Anticipating "Disruptive Change" For Asia, 2030

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Brian L. Job, University of British Columbia
Prepared for Policy Horizons Canada on August 2014

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The geostrategic landscape of Asia is in flux, shaped by fundamental demographic, economic, social, and environmental “megatrends.” For the mid-term future, i.e., to 2030, trajectories of these trends are charted and their anticipated effects increasingly inform the planning of national security analysts.2 Less appreciated, however, are the prospects of non-linear, discontinuous shifts — so-called “disruptive changes” — which would substantially upset the parameters of the political/security regional order.

This brief looks to provoke consideration of disruptive changes that could directly or indirectly trigger strategic and military upheaval at national, transnational, and regional levels. For these purposes, the “security footprint” of Asia must be interpreted broadly, reflecting the impact of developments in South, Southwest, and Central Asia on the traditionally defined region of East and Southeast Asia, as well as the extension of the maritime dimension to the Indo-Pacific. As well, the definition of “security” must encompass both traditional and non-traditional dimensions. Increasingly, the lives of Asia’s peoples and the equanimity of their societies are determined by the latter, rather than the former.


1 The author thanks several colleagues who provided advice and feedback. The views expressed are the author’s and do not reflect those of any institution. For correspondence:

2 The primary example is the CIA’s National Intelligence Committee’s, Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, 2012.