The World in 2030: Nine Megatrends to Watch

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Where will we be in 2030?

I don’t usually play the futurist game — I’m more of a “presentist,” looking at the data we have right now on fast-moving megatrends that shape the world today. But a client asked me to paint a picture of what the big trends tell us about 2030. And I’d say we do have some strong indications of where we could be in 11 years.

The directions we go and choices we make will have enormous impacts on our lives, careers, businesses, and the world. Here are my predictions of how nine important trends will evolve by 2030 — listed in order roughly from nearly certain to very likely to hard to say.

Nine Global Trends on the Horizon

Demographics: There will be about 1 billion more of us, and we will live longer. The world should reach 8.5 billion people by 2030, up from 7.3 billion in 2015. The fastest growing demographic will be the elderly, with the population of people over 65 years old at 1 billion by 2030. Most of those new billion will be in the middle class economically, as the percentage of citizens in dire poverty continues to drop (a rare sustainability win). Even as the middle swells, however, the percentage of all new wealth accruing to the very top of the pyramid will continue to be a major, and destabilizing, issue. That said, the other megatrends, especially climate change, could slow or change the outcomes here.

Urbanization: Two-thirds of us will live in cities. The urbanization of our populations will increase, creating more megacities as well as small- and medium-size metropolises. Countervailing forces will include a rising cost of living in the most desirable cities. The effects will include the need for more big buildings with better management technologies (big data and AI that makes buildings much more efficient), and we will need more food moved in from where we grow it to where we eat it — or rapidly expand urban agriculture.

Transparency: Our world will become even more open — and less private. It’s hard to imagine that the trend to track everything will be going anywhere but in one direction: a radically more open world.

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Comments (5)
Shivani upadhyay
Hi, you have mentioned urbanization as a key trend. What are views post covid era when we are moving to virtual environment?
Bucky Fairfax
How will these trends change with COVID? Considerable.
Ilsun Park
I feel like sand is going to be in very short supply, which could affect electronic supply chains.
Phil Dahlin
A flip side of urbanization is the destabilization of rural areas and the furthering of inequities between urban rich and rural poor.
Annie Thomas
Human-AI collaboration would become the norm.... With the future of urban mobility with ride sharing and autonomous vehicles, people (the educated elites) would be more of freelancers doing virtual / remote crowdsourced jobs that interest them and would spend more time pursuing creative and rejuventing tasks travelling places and making long travel seem normal..