National Intelligence Council - Global Trends

National Intelligence Council

Global Trends

For nearly two decades, the National Intelligence Council's Global Trends Report has been shaping strategic conversations within and beyond the U.S. government. In creating the report, the NIC engages expertise from outside government on factors of such as globalization, demography and the environment, producing a forward-looking document to aid policymakers in their long term planning on key issues of worldwide importance.

Since the first Global Trends was released in 1997, the audience for each report has expanded, generating more interest and reaching a broader audience that the one that preceded it.

A new Global Trends report is published every four years following the U.S. presidential election.


The most recent report's subtitle, Paradox of Progress, speaks to the findings the Strategic Futures Group outlines in the 240-page report. As we become increasingly able to cross borders physically and digitally, we are pushing each other away. Technology has improved our quality of life, but reduced the number of jobs available in certain fields. Governments are spending more money than ever, but individuals wield more power than ever before. These are a few of our paradoxes.


Critical to its insight and policy-relevance have been meetings worldwide with a wide range of interlocutors—including government officials, scholars, business people, civil society representatives, and others—in workshops, exchanges, and other events designed to stimulate thinking about possible global trajectories and discontinuities over the next two decades. 

Over 2,500 individuals from various walks of life across 36 countries helped the NIC examine trends—including economics, demography, ecology, energy, health, governance, security, identity, and geopolitics—and understand their implications for peace, security, and prosperity worldwide.  

The NIC crystallizes ideas gleaned from these meetings as well as extensive research in a Global Trends report published every four years, between the U.S. Presidential Election Day and Inauguration Day.

Who Reads Global Trends?

In December 2016, the outgoing and incoming administrations were given Global Trends: Paradox of Progress, the sixth edition in the National Intelligence Council’s (NIC) series aimed at providing a framework for thinking about the future.

This time period affords the incoming or returning President and senior staff  the opportunity to weigh the report’s  judgments and lay the groundwork to address long-range issues of importance to national and global security. 

The report was publicly released Jan. 9, 2017, aiding policymakers, scholars, and others in many countries in better understanding possible trends and discontinuities in the global environment. 

Join the Conversation

As the NIC prepared Global Trends: Paradox of Progress, it consulted a diverse set of voices worldwide—both established and new—to help it question assumptions, identify new issues, and help conceptualize a framework that lays out in a cogent and understandable style the consequential trends and surprises that could occur in the next 20 years.  

But the NIC is committed to keep asking the same questions to see how these trends change over time. You can join in the conversation on the Global Trends tumblr page to help provide more information and context on questions like these:

  • Will power continue to diffuse or concentrate in the future?

  • To what extent will further advances in communications technology transform societies and the relationship between citizens and governments?

  • How will automation and robotics impact human employment and economies? 

  • Which currently unresolved questions or uncertainties regarding society, economy, and politics are likely to be most game-changing through 2035?

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