In January 2001, the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC), a center within the Central Intelligence Agency that provides the agency’s director with mid- and long-term strategic thinking and direction, published Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future with Nongovernmental Experts. This unclassified and public report, which expanded on the NIC’s previous effort Global Trends 2010, takes a look at the world over the next 15 years from the perspective of the national security policymaker.
Produced in consultation with experts outside the intelligence community from academia, think-tanks, and the corporate world, Global Trends 2015 identifies worldwide seven dynamics or “drivers” (such as demographic trends, natural resources, globalization, and the role of the United States) and estimates their impact in an effort to produce a comprehensive picture of the world in 2015. In his introductory letter to the report, then-NIC Chairman John Gannon wrote that Global Trends 2015 “should be seen as a work-in-progress, a flexible framework for thinking about the future that we will update and revise as conditions evolve. As such, we are pleased to share it with the public, confident that the feedback we receive will improve our understanding of the issues we treat. We welcome comments on all aspects of this study.”
The Environmental Change and Security Project invited a wide range of scientists, government officials, nongovernmental activists, and defense analysts from across the globe to write commentaries on any aspect of Global Trends 2015 that struck them. Fourteen responded, and their commentaries follow below excerpts of the report itself. Finally, Ellen Laipson, acting chairman of the NIC, responds at length to the commentaries. We are pleased and proud to present this fertile exchange.