This section of the Global Trends report provides snapshots of key trends and uncertainties over the next five years in seven regions of the world: Latin America and the Caribbean; Sub-Saharan Africa; Europe; Russia and Eurasia; the Middle East; East and South Asia. The structural drivers underlying the broader forecast in the overall Global Trends report—demographic and human development challenges; economic strains; technology shifts; and climate change and environmental degradation—are all already shaping these regions. How societies and governments respond in the near term will influence the longer term dynamics emerging from these drivers. The COVID-19 pandemic has inserted greater uncertainty and volatility into these short-term forecasts.

Even before COVID-19, most regions faced economic slowdowns and rising domestic political turmoil—trends almost certain to accelerate during the next five years, as governments struggle to meet increasing public demands and recover from the pandemic’s economic shock. Also, across much of the globe, non-traditional security challenges, particularly from extreme weather and technological disruptions, are becoming more acute, and states must contend with a growing number of actors that can influence outcomes within their borders—whether other states, private companies, terrorist and insurgent groups, or NGOs. Great power competition is increasingly affecting many regions, and most countries are trying to avoid picking sides, instead looking to reap benefits from multiple partners.

These assessments also highlight some potential opportunities for improvement in each region. These potential “green shoots” include the increasing agency and influence of African and East Asian countries in international affairs; a vibrant tech sector in the Middle East driven by Israel and potential Arab partners; and potentially significant economic reforms in Brazil and constitutional reforms in Chile. As the pandemic has demonstrated, it is often a country or region’s less tangible characteristics—such as history, leadership, innovation, and social trust—that combine with tangible features such as wealth, military power, and infrastructure to determine its ability to adapt to structural changes or shocks to the system.