Stimson has contributed analyses on global environmental
trends and maritime security to the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds
report (December 2012). Global Trends
provides a strategic framework for US policymakers to consider future
geopolitical trends, challenges, and opportunities, and analyze the various
ways that the shifting global landscapes of human security, economic development,
military balances-of-power, and environmental security could affect US
interests at home and abroad in the decades ahead. Stimson also hosted
workshops and panel discussions on maritime security in support of the project,
engaging thought leaders on emerging commercial, environmental, and military
trends in geopolitical hot zones including the Indian Ocean, South China Sea,
and the Arctic.
Long-term economic growth has emboldened rising powers China
and India, with significant implications for the global geopolitical order out
to 2030, according to the report. Two of the most strategic frontiers on which the
Asian giants confront one another are the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea,
site of lucrative fisheries, key shipping lanes, major commercial ports and
naval bases, and substantial untapped oil and natural gas reserves rendered
newly accessible thanks to technological innovations in the drilling industry.
Both countries aim to enhance their geopolitical influence across the broader
Indo-Pacific Ocean region. In India, the idea of a “new extended
commons” brought under the sphere of Indian influence “would include
cyberspace, outer space, and maritime space,” the report states.
Meanwhile, the report finds that “burgeoning capabilities” in the
Chinese military may impact “US ability to project air and maritime
forces” in and around East Asia, potentially eroding “the US ability
to assure allies in the region.”
Stimson also provided input on global water scarcity and
climate change trends, two interrelated phenomena with significant implications
for agricultural production, energy generation, and global and regional
security during the coming decades. The report identified the “Food,
Water, Energy Nexus” as one of five global megatrends that will shape the
international community over the next 20 years, projecting that “demand
for these resources will grow substantially owing to an increase in the global
population.” Highlighting the holistic nature of the nexus, the report affirmed
that food, water, and energy issues must be addressed in concert, as
“tackling problems pertaining to one commodity will be linked to supply
and demand for the others.”
Global demand for food and water in 2030 is projected to
jump 35 and 40 percent past current levels, respectively, with nearly half the
planet’s population in 2030 living in locations coping with “severe water
stress.” The dual impacts of food and water shortages primarily threaten
“fragile states in Africa and the Middle East,” according to the report,
although China and India are deemed “vulnerable” as well.
Underscoring water’s importance to economic modernization and sustained GDP
growth in China and India, the report projects that “water is likely to be
as much of a challenge as energy for both giants” between now and 2030,
with supply impacted by inefficient usage, pollution, and increasing climate
change impacts increasing beyond 2030.
Prior to the release of the latest Global Trends report, Stimson also participated in a thorough
review of the series’ previous editions, and hosted a workshop in support of
the effort. The review committee recommended several adjustments to the report
which are reflected in the most current edition, including a greater emphasis
on the US role in the international system out to 2030, more detailed forecasts
regarding the pace at which certain geopolitical trends may unfold, and an
increased focus on the impacts of political, psychological, and social
ideologies on global affairs.
The report marks the fifth installment in the NIC’s Global Trends series. To solicit input
for the latest report, the NIC held meetings in nearly 20 countries in close
coordination with regional governments, businesses, universities, and think
tanks. These events provided the fora for expert input from the private-,
public-, and NGO sectors, which was synthesized into the final report to
highlight a range of possible global trajectories over the next 20 years on
topics as diverse as poverty reduction, global governance, technological innovation,
demographic change, economic growth patterns, and food and water security.
To download the full report, click here.