10 Forces Changing the World

Our friends at HOK have published a very interesting and thoughtful collection of articles that examine global trends and forces changing the world.  Looking out over the next 40 years the team collected some very interesting research and information that is worth the read.

We recently took some time to mentally escape from the day-to-day and explore the “Art of the Long View.” Inspired by Peter Schwartz’ book of the same name, we partnered with our friends at Magellan Consulting and researched what we felt were the top 10 forces shaping our world between now and 2050. As we re-imagine the role of the design community in our global economy, this material has served as fodder for some fascinating conversations across HOK.

What did we learn?  Though the dialogue is ongoing, the idea of resiliency has undeniably emerged as a major theme. Resiliency is the not-so-new idea taken from nature that we can withstand the inevitable shocks to the system, rebuild and continue to adapt and evolve into something better. The key is that resiliency doesn’t just happen – we have to plan for it.  

For HOK, this means forming non-traditional partnerships and alliances and exploring how we can help clients use design and systems thinking to creatively solve new types of challenges. Here’s a link to some resources and examples of where this is already taking place.   What do these trends mean for your organization and the projects you undertake? Share your ideas here.

Ten Forces Changing Our World:

Global Demography and the Population Race:  To say that the global landscape is changing is a seismic understatement. The world’s population is projected to reach approximately 9.2 billion people by 2050, with nearly 60 percent of the new growth coming from India, China and Sub-Saharan Africa.  Where will we house our future generations? How will we feed them, educate them, move them from one place to another? Where will we find the resources to sustain them?

Geopolitics and the New Leaders of the Free World:  Meet the new kids on the block – Brazil, Russia, India, and China.  Appropriately referred to as “the BRICs,” these four countries will become the foundational building blocks upon which future world economies and foreign policy initiatives will be constructed. How will the emerging economic and political superpowers of today perform on the geopolitical stage of tomorrow? Will the world achieve a truly open society?

Social Change in the Millennial Generation: The Millennial Generation is the newest population of the global corporate culture with a unique set of values. Will the rest of the world embrace their same ideals, or will social friction be the catalyst for future global crises? How will education change to accommodate for an unprecedented rate of new information being generated each year?

Life on the City Planet:  The Earth has become a “City Planet” with more than 50 percent of the world’s population now living in cities.  What are the key drivers of this change? Can our current urban infrastructure support the nearly 70 million more that migrate to the cities each year?

Finding the Energy to Sustain Humanity:  As a planet, we are addicted to fossil fuels, relying on them for every aspect of modern life. Can we make the alternative energy transition quickly and effectively without sparking global conflict?  What energy sources will help us achieve oil independence?

It’s Not Easy Being Green: As scientists agree that human activities contribute to global warming, how will the environment react to centuries of abuse? Some say it’s too late to mitigate the effects of the impending climate change on global resources.  Is it possible to achieve a truly sustainable environment?

When the World Runs Out of Water: As populations surge and global warming heats up the planet, future generations will face an impending shortage of natural resources critical. How can we maintain our fresh water and food supplies when more cultures are adopting Westernized consumption patterns?

Limitless Possibilities of Technology:  BANG technologies (Bits, Atoms, Neurons, Genes) promises a future steeped in both unprecedented scientific advancements and looming ethical dilemmas.  What are the ramifications of having every moment of your life stored on a microchip?

Forging Into the Unknown – New Frontiers:  In less than 15 years, scientists predict that human beings will have the technology and resources to successfully inhabit the moon.  How will our future generations approach the discovery and understanding of new frontiers? Can they learn from our mistakes?

Runaway Corporate Growth – the Mega Multi-Nationals: As technology and geopolitics align to create more global opportunities for mega multi-national companies, how can we ensure corporate equity and fair market competition?

Thanks to our friends at HOK for taking the time to develop this project.


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