The process of creating Global Trends is as important as the final report. The NIC learns from individuals and organizations around the world while coincidentally fostering strategic, future-focused discussions across cultures and interests. Our two year process began in 2014 and took us to 36 countries and territories— allowing us to build up from roughly 2,500 local and diverse perspectives to a global view.

On each trip, we met with people from all walks of life in major cities and often smaller towns. We sought perspectives from the worlds of business, philanthropy, science, technology, arts, humanities, and international affairs. We met with religious men and women, people of deep formal learning and those schooled in practical matters. Our visits with students and youth were especially valuable—challenging us to see what could be. Without fail, our interlocutors were generous with their insights and time, even when delivering difficult messages. “Aha!” moments were plentiful, helping us make connections across regions and topics. A few interlocutors, no doubt, sought to shape the views of official Washington but most shared with us their expectations of the future, whether locally or internationally. Importantly, virtually all saw themselves in some way responsible for the world to come—driving home our key finding that the choices and actions of individuals matter more now than ever.

Although we can thank only a few individuals and organizations by name, we owe everyone we met a debt of gratitude. We appreciate as well the support of the Department of State and its Embassy country teams who facilitated many of these engagements.

Africa. In Angola, civil society and government organizations shared insights on urbanization and poverty reduction and helped us understand how Luanda, Africa’s fourth largest city, is preparing for the future. A very brief visit to Botswana spotlighted key opportunities to build on past governance successes. In Congo, we appreciated discussions with civil society, government, and traditional leaders. In Senegal, we benefitted from discussions on religion, technology, and youth at think tanks. Meetings elsewhere on the continent helped us explore the region’s demographic and economic potential as well as recent dynamics in technology, energy, and identity politics.

Asia and the Pacific. In Australia, the Office of National Assessments, Australia National University’s Futures Hub at the National Security Institute, Lowy Institute, and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation arranged workshops and provided critical feedback throughout. Our time in Burma was spent with numerous civil society and government organizations on interfaith, political reform, and conflict resolution issues. In China, repeat visits to China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations and Peking University were especially helpful—as were sessions with the China Institute for International Strategic Studies, Nanjing University, National Defense University, Fudon University, Renmin University, and the Chinese Executive Leadership Academy at Pudong. In Indonesia, we gained valuable insights from meetings with students, environmentalists, business figures, provincial officials, human rights activists, and religious leaders as well as from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, and other think tanks. In Japan, we thank the Japan Institute for International Affairs, Tokyo Foundation, Institute for Energy and Economics, and the Asian Development Bank Institute, among others. In Singapore, the Prime Minister’s Strategy Office, the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and the National University of Singapore East Asian Institute were especially helpful on geopolitics and foresight methodologies. In South Korea, we were treated to an event organized by ASAN and learned much as well from the WTO Law Center, EWHA Women’s University, Seoul National University, and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. We thank especially Australia’s Rory Medcalf and Andrew Shearer, China’s Cui Liru and Da Wei, Shingo Yamagami in Japan, and Singapore’s Peter Ho for helping us better understand Asia’s changing dynamics and their global implications.

Europe. We thank our fellow travelers in strategic and futures assessment, including the UK’s Cabinet Office, Joint Intelligence Organization, and the Defense Concepts and Doctrine Centre in the Ministry of Defense, the Blavatnik School of Government and the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, and foresight programs with the European Union, NATO, and the OECD. We thank as well for their support, world-class insights, and generosity in hosting or arranging meetings on our behalf: Thomas Bagger, director of the German Foreign Ministry’s policy planning staff, and his British counterpart, Peter Hill; Paolo Ciocca, Deputy Director-General of Italy’s Department of Intelligence for Security; and former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, Hans-Christian Hagman of the foreign ministry, and Lars Hedstrom of the Swedish Defense College. We are extremely grateful to Professor Monica Toft who organized a two-day workshop at the University of Oxford on the future of religion and provided significant contributions to the final report on demography and security dynamics. Oxford scenario planning expert Angela Wilkinson provided early and critical feedback on methods and drafts—as well as the courage to make needed course corrections. US Ambassador to the Holy See Kenneth Hackett arranged two utterly unforgettable meetings with leaders of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State as well as religious men and women working in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Pakistan. A similar meeting in Istanbul with leaders of minority religious communities in Turkey and the Levant made indelible impressions. We benefited from the remarkable convening power of Wilton Park in the UK and its indefatigable Richard Burge and Julia Purcell. Important contributions came from Chatham House, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and think tanks in Italy, Spain, and Turkey. Finally, meetings with leading policy planners and senior officials from Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the European Union and UN agencies—and often in Washington too—helped draw insights across issue sets.

Middle East and North Africa. Discussions with senior officials and civil society leaders in Israel, Jordan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and the West Bank underscored new and old sources of insecurity as well as promise. We are extremely grateful as well to the many thought leaders, journalists, and others who have shared their experiences and perspectives online and otherwise in the public record. In Tunisia, we thank the US diplomatic missions to both Tunis and Tripoli for their insights and arranging meetings with civil society, government, and regional affairs experts as well as numerous women’s rights, labor, political party, human rights, and regional security representatives.

South Asia. In Bangladesh, meetings with city planners and NGO’s underscored the importance of individual contributions to local welfare while think tank discussions informed our views on religion, regional trade potential, and climate change. We thank Daniel Twining of the German Marshall Fund for organizing a terrific week of meetings in Delhi and Mumbai with, among others: the Observer Research Foundation, the Vivekenanda International Foundation, faculty and students at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Brookings India, Gateway House, the Public Health Foundation of India, Tata Industries, the Indian Ministry of Finance, PRS Legislative Research, and TeamLease, one of India’s largest private employers. We appreciate as well insightful exchanges with traders on the Bombay Stock Exchange, journalists, and Hindu and Muslim civil society leaders.

Americas. We are grateful to US diplomats in Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Peru for organizing a robust program of meetings, with friends old and new. In Brasilia, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro, we met with academics, government officials, and thought leaders, including many leading academics, futurist Sylvio Kelsen Coelho, Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva of Sao Paolo Research Foundation (FAPSEP), Ricardo Sennes of Prospectiva, and Rubens Ricupero of the Fundacao Armando Alvares Penteado. In Chile, we are grateful for the time and insights of Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz, the participants of an international affairs roundtable organized by the Ministry’s strategic planning staff, as well as Senator Hernan Larrain and Valor Minero’s Alvaro Garcia Hurtado. We thank Sergio Bitar, director the Global Trends and Future Scenarios Project for the Inter-American Dialogue, for organizing a dinner with leading strategic minds, including Carlos Ominami Fundacion Chile 21 and Senator Guido Girardi Lavin, founder of the Chilean Congressional initiative Challenges of the Future. In Mexico, we thank former Foreign Secretary Jorge Castaneda, Alejandro Hope, Transparency International and other rule of law groups, Ilena Jinich Meckler and Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) students for a remarkable roundtable, CIDE’s Jorge Chabat, and the US Embassy for hosting a roundtable of leading economists. In addition, we benefited from Mexico’s Center for Research for Development (CIDAC) hosting a workshop on the future of the region with experts convened from throughout Central and North America. In Peru, we are grateful for time with Foreign Minister Ricardo Luna, Transparency International’s Jose Ugaz, thought leaders like Roberto Abusada of the Instituto Peruano de Economia, and representatives of industry, media, and academia. An extraordinary session with futurist Francisco Sagasti capped our time in Lima.

In Canada, we thank the International Assessment Secretariat at the Privy Council Office and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for their consistent support and facilitating important exchanges with Canadian leaders and thinkers—allowing us to roadtest key findings in the final drafting stages.

In the United States, we thank the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Deputy Director Stephanie O’Sullivan for their constant encouragement and commitment to strategic analysis, transparency, and diversifying the perspectives that inform our work. We benefitted from close access to sitting and former National Security Council and Departments of State and Defense leadership, policy planners, and net assessors who helped us maximize the policy relevance of Global Trends. We recognize especially Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon and staff, Directors of Policy Planning Jonathan Finer and David McKean, NSC Senior Director for Strategic Planning Salman Ahmed, and Director of the Office of Net Assessments at the Department of Defense James Baker. Always helpful counsel, good humor, and steadfast support came from current NIC Chairman Greg Treverton and Vice Chair Beth Sanner as well as former Chairmen Chris Kojm, Tom Fingar, and Joe Nye and Vice Chairs Joseph Gartin, David Gordon, and Ellen Laipson. David, along with colleagues at Eurasia Group and Brookings’ Thomas Wright, went above and beyond in assisting with endgame geopolitical and economic analysis and filling gaps where needed. Mathew Burrows, former NIC Counselor and principal author of Global Trends 2030, 2025, and 2020 provided critical hand-over guidance and continued to support GT with demographic analysis. Similarly, Richard Cincotta, Banning Garrett and Barry Hughes provided important lessons learned and contacts from prior GTs.

Three remarkable thinkers—science fiction author David Brin, retired CIA leader Carmen Medina, and Professor Steve Weber of UCBerkeley— helped us hone our thinking early and engage ever-more diverse audiences at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, TX. Duke University’s Peter Feaver and University of Texas at Austin’s Will Inboden took the lead in leading a team of scholars in identifying enduring US planning assumptions since 1945. Professor John Ikenberry of Princeton University organized workshops on key themes, engaged with the report on its own terms, and provided critical feedback and support throughout, as did fellow scholars: Robert Art, Dale Copeland, Daniel Drezner, Martha Finnemore, Harold James, Robert Jervis, Jonathan Kirchner, Charles Kupchan, Jeff Legro, Mike Mastanduno, Kate McNamara, John Mearsheimer, Rajan Menon, John Owen, Barry Posen, Randy Schweller, Jack Snyder, William Wohlforth, and Ali Wyne. We thank as well Georgetown’s Casimir Yost, former director of the NIC’s Strategic Futures Group, for taking the lead in crafting the US futures, and Bruce Jones for involving the NIC in Brookings workshops on multilateralism. Mark Sable reviewed multiple drafts, providing extremely helpful suggestions regarding style, voice and argumentation.

Similarly, we are grateful for workshops hosted by Deborah Avant at the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy at the University of Denver, Sumit Ganguly at Indiana University, Steven Krasner at Stanford University, and Steve Weber at UC Berkeley. Author Karen Armstrong, Texas A&M’s Valerie Hudson, University of London’s Eric Kauffman, Kathleen Kuehnast of the US Institute of Peace, and Hamid Khan of the University of South Carolina, among others, were instrumental in helping the NIC address gender and religious issues. Nick Evans and team at Strategic Business Insights provided extensive and sophisticated support on key technologies and their implications. We thank as well New York Congressman Steve Israel for convening a discussion at Baruch College. Our thinking improved as well with critical feedback from experts or audiences at the Atlantic Council, American Enterprise Institute, Brookings, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Columbia University, the Council on Foreign Relations, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Harvard University, the Heritage Foundation, Illinois State University, Penn State University, the Research Triangle of North Carolina consortium, the Stimson Center, Southern Methodist University and the World Affairs Council of Dallas, Stanford University, University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, and the National Laboratories at Oak Ridge, Livermore, and Sandia.

Global Trends: Paradox of Progress would not have happened without the expert and cando support of Hannah Johnson and colleagues at SAIC and Leidos, who helped us convene workshops, analytic simulations, and scenario exercises. Similarly, we benefitted from conference support from Jim Harris, Greg Brown and many others at Centra Technologies and the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the Department of State. Commissioned studies from the Atlantic Council, the Economist Intelligence Unit, Eurasia Group, Institute for the Future, RAND, Stimson Center, and Strategic Business Insights provided current baseline assessments in the key functional areas. Additionally, we are grateful for the many contributions from colleagues, associates, and the public at large to our Tumblr website and to us directly. We thank Dr. Jeffrey Herbst and the Newseum for partnering with the NIC for the public launch of Global Trends: Paradox of Progress.

Finally, we would like to individually recognize and thank for their contributions:

Clement Adibe, Bill Anderson, Anders Agerskov, Mark Bessinger, Richard Betts, Andrew Bishop, Phillip Bobbitt, Hayley Boesky, Hal Brands, Esther Brimmer, Shlomo Brom, Sarah Chayes, Erica Chenoweth, Gregory Chin, Ed Chow, Jack C. Chow, Thomas Christensen, Sean Cleary, Peter Clement, Keith Darden, James Dator, Jacquelyn Deal, Larry Diamond, Karen Donfried, Eric Edelman, Eran Etzion, Nick Evans, Darryl Faber, Mark Fitzpatrick, Jack Goldstone, Lawrence Gostin, Paul Heer, Francis Hoffman, Peter Huybers, Kim Jae-On, Joseph Jaworski, Kerri-Ann Jones, Rebecca Katz, John Kelmelis, Cho Khong, Andrew Krepinevich, David Laitin, Hardin Lang, Doutje Letting, Michael Levi, Marc Levy, Peter Lewis, Edward Luck, Anu Madgavkar, Elizabeth Malone, Thomas Mahnken, Katherine Marshall, Monty Marshall, Wojciech Maliszewski, Jessica Mathews, Michael McElroy, Walter Russell Mead, Suerie Moon, Anne Marie Murphy, Kathleen Newland, John Parachini, Jonathan Paris, Tom Parris, Stewart Patrick, Minxin Pei, Robert Putnam, Ebhrahim Rahbari, Kumar Ramakrishna, Eugene Rumer, Tomas Ries, Paul Salem, Miriam Sapiro, Derek Scissors, Lee Schwartz, Peter Schwartz, Jim Shinn, Anne Marie Slaughter, Constanze Stelzenmüller, Teija Tiilikainen, Avi Tiomkin, Ashley Tellis, Ivan Arreguin-Toft, Andrew Trabulsi, Ben Valentino, Kristel Van Der Eist, Peter Wallensteen, Stephen Watts, Judith Williams, Kevin Young, Amy Zegart, and Suisheng Zhao.