The Future of Asia: Forces of Change and Potential Surprises - Supplementary Report

Authors: Policy Horizons Canada, Strategy and Delivery Division of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australia
Document Type: Foresight Study
Published Date: Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 12:00am
ISBN number: PH4-148/1-2014E-PDF , 978-1-100-24188-3

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Background to this Report

This supplementary report provides more detailed information on the issues raised in The Future of Asia: Forces of Change and Potential Surprises foresight report. The report was jointly written by Policy Horizons Canada and the Strategy and Delivery Division, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australia.

Economic Systems

Asian countries are experimenting with their own paths to prosperity. There is an early sense that a shift is underway from a GDP-centric model to more inclusive growth model.

Social systems

Asia’s economic growth has lifted millions out of extreme poverty. However, the litmus test for Asian governments will be how they manage the growing expectations of a rising middle class, social inequality and shifts in demographic structures. As Asia’s economies grow, it should be accompanied by a flourishing of Asian culture.


Building on the region’s existing strength, governments in Asia, as well as foreign private investors, are  increasingly supporting the research and development of emerging technologies in Asia. While most Asian countries are primarily adopting existing technologies from the West, in 15 years, they may be the leaders in some fields.

Energy and Environment Systems

The rapid pace of economic development is taking its toll on the natural environment, with parched rivers, smog-filled skies and algae-infested beaches. Governments are ready to take dramatic steps and are open to using innovative technologies and policy measures, from economic instruments to drastic bans on particular activities.

Security Systems

Asia’s re-emergence to date has been peaceful. However, to maintain its regional growth, Asia will need to face potential disruptions that could come both from historically rooted disputes and threats as well as emerging new technologies. Asia is also emerging as one of the world’s centres for weapons manufacturing.

Governance Systems

Changes are underway to make Asian governance institutions more efficient, open and transparent. Such changes could be difficult to implement due to vested interests. However, if these measures succeed, they could increase the economic competitiveness of the region. Observers may be surprised by the extent to which established institutions are willing to accommodate rising demands in order to maintain their legitimacy