March 14, 2014
Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council
Today, as ever, man seeks to comprehend the world more coherently. We aim to identify and better understand the trends shaping society so that we can better anticipate their opportunities and challenges.
For the past 20 years, the mega-trend of globalization has been the central driver of human progress—transforming society, politics, economics, and commerce. While globalization is here to stay, a wider spectrum of trends are in play that will significantly shape life in the years ahead. Offered here are a set of “catalysts” driving change in society and the economy. They are a function of markets, innovation, investment, marketing, planning, and policymaking. In many cases, the factors are inter-connected. In combination they have networked effects. The better we understand these trends and the interplay between them, the better our ability to understand their future implications. We can also better see and seize opportunity, identify and avert obstacles, and prepare for the downsides that inevitably accompany social, economic, or political change.
1. Urbanization: Mankind is flocking to cities—and with them business and opportunity—a phenomenon we are seeing in the United States and across the globe. Today, approximately 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas by 2050 the figure will be 70%. According to McKinsey, “Today, 80% of the 2,200 large companies in emerging economies are spread across almost 100 cities; by 2025, 80% of the 7,000 large companies are likely to be spread across nearly 160 cities.”
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