Global trends report: Are you ready for the next 20 years?
The National Intelligence Council (NIC) published its latest "Global Trends" report in January this year. The NIC continues to keep a close eye on trends and events in China. It expects that countries will move away from models of independence and self-sufficiency (such as Japan has pursued), and will place more importance on strengthening relationships with other countries.
The title of the 2017 report is “The Paradox of Progress”. Its premise is that the world is full of contradictions, with the achievements of the industrial and information ages shaping a world which offers promise as well as peril.
The NIC has published "Global Trends" every four years since 1997. Its aim is to assess the major trends and uncertainties that will influence modern society over the next 20 years. Because of the leading role played by medium- and long-term policies in the U.S. in shaping the world view, these reports tend to be an analysis of the world situation as determined by the actions and outlook of the U.S. itself.
In terms of the next five years for Asia, economic and geopolitical factors will ensure the Far East and Southeast Asia (including Japan) remain in focus. Emerging countries in the region, such as India and Indonesia are increasingly influential, and have a key role to play. This is in addition to trends in the established relationships between Japan, the United States and China. With China's power increasing in East Asia, there is now a growing possibility that Japan will finally move to amend Article 9 of its Constitution, to give it the right to self-defense, and will look to strengthen its relationships with other countries, including the U.S. In the previous edition of the report, China had been expected to overtake the US in economic terms by 2030. However, the patterns of economic growth in these two countries have shifted materially since then.
The report does not predict an optimistic outlook for the world, and its main concern is the prospect of a slowdown in international growth. Opinions vary as to the effectiveness of governments’ new models of economic development. Worldwide, tensions are rising both in countries and between them, with the threat of terrorism a growing risk.
3 possible scenarios that could play out in the next 20 years.
The report outlines three potential scenarios in the world in response to the current volatility.
The first scenario is called "Islands". In this scenario, the restructuring of the international economy leads to a long-term slowdown in growth.
In the second scenario, "Orbits" the growth of major powers seeking to widen their global influence leads to an increased risk of interstate conflict.
In the third scenario, "Communities", international issues and problems are resolved by a collaborative efforts between enterprises, advocacy groups, NGOs (international cooperation organizations), and local governments, rather than by national governments, whose problem solving capacities have diminished.
Of these three outlooks, the scenario that we eventually end up with will largely depend on the aspirations and desire for change of populations themselves. As the report puts it, the central problem facing society is “how to blend individual, collective, and national endowments in a way that yields sustainable security, prosperity, and hope”.