Expert Forecasts for 2020

• Improve public health. Unless the barriers are addressed, the lack of financial resources; institutional, physical, and human capacity; open markets; and transparent and stable governments will make it very difficult for the countries that could most benefit from these applications to put them to use. The rural economy is not much different from that of scientifically lagging and developing countries: Rapid economic growth is largely confined to urban areas, and rural and urban populations have great disparities in income, as well as health and education. In China in particular, the income gap is widening. Consequently, for both these nations, promoting rural economic development to reduce rural poverty is a much more pressing concern than it is for countries like Poland and Russia—although they still retain a national focus on promoting overall economic growth. Energy can be very costly in some countries in this group. At the same time, public awareness of the negative impacts of pollution and inefficient management of resources is often high. Consequently, citizens in nations at this level of S&T capacity frequently demand cleaner environments and more responsible consumption of natural assets. This can make reducing the use of resources and improving environmental health an important national objective. All the applications that could help reduce the use of resources and improve environmental health would be available to the advanced nations: cheap solar energy, rural wireless communications, GM crops, filters and catalysts, green manufacturing, and hybrid vehicles.