and create global insecurity. The Middle East and South Asia are the two regions most likely to trigger broader instability. In the Middle East, the youth bulge—a driving force of the recent Arab Spring—will give way to a gradually aging population. With new technologies beginning to provide the world with other sources of oil and gas, the region’s economy Game-chanGer 3: poTenTIal for Increased conflIcT Historical trends during the past two decades show fewer major armed conflicts and, where conflicts remain, fewer civilian and military casualties than in previous decades. Maturing age structures in many developing countries point to continuing declines in intrastate conflict. We believe the disincentives will remain strong against great power conflict: too much would be at stake. Nevertheless, we need to be cautious about the prospects for further declines in the number and intensity of intrastate conflicts, and interstate conflict remains a possibility. Intrastate conflicts have gradually increased in countries with a mature overall population that contain a politically dissonant, youthful ethnic minority. Strife involving ethnic Kurds in Turkey, Shia in Lebanon, and Pattani Muslims in southern Thailand are examples of such situations. Looking forward, the potential for conflict to occur in Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to remain high even after some of the region’s countries graduate into a more intermediate age structure because of the probable large number of ethnic and tribal minorities that will remain more youthful than the overall population. Insufficient natural resources— such as water and arable land—in many of the same countries that will have disproportionate levels of young men increase the risks of intrastate conflict breaking out, particularly in Sub-Saharan African and South and East Asian countries, including China and India. A number of these countries—Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Somalia—also have faltering governance institutions. Though by no means inevitable, the risks of interstate conflict are increasing owing to changes in the international system. The underpinnings of the post-Cold War equilibrium are beginning to shift. During the next 15-20 years, the US will be grappling with the degree to which it can continue to play the role of systemic guardian and guarantor of the global order. A declining US unwillingness and/or slipping capacity to serve as a global security provider would be a key factor contributing to instability, particularly ix Global Trends 2030: AlternAtive Worlds will need to become increasingly diversified. But the Middle East’s trajectory will depend on its political landscape. On the one hand, if the Islamic Republic maintains power in Iran and is able to develop nuclear weapons, the Middle East will face a highly unstable future. On the other hand, the emergence of moderate, democratic governments or a breakthrough agreement to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could have enormously positive consequences. South Asia faces a series of internal and external shocks during the next 15-20 years. Low growth, rising food prices, and energy shortages will pose stiff challenges to governance in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s and Pakistan’s youth bulges are large—similar in size to those found in many African countries. When these youth bulges are combined with a slow-growing economy, they portend increased instability. India is in a better position, benefiting from higher growth, but it will still be challenged to find jobs for its large youth population. Inequality, lack of infrastructure, and education deficiencies are key weaknesses in India. The neighborhood has always had a profound influence on internal developments, increasing the sense of insecurity and bolstering military outlays. Conflict could erupt and spread under numerous scenarios. Conflicting strategic goals, widespread distrust, and the hedging strategies by all the parties will make it difficult for them to develop a strong regional security framework. An increasingly multipolar Asia lacking a well-anchored regional security framework able to arbitrate and mitigate rising tensions would constitute one of the largest global threats. Fear of Chinese power, the likelihood of growing Chinese nationalism, and possible questions about the US remaining involved in the region will increase insecurities. An unstable Asia would cause large-scale damage to the global economy. Changing dynamics in other regions would also jeopardize global security. Europe has been a critical security provider, ensuring, for example, Central Europe’s integration into the “West” after the end of the Cold War. A more inward-focused and less capable Europe would provide a smaller stabilizing force for crises in neighboring regions. On the other hand, a Europe which overcomes its current intertwined political and economic crises could see its global role enhanced. Such a Europe could help to integrate its rapidly developing neighbors in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central Asia into the global economy and broader international system. A modernizing Russia could integrate itself into a wider international community; at the same time, a Russia which fails to build a more diversified economy and more liberal domestic order could increasingly pose a regional and global threat. Progress toward greater regional cohesion and integration in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa would promise increased stability in those regions and a reduced threat to global security. Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean will remain vulnerable, nevertheless, to state failure through 2030, providing safe havens for both global criminal and terrorist networks and local insurgents. Game-chanGer 5: The ImpacT of new TechnoloGIes Four technology arenas will shape global economic, social, and military developments as well as the world community’s actions pertaining to the environment by 2030. Information technology is entering the big data era. Process power and data storage are becoming almost free; networks and the cloud will provide global access and pervasive services; social media and cybersecurity will be large new markets. This growth and diffusion will present significant challenges for governments and societies, which must find ways to capture the benefits of new IT technologies while dealing with the new threats that those technologies present. Fear of the growth of an Orwellian surveillance state may lead citizens particularly in the developed world to pressure their governments to restrict or dismantle big data systems. Information technology-based solutions to maximize citizens’ economic productivity and quality of x Global Trends 2030: AlternAtive Worlds life while minimizing resource consumption and environmental degradation will be critical to ensuring the viability of megacities. Some of the world’s future megacities will essentially be built from scratch, enabling a blank-slate approach to infrastructure design and implementation that could allow for the most effective possible deployment of new urban technologies—or create urban nightmares, if such new technologies are not deployed effectively. New manufacturing and automation technologies such as additive manufacturing (3D printing) and robotics have the potential to change work patterns in both the developing and developed worlds. In developed countries these technologies will improve productivity, address labor constraints, and diminish the need for outsourcing, especially if reducing the length of supply chains brings clear benefits. Nevertheless, such technologies could still have a similar effect as outsourcing: they could make more low- and semi-skilled manufacturing workers in developed economies redundant, exacerbating domestic inequalities. For developing economies, particularly Asian ones, the new technologies will stimulate new manufacturing capabilities and further increase the competitiveness of Asian manufacturers and suppliers. Breakthroughs, especially for technologies pertaining to the security of vital resources—will be neccessary to meet the food, water, and energy needs of the world’s population. Key technologies likely to be at the forefront of maintaining such resources in the next 15-20 years will include genetically modified crops, precision agriculture, water irrigation techniques, solar energy, advanced bio-based fuels, and enhanced oil and natural gas extraction via fracturing. Given the vulnerabilities of developing economies to key resource supplies and prices and the early impacts of climate change, key developing countries may realize substantial rewards in commercializing many next-generation resource technologies first. Aside from being cost competitive, any expansion or adoption of both existing and next-generation resource technologies over the next 20 years will largely depend on social acceptance and the direction and resolution of any ensuing political issues. Last but not least, new health technologies will continue to extend the average age of populations around the world, by ameliorating debilitating physical and mental conditions and improving overall well-being. The greatest gains in healthy longevity are likely to occur in those countries with developing economies as the size of their middle class populations swells. The health-care systems in these countries may be poor today, but by 2030 they will make substantial progress in the longevity potential of their populations; by 2030 many leading centers of innovation in disease management will be in the developing world. Game-chanGer 6: The role of The unITed sTaTes How the United States’ international role evolves during the next 15-20 years—a big uncertainty—and whether the US will be able to work with new partners to reinvent the international system will be among the most important variables in the future shape of the global order. Although the United States’ (and the West’s) relative decline vis-a-vis the rising states is inevitable, its future role in the international system is much harder to project: the degree to which the US continues to dominate the international system could vary widely. The US most likely will remain “first among equals” among the other great powers in 2030 because of its preeminence across a range of power dimensions and legacies of its leadership role. More important than just its economic weight, the United States’ dominant role in international politics has derived from its preponderance across the board in both hard and soft power. Nevertheless, with the rapid rise of other countries, the “unipolar moment” is over and Pax Americana—the era of American ascendancy in international politics that began in 1945—is fast winding down. The context in which the US global power will operate will change dramatically. Most of Washington’s historic