ODNI Releases Global Trends Projections
Source: National Intelligence Council
Ref: NIC 2012-001; ISBN 978-1-929667-21-5
Issued Dec. 10, 2012
160 pages in PDF format

The world of 2030 will be radically transformed from our world today, according to projections in a quadrennial report by the Intelligence Community’s top analysts. The report, prepared by the National Intelligence Council of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was made public today by the ODNI.

The ODNI report, “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds,” projects that by 2030 the U.S. most likely will remain “first among equals” among the other great powers, due to the legacy of its leadership role in the world and the dominant role it has played in international politics across the board in both hard and soft power. The replacement of the U.S. by another global power and construction of a new international order is an unlikely outcome in this time period.

Nevertheless, with the rapid rise of other countries, the “unipolar moment” is over and no country – whether the U.S., China, or any other country – will be a hegemonic power. In terms of the indices of overall power – GDP, population size, military spending and technological investment – Asia will surpass North America and Europe combined.

The empowerment of individuals, the diffusion of power among states, and from states to informal networks, will have a dramatic impact bringing a growing democratization, at both the international and domestic level. Additionally, two other “megatrends” will shape the world out to 2030: Demographic patterns especially rapid aging and growing demands on resources such as food and water, which might lead to scarcities. These trends, which exist today, are projected to gain momentum over the coming 15-20 years.

“Global Trends 2030” identifies six “tectonic shifts” – critical changes to key features of the global environment – underpinning the megatrends that will affect how the world works. One positive “shift” sees energy independence for the U.S. in as short a period as 10 to 20 years due to abundant quantities of shale gas. A more sinister “shift” could be the wider access to lethal and disruptive technologies such as bioterror weapons and cyber instruments, which could offer a means for individuals and small groups to inflict large-scale violence and disruption.

The report also outlines six key “game-changers” – questions regarding the global economy, governance, conflict, regional instability, technology and the role of the U.S. – which will largely determine what kind of transformed world will be inhabited in 2030.

The NIC publishes a new edition of Global Trends every four years, in a presidential election year, to assist the next – in this case the returning – administration in its strategic review. This is the fifth edition of Global Trends beginning with “Global Trends 2010.” As with previous reports, it does not seek to predict the future, but instead provides a framework for thinking about possible futures – assessing key trends and their implications.

“Global Trends 2030” has been the largest collaborative effort of all the editions relying on a diversity of perspectives to enrich the work. The NIC held many meetings with government officials, businesses, universities and think tanks and reached out to experts in 20 countries. One benefit has been growing interest elsewhere in global trends: Several governments and organizations now prepare similar reports, helping to inform the NIC’s work.

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