Future State 2030 identifies nine global megatrends that are most salient to the future of governments. While they are highly interrelated, the megatrends can broadly be grouped into trends reflecting changes in the status and expectations of individuals, changes in the global economy and changes in the physical environment.
Higher life expectancy and falling birth rates are increasing the proportion of elderly people across the world, challenging the solvency of social welfare systems, including pensions and healthcare. Some regions are also facing the challenge of integrating large youth populations into saturated labor markets.
Advances in global education, health and technology have helped empower individuals like never before, leading to increased demands for transparency and participation in government and public decision- making. These changes will continue, and are ushering in a new era in human history in which, by 2022, more people will be middle class than poor.1
Information and communications technology (ICT) has transformed society over the last 30 years. A new wave of technological advances is now creating novel opportunities, while testing governments’ ability to harness their benefits and provide prudent oversight.
The interconnected global economy will see a continued increase in the levels of international trade and capital flows, but unless international conventions can be strengthened, progress and optimum economic benefits may not be realized.
Public debt is expected to operate as a significant constraint on fiscal and policy options through to 2030 and beyond. Governments’ ability to bring debt under control and find new ways of delivering public services will affect their capacity to respond to major social, economic and environmental challenges.
Emerging economies are lifting millions out of poverty while also exerting more influence in the global economy. With a rebalancing of global power, both international institutions and national governments will need a greater focus on maintaining their transparency and inclusiveness.
Rising greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are causing climate change and driving a complex mix of unpredictable changes to the environment while further taxing the resilience of natural and built systems. Achieving the right combination of adaptation and mitigation policies will be difficult for most governments.
The combined pressures of population growth, economic growth and climate change will place increased stress on essential natural resources (including water, food, arable land and energy). These issues will place sustainable resource management at the center of government agendas.
Almost two-thirds of the world’s population will reside in cities by 2030.2 Urbanization is creating significant opportunities for social and economic development and more sustainable living, but is also exerting pressure on infrastructure and resources, particularly energy.
1European Union Institute for Security Studies. 2011. “Citizens in an Interconnected and Polycentric World” (PDF 5 MB)
2 United Nations Population Division. 2012. “World Urbanization Prospects – The 2011 Revision.”