What are megatrends?
When you see a news story about a new app sweeping the world, when the changing weather alters your insurance risk, or when you use your phone to do business in Southeast Asia – you are experiencing the impact of this century’s megatrends.
Megatrends are large, transformative processes with global reach, broad scope, and dramatic impact.
Companies, governments, and individuals use megatrends for long term planning, policy development, and even for making personal decisions.
The term megatrends was popularised by John Naisbitt, who in 1982 identified forces that were transitioning the world from an industrial society to an information society.
These are our six megatrends for the 21st Century:
- Impactful technology
- Accelerating individualisation
- Demographic change
- Rapid urbanisation
- Climate and resource security
- Economic power shift
Short-lived shocks like a pandemic or regional conflicts, while dramatic in nature, are not megatrends. Things like the metaverse, the gender pay gap, or even smart cities are not megatrends – although they may be part of a wider megatrend.
Nor are megatrends aspirational targets, like the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. However, understanding the six megatrends is necessary to achieve the SDGs.
Megatrends are the fundamental forces shaping our world.
Understanding them can also inform long term strategic thinking, helping us to make better decisions for the future, today.
As individuals, megatrends can also help us to make better personal choices about where to live, how to invest, or even what career to pursue.
The six megatrends of the 21st Century are already underway.
This century’s shifting population patterns are the fuel that will power significant economic change.
Two traditional societies must both confront the need to reformulate social norms as their populations change.
The developing economic arrangements will not be a return to last century’s certainties.
Failure to push back against the current trajectory of social media platforms could be dire for democracy.
Demographic time-bombs and super ageing societies – what does it all mean for countries with falling birth rates?
Is it possible to power the world’s energy needs and also reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
By the turn of the century 100 working-age Chinese will have to support as many as 120 elderly Chinese.
Will the blooming of an overwhelmingly youthful society produce a dynamic catalyst for national exuberance and productivity?
Today’s children will be forced to endure the climate change consequences created during their parents’ lifetimes.
When social media companies employ opaque algorithms to capture and keep our attention, what power does the individual have to resist?
What does it mean when a social network’s algorithms favour anonymous groups bearing propaganda and misinformation?
Deforestation is having a significant impact on global biodiversity.
Satellites are already blocking out stars for astronomers, but will the crowded skies lead to more issues?
What are the disadvantages of individual connectivity at scale?
Recent catastrophes could indicate the climate system has crossed a dangerous threshold.
Do harvest season spikes in agricultural income and conflict in rural Africa and Asia present an opportunity to adjust peacekeeping and aid efforts?
We no longer need to rely on the individual capability of people to read plans or imagine the spaces based on the pictures or verbal descriptions.
Around a quarter of Australian adults have used a Buy Now, Pay Later service. What does the industry's increasing influence mean for younger and at-risk consumers?
How should "citizen-sourcing" initiatives be designed, to enable positive interactions and transparency?
What is the quality, rather than the quantity, of the jobs that we wish to tolerate as a society?
ChatGPT’s “evil cousin” WormGPT will allow bad actors to more accurately mimic the real deal in attempts to swindle and deceive people.
The UN's Zero Hunger goal faces challenges in West Papua, where palm oil plantations are erasing Indigenous foodways - could a food sovereignty framework help balance development, culture, and sustainability?