The Next (Fifth) Edition of Their (UK) Global Strategic Trends Programme, A Team from Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) comprising Brigadier Matthew John Holmes and Lieutenant Colonel Myles Fitzpatric Cook

The Next (Fifth) Edition of Their (UK) Global Strategic Trends Programme, A Team from Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) comprising Brigadier Matthew John Holmes and Lieutenant Colonel Myles Fitzpatric Cook

Brief Report on the Round Table Discussions on

“Global Strategic Trends: 2045”

Introduction

A British delegation comprising Brig Mathew John Holmes and Lt Col Myles Cook. made a presentation at the USI on 07 Feb 2014, on the “Global Strategic Trends(GST) : 2045” ,a project, piloted by the British Development ,Concept and Doctrine Center, London. The session was chaired by Maj Gen PJS Sandhu (Retd).

Objective 

The objective was to predict likely future, developments globally over next thirty years or so based on trend analysis .Analysis was done by mapping ideas from previous GSTs, by their in-house analysis team.

Deductions based on Various Parameters 

A shift is taking place in economic power away from Europe and North America towards southern Asia .China’s GDP is likely to surpass the US GDP by 2016. Demographically the number with disposable income is expected to increase by 3 billion approximately. The global population is likely to increase by 2 billion people by 2045. The Middle East, Central Asia and Africa will face a youth bulge; this will challenge the economics of these nations and may lead to instability if not addressed properly. Simultaneously with longevity, the number of people aged over 60 is likely to be more than 20 per cent .This will increase expenditure on social security. There will be a disproportionately high male to female population in Asian countries mainly India and China, The problem of migration will grow and ethnic conflicts will increase in Asia and Africa. There will be shortage of food and water. Demand of food will increase by 70 per cent and fresh water demand is likely to increase by 55 per cent. Climate change will also increase the temperature globally by 2 degrees.

Globalisation in terms of spread of information and ideas across the globe will create interdependency. Information technology will continue to drive significant change. In 2000, the highest performing processors achieved levels of computation equivalent to that of a spider; today they are close to being as powerful as the brain of a mouse.  If processing power continues to grow at its current rate of doubling every 3 years by 2023. Some computers could have the processing power of the human brain and by 2045 they could be 100,000 times more powerful.  By 2020 it is estimated that there will be 50 bn devices connected to the internet and on that projection the number of connected devices will be in excess of 7 tn by 2045.

 By 2045, advances in artificial intelligence are likely to mean that a virtual telephone operator will be indistinguishable from a human one. Robots will begin replacing infantry soldiers in the next 10 years – whilst a total replacement may be unlikely, it seems almost certain that robots will take on more and more military roles. Unmanned air systems will continue to become more capable as will unmanned maritime systems. Unmanned submarines will conduct reconnaissance and intelligence gathering missions.

3D printing and other technologies could allow non-state actors to acquire advanced weapons easily. Technology could also allow non-state actors to project power (for example through cyber-attacks).  Accessibility of technology also could make it easier to acquire the means of developing chemical, biological and other weapons of mass effect.

Religion would continue to be important. Whether the proportion of people who claim to adhere to a religion increases or not in the coming decades, religion will be an important influence for many, especially during times of upheaval, since it satisfies the need for identity and belonging. It also offers a means by which to understand a complex world.

Social media will allow individuals to form associations and groups across national boundaries.  As global networks grow, people will move abroad more frequently. This is likely to reduce the bond between a person and country of origin It could lead to events in one place having an impact far from their point of origin.  

Globalisation is likely to lead to increasing constraints on countries’ freedom of action. Countries are likely to become more economically and politically interdependent in the 2045 timeframe and would increasingly become reliant on other countries for food, water, energy and materials. Smaller countries in particular are likely to act as trade blocs. Non-state actors will increase in number and influence.  Multi-national corporations (MNCs) and large non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are likely to grow in power, playing an increasingly important role in international politics.

Corruption will remain a serious challenge and it will become more complex – exploiting technology, weaknesses in states and institutions, and the growing complexity of the international systems. Corruption will also continue to disproportionately affect the poor. Global efforts to counter corruption are likely to continue to develop, most likely in an increasingly international and collaborative way, underpinned by treaties and formal agreements.

The risk of a major conflict remains. Terrorism looks likely to endure – enhanced by the spread of technology.

Discussion     

It was suggested that while analysing the trends stress should be laid on the complexities of Asia, because nations in Asia will impact the trends globally as economic power is shifting to Asia. It was also mentioned that though there were commonalities between the NIC model of USA and the GST of UK, the former was more comprehensive in its predictions and scenario building where as GST kept its conclusions more open ended and also it did not take critical uncertainties into account. The challenges of South Asia like stabilisation of political system, problems of health, education, poverty and slow industrial progress were also highlighted. The negative impact of fundamentalism and rise of Islamic jihadi movement leading to socio-political instability has the potential to impact the strategic trends. Indian Ocean is another area of importance due to its Sea Lances of Communications and the Sea bed resources .The defence expenditure in Asia has grown and the nuclear states are constantly trying to achieve strategic equilibrium.  There has been a gradual decline in American ability to shape things globally, this is more so in the Indian Ocean region.

Conclusion

The key trends which emerged were that there will be a shift in the balance of power towards South and Eastwards, the starting point may be economics, but subsequently political and military will also play an important role .Technology will be the driving force and UAVs ,3D Printing, Laser and Energy weapons will change the security paradigm. Most importantly, the capacity of international organisations and governments to manage these changes will be crucial.

The team appreciated the strategic sight and the new issues which were flagged during the discussion. The GST team offered to send the initial draft to USI for their comments and suggestions.

 

 
 Opening Remarks
 
 The Presentation
 
 Discussion

 

 

Compiled by Col Saif Khan and Dr Roshan Khaniejo 

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