The World in 2025 - Rising Asia

I am indebted to the European Commission, Directorate-General for Research Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities for allowing me to reproduce extracts from their report 'The World in 2025 - Rising Asia and Socio-Ecological Transition'.

In my work to better understand global knowledge management trends, current performance, and future scenarios, I find the research work from the World Bank, United Nations, Asian Development Bank, NASA, and the European Commission most informing.

Here are, from a global knowledge management perspective, some extracts that particularly resonate with me from this European Commission Report, 2009, ISBN 978-92-79-12485-3.


The Asian Century

In 2025, nearly two thirds of the world population will live in Asia.

According to the UN, between now and 2025, the world population will increase by 20% to reach 8 billion inhabitants (6.5 today). 97% of this growth will occur in the developing countries (Asia, Africa).

In 2025, 61% of the world population will be in Asia.

In 2025, the population of the European Union will only account for 6.5% of the world population.

The European Union will count the highest proportion of people of more than 65 years old in the world (30% of the population).

The cities in developing countries will account for 95% of urban growth in the next twenty years and will shelter almost 4 billion inhabitants in 2025. The number of inhabitants of slums at world level will double between now and 2025 to reach more than 1.5 billion.

Asia, with increasing inequalities, becomes the first producer and exporter of the world

In 2025 world production will almost have doubled (in relation to 2005). The USA-EU-Japan triad will no longer dominate the world, even if the United States preserve their leadership. A more balanced distribution will take shape. The emerging and developing countries which accounted for 20% of the world's wealth in 2005 will account for 34% of it in 2025.

The centre of gravity of world production will move towards Asia. The group made up of China-India-Korea will weigh as much as the European Union. With the addition of Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia..., the share of Asia would in 2025 reach more than 30% of the world GDP and would surpass that of the EU, estimated to be at slightly more than 20%.

In 2030 the "global middle class" (with an income between 4000 and 17 000 dollars a year) could account for 1 billion people, of which 90% will be living in developing countries.

(In 2025)The positions of Asia and the European Union are reversed. The EU is no longer the first world exporter. The exports of the EU (39% of the world volume in 2005) could account for 32% while the share of Asia increases from 29% to 35%.

In an increasing knowledge society,a question remains on the growth of intangible assets (like human capital or use of ICT) and the share of these investments among the EU, US and Asia.

Asia catches up with (and overtakes?) the United States and Europe in the area of research

If the recent trend continues, in 2025, the United States and Europe will have lost their scientific and technological supremacy for the benefit of Asia. (China and India will have caught up with or even overtaken the Triad) even if they will still appear among the principal world powers as regards R&D.

In many crucial areas to Europe's future welfare, such as energy saving technologies, research on sustainable development and climate change, health and the spreading of diseases, food safety, security, social sciences and humanities, etc., it is the global access to such knowledge, the development of joint global standards and the rapid world-wide diffusion of such new technologies which is at stake. Ensuring access to knowledge in global networks also means being attractive for researchers and investment from abroad. can imagine that we will move from today's "brain drain" (mainly towards United States and the Anglo Saxon countries) to a more balanced "brain circulation" of young researchers between regions of the world.

Asia will be the main destination for the location of business R&D.


I simply love 'from brain drain to brain circulation' as this paints such a healthy picture for our collective planetary brains, and I am already seeing this brain drain reversal taking place in my work travels in Asia.

I may be over simplifying but I think we are slowly getting it - it's not just about competing for knowledge in a predominantly private and state capitalist society, as this will not produce the best results for the good of all, but its about a new order of global knowledge economics that better recognises and values the highly interconnected and collaborative knowledge society that has already emerged.

What do you think about these EU report extracts?

I recommend that you get the full report which discusses trends, tensions, and major transitions, all very interesting indeed.It's available as a free pdf at

The World in 2025 - Rising Asia and Socio-Ecological Transition

Ron Young

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