Seven Global Megatrends Impacting Our Future

Megatrends are trajectories of change with the potential to have a significant and transformative influence. They typically develop over years or decades. In 2012, CSIRO published the Our Future World study, which included its groundbreaking list of global megatrends. While these megatrends have influenced Australian organisations’ long-term strategy and policy goals over the past ten years, a lot has also happened, including the recent events of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukraine crisis, and their effects on international trade. These shifts exposed new dangers and opportunities while having a significant influence on Australian enterprises, communities, and governments.

With the aim of guiding long-term investment, strategic, and policy orientations across government, business, the not-for-profit sector, and the larger Australian community, this new material gives an update on CSIRO’s global megatrends out to 2042. This study examines the changes that have occurred to the preceding megatrends over the past ten years as well as the new trends, impacts, and drivers that have formed during this time, offering insight into how these trends may develop over the next few decades.

The megatrends involve the following;

  1. A push to adapt to climate change in all aspects of living.
  2. Aiming to reach netzero goals.
  3. Promoting healthy lifestyles.
  4. Working to create global stability.
  5. Growing with the new digital world.
  6. Increasing autonomy.
  7. Recognising the human dimension and the way it may impact social drivers.

Adapting to a changing climate

The frequency and magnitude of extreme and unheard-of meteorological events are rising. According to current climate predictions, we are likely to see extreme weather events that go above historical norms, and related climate hazards are projected to increase the total risk of a changing climate for many sectors and geographical areas. In the coming years and decades, many countries will increasingly have to adapt their healthcare systems, vital infrastructure, and habitation patterns to climate change and extreme weather. This megatrend reflects the new operational paradigms that communities and organisations will need to adopt in the face of a changing environment

Leaner, cleaner and greener

There will be increasing demands placed on finite food, water, mineral, and energy resources as the size of the world population keeps expanding and more individuals move from lower to higher income levels. Modern inventions that attempt to accomplish more with less, attain carbon neutrality, stop the loss of biodiversity, and solve the world’s waste problem are being driven by these restrictions at the same time. This megatrend examines the possibilities pointing us in the direction of a more sustainable future as well as the value of science, technology, and innovation in assisting organisations in operating within much more constrained parameters.

The escalating health imperative

The cost of healthcare is still on the rise, and as the world’s population ages and new health problems arise, this trend is certain to get worse (e.g. antimicrobial resistance, future pandemics). The burden of chronic sickness and mental health issues has been made more apparent and acute by the COVID-19 epidemic. However, it has also emphasised the significance of social and economic health determinants. This megatrend draws attention to the opportunity that precision and preventative health offer to improve health outcomes for all Australians.

Geopolitical shifts

Recent geopolitical changes are probably going to have a lasting effect. Democratic nations with modern economies that want to maintain peace and stability have difficulties in light of the Ukraine crisis and continued tensions in the Asia-Pacific region. Due to these events, defence spending in Australia and around the world has reached record levels, and collaboration and cooperation in the areas of security, technology, and defence capabilities have increased. This megatrend examines the effects of impending geopolitical developments on trade, supply chains, supply management, and defence policy.

Diving into digital

Due to the recent rapid adoption of digital and data technologies, many industries and organisations have undergone a digital transformation that would often take years to complete in just a few months. This may be seen in the rise of data-driven businesses, remote work, telehealth, virtual education, and online retail. Although there has been a lot of development, analysts believe that this is just the beginning of the process of digitisation. This megatrend describes the opportunities provided by digital and data technology as well as the upcoming wave of digitalisation for businesses.

Increasingly autonomous

The advancements in software and computers’ capacity to resolve issues and carry out complex activities without direct human direction are astounding. Artificial intelligence (AI) scientific advances and international investments in technology-driven research and development are what are driving this (R&D). Today, nearly every industry sector and policy area across all global regions is embracing AI technology and enhancing its AI skills. This megatrend explores the socio-economic implications of these technological advancements as well as how AI and related science, research, and technology capabilities are enhancing productivity and addressing humanity’s most pressing problems.

Unlocking the human dimension

The impact of human opinions and experiences on upcoming community, commercial, technological, and policy decisions has increased as a result of emerging societal trends. To preserve their faith, consumers are requesting greater transparency from businesses, governments, and scientists, and there are worries about the proliferation of false information. Technology’s brisk rate of change is also prompting new questions about ethical design and application. The social forces impacting future consumer, citizen, and employee behaviours are highlighted by this megatrend.

To read the full report, click here.


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