More Global Trends

Last week, I introduced the National Intelligence Council’s capstone publication “Global Trends: Paradox of Progress.” It is our intelligence community’s forecast of macro-trends that will impact all of us.

With last week’s post as preamble, just what does Global Trends: Paradox of Progress tell us about the future and what does that portend? Among the strategic foresight put forward in this report:

  • The next five years will see rising tensions within and between countries. Global growth will slow, just as increasingly complex global challenges impend. An ever-widening range of states, organizations, and empowered individuals will shape geopolitics.
  • While these other entities take shape, states remain highly relevant. China and Russia will be emboldened, while regional aggressors and non-state actors will see openings to pursue their interests.
  • The threat from terrorism will expand in the coming decades as the growing prominence of small groups and individuals use new technologies, ideas and relationships to their advantage.
  • The same trends generating near-term risks also can create opportunities for better outcomes over the long term. While advancing technology enriched the richest and lifted that billion out of poverty, mostly in Asia, it also hollowed out Western middle classes and stoked pushback against globalization.
  • Migrant flows are greater now than in the past seventy years, raising the specter of drained welfare coffers and increased competition for jobs, and reinforcing nativist, anti-elite impulses. Slow growth plus technology-induced disruptions in job markets will threaten poverty reduction and drive tensions within countries in the years to come, fueling the very nationalism that contributes to tensions between countries.
  • However, this dreary near future is hardly cast in stone. The same trends generating near-term risks can also create opportunities for better outcomes in the long-term. Whether the next five or twenty years are brighter—or darker—will turn on three choices:
    • How will individuals, groups, and governments renegotiate their expectations of one another to create political order in an era of empowered individuals and rapidly changing economies?
    • To what extent will major state powers, as well as individuals and groups, craft new patterns or architectures of international cooperation and competition?
    • To what extent will governments, groups, and individuals prepare now for multifaceted global issues like climate change and transformative technologies?

Want more now? You can read Global Trends: Paradox of Progress here