European Experts Say Transformation Needed to Meet 2025 World Challenges
27 September 2009
Meeting the challenges of the near future may mean moving towards a new production and consumption model, new rural-urban dynamics, and a new gender and intergenerational balance, according to the European Foresight Expert Group. The group presented the finings of its report, The World in 2025, at a conference in Brussels.
The experts identified principal trends, tensions and transitions while highlighting strategies that may help policy stakeholders make informed decisions. They also say that competition for natural resources and shifts in wealth, industrial production and populations may lead to tensions over natural resources (food, energy, water and minerals), migration and urbanization.
Looking back and looking forward at the same time to try to work out how we get on in the present is a major challenge. Moving towards a new model of socioeconomic development, we need to meet the needs of 8 billion [people] in 2025. And I think if we’re to do that, we need to make a pretty big effort.—José Manuel Silva Rodriguez, head of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Research (DG RTD)
By the year 2025, the group estimates, centers of gravity, wealth and industrial production may shift towards Asia, and the United States and Europe could likewise lose their scientific and technological edge over Asia. India and China could account for approximately 20% of the world’s research and development (R&D)—more than double their current share.
Within 16 years, the world population will reach 8 billion, says the report. Some 97% of world population growth will occur in developing countries, with the European Union accounting for less than 7% of world population.
Increased population may lead to greater scarcity of natural resources and impact the environment, according to the expert group. This can lead to tension and change in production and consumption patterns and shifts in production/consumption patterns and natural resources.
From these demographic and resource challenges, the group sees a new socio-ecological production and consumption model arising. New technologies (renewable energy sources, capture and storage of CO2, nuclear power and hydrogen and fuel cells), as well as changes in social behavior, supported by economic incentives, will contribute to a reduction in energy consumption (better house insulation, replacement of environment-damaging cars with greener options, and increased use of public transport).
Commenting during the presentation of the results, group expert Joao Caraca of the Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian in Portugal said that Europe needed good policy in order to retain its traditionally strong position in developing cutting-edge innovation that was not just based on incremental improvements of existing technology. “You don’t really invent something new that has no market, without some other structure. [...] They need strong public policies.”
The report says while numerous scientific and technological advances will give rise to controversies in society, Europe, with its wealth of various debate and participative governance experiences, is well equipped to manage them and involve civil society in research. Global access to knowledge, though, together with the development of joint global standards and the rapid worldwide diffusion of new technologies will have a great impact on Europe’s future welfare.
Forward-looking approaches help in building shared visions of the future European challenges and evaluating the impacts of alternative policies. A qualitative and participatory method (Foresight) combined with quantitative and operational method (Forecast) allows better long-term policies like the post-2010 European strategy and the European research and innovation policies to develop. Through its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), Socio-economic sciences and humanities theme, the European Union is funding forward-looking activities with around €30 million (US$44 million).
The expert group was launched in 2008 by DG RTD, in collaboration with the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA). Group members included representatives from think tanks, universities, industry, the European Commission and governmental bodies. Meeting five times in 2008 and 2009, the group produced two publications: one collecting the expert individual contributions; and another which highlights the conclusions, called The World in 2025 - Rising Asia and socio-ecological transition.
“Meeting the challenges of the near future may mean moving towards a new production and consumption model, new rural-urban dynamics, and a new gender and intergenerational balance”
Wow - Umm where is the discussion on “a new gender . . . balance”
Packed with usable facts, maybe?
"Within 16 years, the world population will reach 8 billion"
That’s one; I found no others.
Insightful concepts are what it brings ? :
‘ “You don’t really invent something new that has no market, without some other structure. [...] They need strong public policies. ’ ” . - . Wow – you mean like, without higher gas tax or tough CAFÉ or good rebates, or etc. people will drive gas guzzlers in the US ! Why has no one noticed this?
“A qualitative and participatory method (Foresight) combined with quantitative and operational method (Forecast) allows better long-term policies”
I’ll buy that.
"Looking back and looking forward at the same time to try to work out how we get on in the present is a major challenge." They do seem challenged.
“Meeting five times in 2008 and 2009, the group produced two publications: one collecting the expert individual contributions; and another which highlights the conclusions, called The World in 2025 - Rising Asia and socio-ecological transition.”
Maybe if I read one of these – or maybe they are fully summarized here.
Posted by: ToppaTom | 27 September 2009 at 09:12 AM
Something tells me the European taxpayer didn't get his money's worth here.
Posted by: Matthew | 27 September 2009 at 09:31 AM
I am not convinced that: 'significant changes in social behavior' are possible unless they are outright prohibited - unlikely in a 'real' democratic society.
I doubt that very few 'emotionally healthy' people actively pursue pro-pollution or pro-'climate change' behaviors DIRECTLY. They just make poor choices that have a dramatic 'INDIRECT' pollution and climate change outcome. So, since all people are naturally greedy, lazy, and stupid by nature -- you need to reduce the environmental footprint, pollution, and climate change factors behind the scenes - sustainably-electric-supported 'big' vehicles, non-polluting/climate change/recycled materials 'big' housing, and 'small-footprint' luxuries -- all else will muddy the 'good fight' and polarize the debate with mud-slinging 'lifestyle' nonsense. Of course, one has to 'believe' that technology can overcome individual greed to have a net-better world. That is the key. I would say that the vast majority of people who believe that conservation is the single-biggest driver of a sustainable world likely don't believe this -- and so there is the real point of contention.
I know it would be nice to have people openly care about the world and the others that live in it - but that'll never happen. The only solution is to hide people's basic nature behind technology and innovation. And the more people that support the technological approach, the more likely that it'll succeed. The 'ideal' world is where people do what they want (play, work, and consume) with minimal environmental impact - an engineering technologically driven world. A world without scarcity is a world with less fear, anger, and hatred. Let's make it a scientifically advanced world.
Posted by: Jer | 28 September 2009 at 08:38 AM
This report is an utter joke.
By 2050 Europe will be an Islamic Republic with Sharia law. Britain, Holland , France and Germany are well on their way to that transformation.
The left wing politicians with their immigration policies are directly responsible for this change.
The talk about inovation is noise in the background when this change happens.
Posted by: Mannstein | 28 September 2009 at 09:57 AM
I love how everyone just glosses over the 8+ Billion people number.
The Phillipenes are already being crushed by thier overpopulation. Malaysia and southern China are close to the tipping point. By 2025 China and India have to figure out how to feed and water an extra 1 billion mouths. China is in its hayday right now, 16 years from now it could have some very serious problems.
Posted by: JosephT | 28 September 2009 at 10:22 AM
Greenhouses can multiply food production with a lot less water. Adjusting the CO2 level can increase production even more. New varieties of fruit and vegetals are very promissing. Southern Spain, Israel and many others, are doing that successfully, on a very large scale. We could be a lot more selective on the meat we eat to reduce the toal calories needed per habitant. We will learn how to feed 12+ B people.
However, can earth survive for long with all the pollution that 12+ B people can do?
Posted by: HarveyD | 28 September 2009 at 02:23 PM
I agree that technology is the only viable way to provide what the huge majority believe is the "best world".
Those who preach denial and return to the 1800s are the minority (and usually agree that, yes everyone should get 21st century medical care).
But when you say "all people are greedy, lazy and stupid" I suspect you mean everyone but you, and someone (like you) should dictate what auto, what house, what life style those peasants should have.
Welcome to Cuba, the promised land.
Posted by: ToppaTom | 28 September 2009 at 07:19 PM
Dont worry war will take care of the population problem.
Posted by: wintermane2000 | 29 September 2009 at 03:55 AM