“An important example of using scientific methods and collective intelligence to help us understand and act better for the future.”
— Phil Mjwara, Director General, Ministry of Science & Technology, South Africa
— Jim Spohrer, Director, Cognitive Opentech Group, IBM
“A high level, reliable intellectual compass for the conflict ridden, and uncertain world advancing toward the mid-century.”
— Mihály Simai, former Chairman, United Nations University
“The indispensable guide for futurists and aspiring global citizens everywhere.”
— Hazel Henderson, Futurist, author, CEO, Ethical Markets Media
“Without this kind of guidance, many people would lose their way and get lost in their decision making process.”
— Julio Millan, President, Azteca Corporation, Mexico
“The State of the Future has proved useful for better addressing our resilience objectives.”
— Lina Liakou, Thessaloniki Vice Mayor and Chief Resilience Officer
“Great source of inspiration and focus to our organizations.”
— Michael Bodekaer, CEO, Learn-Technologies
Today’s information overloaded world needs coherence, frameworks, and context to get a sense of the big picture of how we are doing and foreseeable prospects. Taken together, the very short overviews of the 15 Global Challenges offer a systemic framework for understanding global change.
A complete description of the global situation, prospects for the future, and strategies to achieve the best possible future is—of course—impossible, but enough is presented in the State of the Future to improve the readers’ global foresight. Far greater information and intelligence is available in the Global Futures Intelligence System at www.themp.org, where the subscriber can also participate in updating and improving this collective intelligence system on the future of the world.
The State of the Future Version 19.0 brings together an extraordinarily diverse set of data, information, intelligence, and, we hope, some wisdom about the future. This is the nineteenth edition of the State of the Future. We believe that each edition is better than the previous one. We update data, improve insights, and respond to feedback. Over the years, the short overviews in each State of the Future report kept getting longer, and they became too long to say they are “short.” In this edition, they are shorter. We hope you like them. The longer “Short Overviews” with regional considerations will still be available free online and updated regularly in the GFIS, which is also available on your mobile phone, for just-in-time information.
Since humanity lives in different conditions around the world, not all of the actions suggested to address the Global Challenges are appropriate in all situations; think of them as a menu of options and a source of stimulation to develop more appropriate strategies to your unique situation. The suggested actions are drawn from feedback on previous State of the Future reports, Millennium Project Delphi studies, and GFIS’s news feeds, scanning items, situation updates, and peer reviewers’ comments.
This is the third time we have used the online GFIS to update and improve the State of the Future report. The challenges in GFIS are updated regularly from news aggregations, scanning items, situation charts, and other resources, which has led to greater detail and depth than in the previous edition. While this report presents the distilled results of recent research by The Millennium Project, GFIS contains the detailed background and data for that research, plus all of The Millennium Project’s research since its founding in 1996. It also contains the largest internationally peer-reviewed set of methods to explore future possibilities ever assembled in one source. Readers of this report are encouraged to subscribe to GFIS to keep up to date and to participate in improving insights about future possibilities.
The purpose of futures research is to systematically explore, create, and test both possible and desirable futures in order to improve decisions. Just as the person on top of the mast on old sailing ships used to point out the rocks and safe channels to the captain below for the smooth running of the ship through uncharted waters, so too can futurists with foresight systems point out problems and opportunities to leaders and the public around the world. Since decisionmaking is increasingly affected by globalization, global futures research is increasingly needed for decisionmaking by individuals, groups, and institutions. The quality of democracies emerging around the world depends on the quality of information received by the public. The issues and opportunities addressed in this report can contribute to better-informed decisionmaking.
This report is for thought leaders, decisionmakers, and all those who care about the world and its future. Readers will learn how their interests fit into the global situation and how the global situation may affect them and their interests. The State of the Future and GFIS provide an additional eye on global change. These are information utilities that you can draw from as relevant to your unique needs. They provide an overview of the global strategic landscape. Business executives use the research as input to their strategic planning. University professors, futurists, and other consultants find this information useful in teaching and research.
The Millennium Project is a voluntary global participatory think tank of futurists, scholars, scientists, business planners, and policymakers who work for international organizations, governments, corporations, NGOs, and universities and who volunteer their time to improve each edition of the State of the Future. It was selected to be among the top think tanks in the world for new ideas and paradigms as well as for best quality assurance and integrity policies and procedures by the 2013-2016 University of Pennsylvania’s GoTo Think Tank Index and as a 2012 Computerworld Honors Laureate for its innovations in collective intelligence systems.
The purposes of The Millennium Project are to assist in organizing futures research, improve thinking about the future, and make that thinking available through a variety of media for consideration in policymaking, advanced training, public education, and feedback, ideally in order to accumulate wisdom about potential futures. The Project’s diversity of opinions and global views is ensured by its 63 Nodes around the world. These are groups of individuals and organizations that interconnect global and local perspectives. They identify participants, conduct interviews, translate and distribute questionnaires, and conduct research and conferences. It is through their contributions that the world picture of this report and indeed all of The Millennium Project’s work emerges.
Through its research, publications, addresses at conferences, and Nodes, The Millennium Project helps to nurture an international collaborative spirit of free inquiry and feedback for increasing collective intelligence to improve social, technical, and environmental viability for human development. Feedback on any sections of the book is most welcome at <Jerome.Glenn@Millennium-Project.org> and may help shape the next State of the Future, GFIS, and the general work of The Millennium Project.
Jerome C. Glenn, Executive Director
Elizabeth Florescu, Director of Research
The Millennium Project Team — Staff , 63 Nodes, Reviewers