Five global shifts reshaping the world we live in

Revisiting the Megatrends

Almost a decade has passed since the PwC network identified five Megatrends, which we characterised as deep and profound trends, global in scope and long-term in effect, touching everyone on the planet and shaping our world for many years to come. It is now clear that these Megatrends have transformed our world even faster than we predicted. Largely this is due to the interaction between the trends, which has turbocharged both the speed and pervasiveness of change.

While the Megatrends have been unfolding, they have also evolved, and the way they are manifesting today has shifted compared to ten years ago.

We have revisited the Megatrends to understand how they have changed, what future they may create in 2030, and what questions they will present to humanity.

Revisiting The Megatrends

"A decade ago, many people thought there was time to address the Megatrends in a leisurely way. But it has become obvious that is far from true. The Megatrends are coming at the world like a freight train, and they are creating more numerous and more acute crises, year after year. There's unlimited potential if humanity comes together to address the Megatrends, but we must act now."

The Megatrends and their implications

While humanity is trying to figure out ways to reduce carbon emissions, greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere are worsening, global temperatures are rising, and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more severe.

Implications for individuals: 

  • Loss of housing from extreme weather events
  • Increase in cost of living; food, water, energy insecurity/scarcity 
  • More violence related to resource scarcity
  • Healthcare risks from new diseases

Implications for organisations:

  • Business failure unless fundamentally reconfiguring the business and actively managing ecosystems 
  • Resource insecurity/scarcity/cost increase 
  • Supply chain disruption
  • Job creation through investments in climate tech 

Implications for nation states: 

  • Looming financial catastrophe for states most affected
  • Threat to global food security and agricultural exports
  • Mass migration from countries most to least affected 
  • New economic dependencies due to reconfigured value chains

Transformative technology changes how we function in the world and how we understand humanity. It enables huge value creation, but harmful consequences are – and will increasingly be – difficult to mitigate.

Implications for individuals:

  • Significant capacity enhancement allowing people to achieve more with less effort
  • Massive disruption of work (loss of jobs from automation, pressure to upskill to remain relevant)
  • Loss of privacy
  • Increasing disinformation and misinformation
  • Growing mental health issues

Implications for organisations:

  • Competitive differentiation through technology
  • Business failure without digital transformation and faster speed of execution, needing huge technology spend
  • Concentration of power in the hands of a few; failure of small businesses
  • Mismatch between required and available skills
  • Increased cyber risk

Implications for nation states: 

  • Struggle for governments to evolve in line with technology 
  • Creation of new technology-based institutions
  • Pressure for governments to increase regulations to mitigate unintended consequences of technology
  • Changing economic dependencies because of access to critical technologies

The median age in all countries around the globe is increasing*, but at different rates and from a different starting position. This demographic change is causing some countries’ social systems to break down and a lack of workers in critical areas, whereas other countries face skyrocketing un- and under-employment, weakening economies from emigrating citizens, and strain on social safety nets.

Implications for individuals:

  • Unaffordable retirement leading to poverty 
  • Shortage of services, especially essential ones that haven’t had a lot of influx (e.g., construction) or those geared toward the older generation (e.g., home care)  
  • Massive youth unemployment 
  • Extreme poverty

Implications for organisations:

  • Shift in needs and consumption patterns, slow-down of consumption-based sectors
  • Mismatch between available and required skills 
  • Conflicts related to a multi-generational workforce with differing views on work and the world 
  • Lack of relevant skills in the workforce

Implications for nation states:

  • Capacity mismatch across countries 
  • Mass migration from countries with low median age to those with high median age, or unrest 
  • Unwieldy social polarisation between younger/older generations, native-born/immigrants, and different racial/ethnic communities
  • Failing welfare systems and erosion of tax base

Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World Population Prospects 2019

The world is fracturing and becoming multi-nodal as more nation states are competing for influence, with the rest of the world aligning around them and some states acting as destabilisers. Countries are increasingly turning their focus inwards, prioritising their national resilience and localisation.

Implications for individuals:

  • Declining personal safety due to conflicts
  • People’s local concerns becoming more acute
  • Loss of freedoms and transparency in more countries
  • Increase in human rights abuses 

Implications for organisations:

  • Pressure for boycotts and taking a stand on ‘political’ issues 
  • Disruption of global supply chains
  • Difficulty of doing business in a world of conflicting rules and regulations 
  • Pressure for global businesses to be deeply embedded in key countries

Implications for nation states: 

  • Rise in international conflict, insecurity, and migration; multilaterals increasingly struggling
  • Countries and regions destabilised by the rise of sub-national proxies and shadow actors
  • Increasingly parochial political decisions 
  • Pressure to increase defense budgets, cutting other important budgets

Massive pressure – resulting from social and economic polarisation, disruption, demographic change, and eroding trust – leads to greater social unrest. (See the ADAPT framework)

Implications for individuals:

  • Declining ability to afford a decent life 
  • Shrinking upward mobility
  • Difficulty to understand and trust other people
  • Declining personal safety due to unrest

Implications for organisations:

  • Necessity to reconcile divergent requirements of multiple stakeholders
  • Pressure to increase transparency while managing reputational risk
  • Responsibility to take care of all needs of employees
  • Greater need to invest in the creation of trust

Implications for nation states: 

  • Erosion of middle class, mass poverty in certain countries
  • Real risk for social unrest and political instability
  • Continuing devaluation of institutions that will suffer the corrosive effects of corruption
  • Rising scepticism getting in the way of driving meaningful change

The five Megatrends have already and will continue to change the world for many years to come. Each one of them implicates existential questions and has the potential to bring humanity to a tipping point. But it’s the interaction between these Megatrends that makes them particularly hard to deal with. Each Megatrend is exacerbating the social challenges the world faces, and the magnitude of the social challenges makes it difficult for societies to come together and fight the negative effects of climate change, technological disruption, demographic shifts, and a fracturing world.

There is no equivocating: Humanity is in a race against time.

Mega trends

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Aslıhan Dellaloğlu Karacalı

Marketing and Communications, Director, PwC Türkiye

Tel: +90 212 326 6570

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