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. If implemented broadly and sustainably, these technology applications have the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life of the vast majority of people living in poverty in these countries. But in practical terms, the nations in the scientifically lagging group will face considerable challenges in implementing any of the five—despite the fact that they place the least demand on S&T capacity. Drivers are scarce and barriers abundant in these countries. Many of the countries with this level of S&T capacity frequently put promoting economic growth and international commerce higher on national agendas than scientifically lagging countries typically do (but still usually much lower than nations in the proficient and advanced groups). Most of them very much need to manage urban migration, create jobs, and expand the middle class. For countries that are to some degree actively exporting products to the global marketplace (e.g., Chile and Mexico), increasing economic competitiveness is a real-istic development goal. Colombia is a clear exception in this regard; its economy is much less involved in international trade than most other nations in this group. The heightened politi- • Genetically modified (GM) crops: Genetically engineered foods with improved nutritional value (e.g., through added vitamins and micronutrients), increased production (e.g., by tailoring crops to local conditions), and reduced pesticide use (e.g., by increasing resistance to pests). We based its assessment on rough qualitative estimates of the size of the market for the application in 2020 and whether or not it raises significant public policy issues. The numbers in parentheses are the number of sectors that the technology can affect, and the designation global (G) or moderated (M) indicates our estimate, based on both the technical foresights and our discussions with RAND regional experts, of whether the application will be diffused globally in 2020 or will be moderated in its diffusion (i.e., restricted by market, business sector, country, or region).