The next few years will bring more change to many industries and our lifestyles than has ever been witnessed in such a short time before. No one will be immune. Read on to discover a selection of what’s already coming down the pike, consider how your role and your organizations’ might change and the part you want to play in creating a better future.

Start year: Ongoing
Likely Tipping point: 2035
Likely End year: 2100
Likely Impact $: Trillions
Likelihood: 90%
Regions affected: Global
Most affected sectors: Food, Transport, Construction, Manufacturing, Clothing, Emergency services, Technology, Finance, City halls, Government, Healthcare

What is changing?


  • By 2050, the world’s urban population will have increased by some 72%.
  • By 2050 the population of Asia is expected to be 5.2 billion people accounting for roughly half the world’s 10-11 billion population at the time.
  • Increasingly a disproportionate number of Africans will make up the global working age population.
  • While much attention is focused on China’s emerging middle class, consumers in upper middle class and affluent households will have the most impact over the next four years.


  • By 2030, the world is projected to have 41 mega-cities with more than 10 million inhabitants each.
  • By 2025, more than 70% of Africa’s population is expected to be living incities.
  • By 2025, out of the top 600 cities in the world in economic terms, more than one hundred will be in China.
  • China will contain eight cities of at least 10 million people in the coming decade.
  • China is expected to add close to 300 million more urbanites by 2030.
  • Europe has now the opportunity to leverage the smart city as a platform for digital transformation of the economy and the society.


  • Logistics service providers offering efficient and effective services on the emerging transport corridors will serve as an enabler for intensified trade between Asia and Europe.
  • Europe’s transformational agenda for the digital age will see the convergence of Mega Trends across all industries – from green energy to e-health, from smart mobility to sustainable manufacturing and connected industry.
  • Electricity generation will become a new small business.
  • Facebook’s aggressive move into publishing will disrupt many marketing plans and jeopardize the traditional inbound marketing model.
  • Nearly 60% of EU internet users now shop online and in ten years’ time 20-25% of all retail spend is expected to be generated online.
  • European manufacturing will undergo structural transformations towards sustainable competitiveness.
  • 40% of existing jobs worldwide will be lost by 2020 but many new ones will be created in the high-growth industries.

Climate change

  • Human-induced climate change will increase storm intensity by between 2 percent and 11 percent by the end of the century.
  • An increase of global temperatures of 4°C to 6°C by the end of the century could increase the annual area burned by a factor of two to five.


  • More change will result from advances in technology in the next five yearsthan has occurred over the past 50 years.
  • By the end of 2017, 60% of the top 1,000 enterprises in the Asia Pacific will have digital transformation as their core business strategy.
  • By 2022, one in every 10 people will be wearing clothes connected to the internet.
  • Cash-rich enterprise software companies like Oracle and Microsoft will start to buy up many of the cash-poor data companies.
  • Technology will enable virtual versus physical business and operating models.
  • IoT will grow to become a $1.7 trillion market by 2020.
  • Machine learning technologies will make it possible to discover unknown signals.
  • Platforms such as big data, analytics and mobility are expected to become the pillars of smart building evolution in terms of technology, business value and customer satisfaction.
  • Information stored in the cloud will shoot up to 40 per cent by 2020.
  • Industry 4.0 – 3/4D and additive printing, robots, a circular and sharing economy, reshoring  and the IoT will change manufacturing forever.


  • Shared transportation, driverless cars and disruptive technology-related solutions will generate new competition.
  • The global production of battery EVs will grow from 273,000 in 2015 to 1.3 million in 2022.
  • The rise of high-speed rail and people’s increasing expectations of airport facilities mean the world will need fewer mega-hub airports.
  • Many more mega-growth players will emerge in sectors such as driverless cars.
  • Drones will increasingly do many delivery, security and measurement jobs.
  • Hydro, wind and geothermal energy could see Africa leapfrogging other continents by developing thousands of small-scale “virtual power stations” that distribute electricity via mini-grids and would not require transmission lines.
  • Researchers predict underwater cities, personal drones and mega-skyscrapers all by the year 2116.
  • The megatrends of digital transformation, globalization, urbanization, demographic change and climate change will provide growth opportunities.
  • Mankind will need to get much better at recycling agricultural inputs and growing food more efficiently.
  • Three concepts of urbanization will emerge megacities, mega regions and mega corridors.
  • Greater information flows will enable more people to become aware of opportunities for work both nearby and in distant places.
  • Some of today’s large global managers will become mega-managers.


cities·  population · energy · technologies · digital transformation · climate change
Athena’s forecast (robot generated from verbatim forecasts)

Learn more

What future opportunities and risks could arise for your organization from advances in ‘Megatrends’? Develop your answer and response here.

Find more sources and resources on Shaping Tomorrow , some of which were used in this Trend Alert, or ask us for our ready-made and free, in-depth PowerPoint report or more detailedGIST briefing on this or any other topic of interest to you.

Also, click here to find out how Shaping Tomorrow can help your organization rapidly assess and respond to these and other key issues affecting your business.
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