Expert Forecasts for 2020

Countries’ Capacity to Achieve Science and Technology Goals Because national concerns tend to differ in these ways between countries with various levels of S&T capacity, particular sets of technology applications will be much more important, and their impacts much more dramatic, for certain nations than for others. But if a country were to establish a certain goal as a top priority in 2020 and resolve to address it, how capable would it be of actually implementing the applications that would enable it to do so? We looked at the scientifically lagging, developing, proficient, and advanced nations in our sample and for each one answered that question for the objectives likely to be relevant to countries at its level of S&T capacity. As in the lagging countries, cheap solar energy and rural wireless communications could help scientifically developing nations promote economic growth and international commerce. For any of the national objectives that they choose to prioritize, all the scientifically advanced countries will be highly capable of implementing the full set of relevant technology applications. With abundant drivers, relatively few barriers, and unrivaled S&T ability, these advanced countries are the only ones among our sample likely to be able to implement, on a broad scale, the applications that demand the highest level of infrastructure and institutional, physical, and human capacity. The nations in the scientifically lagging group are able to obtain only five of the top 16 applications. Cameroon, Chad, and Kenya in Africa; the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean; Georgia in Europe; Fiji in Oceania; Egypt, Iran, and Jordan in North Africa and the Middle East; and Nepal and Pakistan in Asia will be the least capable of implementing these applications through 2020. With low levels of S&T capacity, these countries will also face numerous barriers and will benefit from very few drivers. It will therefore be very difficult for these countries to implement any but the simplest technology applications. 1 Institutional capacity includes honest and effective systems of governance, banking and finance, law, education, and health. Human capacity entails the quality and quantity of a country’s educated and skilled personnel, as well as the level of education and scientific literacy of its people. Physical capacity involves the quality and quantity of critical infrastructures e.g., transport and freight networks, schools, hospitals, research facilities, and utilities.