The World in 2030


Judging by recent events, 2030 is the new 2020.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with an insurance company discussing mega-trends likely to impact on the world out to 2030. Last week I was asked, alongside Oliver Freeman, to comment on a National Intelligence Council (NIC) document looking at global trends for 2030. I guess 2020 is now considered too close to be interesting or perhaps the “2020 Vision” joke is starting to wear a bit thin.

The NIC document (publicly available from the NIC website or in hard copy via Amazon) identifies 4 mega-trends for 2030. These are: individual empowerment, diffusion of power, demographic shifts and the energy/water/food nexus (See Shell’s latest set of scenarios that identify the same energy/food/water stress nexus). Headlines include the rapid growth of a prosperous middle class (up to 3 billion people globally against one billion today) and the forecast that Islamic terrorism may subside, although the tactics of terrorists are likely to continue, alongside increased interstate tensions relating to key resources. The NIC foresees the US remaining a preeminent world power, although it is no longer uniquely dominant.

The NIC report also highlights six game-changers. These are: a crisis-prone global economy, a governance gap, increased conflict potential, wider scope of regional instability, impact of new technologies and the role of the US in re-inventing the international system. I will let you have my comments on the NIC report when I’ve read and digested it.

To bring 2030 to a close, Ross Dawson’s scenario framework for 2030 is worth a look, but if you don’t have time the matrix is based around two key drivers. The first is resource availability (resource poverty versus resource affluence) while the other is around social cohesion.

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