Megatrends

World in 2050 focuses on five key research clusters. Each of these megatrends represents fields of worldwide pivot points for megachange. How can your contribution direct us toward a better world in 2050?

Exponential technologies radically reshaping the world.

The world is increasingly tech-driven and exponential technologies touch on every aspect of our lives from infrastructure to finance and entertainment. While these advances are powerful force multipliers in understanding and changing our world for the better, there are equally powerful concerns over privacy, safety, security, and equality of access.

Sub-trends:
● Data ownership and Privacy
● Blockchain and Cryptocurrency
● AI, Quantum, and Machine Learning
● Equality of Access and Just Usage
● Digitization of Personal Finance

Disruption from climate change, energy transition is only beginning.

Now that we have strong consensus that climate change is real, the energy transition is underway and ESG investments are surging. Yet energy market volatility during and after the pandemic—and the current energy supply crisis—show us the energy transition will be tricky. Increasing extreme weather, climate impacts, and climate migration underscore the need to get this right, right now.

Sub-trends:
● Green vs. Traditional Infrastructure
● Clean Tech Innovation & Investment
● Corporate, National Targets & Accountability
● Energy Transition & Development, Access
● Adapting to, Mitigating Climate Impacts

The workplace cares less about education, more about skills.

Traditional ways of thinking about education, skills, and work have been falling out of favor for years. These situations intensified with the pandemic as students lost a year or more of in-person education, remote work became the norm, and hundreds of thousands of workers left their jobs to reskill and seek better employment—creating a worker shortage that has completely unsettled our assumptions about the labor market. There also remain questions over how we can recognize and quantify skills, and whether marginalized segments of the workforce will be able to take advantage of this shift.

Sub-trends:
● The Skills & Knowledge Economy
● The Great Resignation
● All-remote or Hybrid Workforce
● Global Skills Gaps

Societal distrust, fragmentation are surging.

In recent years, we’ve achieved important progress toward gender, ethnic, and LGBTQ+ equity around much of the world, but that progress is under threat. Misinformation and populist sentiment are fragmenting our societies by undermining our trust in one another and our institutions. As trust decreases in one another, our leaders, and our experts, marginalized groups stand to lose more than anybody.

Sub-trends
● Misinformation, Disinformation, and Fake News
● Distrust and Social Fragmentation
● Tribalism, Echo Chambers, and Social Exclusion
● Gender, Ethnic, and LGBTQ+ Rights
● Anti-intellectualism and Institutional Distrust

Democratic, governance institutions under pressure.

Growing distrust and fear for the future are fueling populist sentiment. These political tensions threaten to undermine our democracies, while state participation in international institutions is flagging—weakening governance at the domestic and international level. The private sector has increasingly adopted governance functions, but robust public sector governance will be required to meet the future’s existential challenges.

Sub-trends
● The weakening of democracy and the Rule of Law
● Weakening Alliances, Institutions, and International Rights Regimes
● Rising inequality, within and across countries
● North-South divide and differing needs in response to global challenges
● Corporate governance, both public and private

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