On the 14th of January this year, Thomas Frey published an article on big global challenges that face us (and our children). Here is a summary with some added thoughts…

Hindsight is 20-20, but future predictions are always challenging. Here is a prediction that was made back in 1930 by F.E. Smith, a British politician and contemporary of Winston Churchill. He spoke about how he saw the year 2030.

In some ways his thoughts about 2030 appear to be on the right track – for example, regarding the prevalence of synthetic meat. In others he was perhaps further off, saying, for example, that future wars would be fought primarily by unmanned tanks and that life expectancy would be increased to an average of 150 years. Perhaps.

This raises the challenges futurists face as well as our approach to predicting the future. Is the future an extrapolation of current trends, as evidenced by Smith’s predictions, or will our future be fortunate enough to benefit from technological breakthroughs and entirely new paradigms? In other words, are we just going to get better at the things we already do, or are we going to produce entirely new and better things?

So how can we improve our future?

FutureProofMe is a creative, modern thinking platform with forward thinking individuals. Part of the FutureProofMe programme is to initiate critical and creative thinking and to quiz our students on where they see global, country, community and industry challenges and what they would like to do to solve them. Now and in the near future.

On a much bigger scale, a group of bright minds formed the Millennium Project back in 1996 to look at our biggest global matters and they came up with 15 of them:

  1. World population is growing – food, water, education, housing, and medical care must grow rapidly to keep up.
  2. Fresh water is becoming scarce in localized areas of the world.
  3. The gap in living standards between the rich and poor promises to become more extreme and divisive.
  4. The threat of new and re-emerging diseases and immune micro-organisms is growing.
  5. Capacity to decide is diminishing (as issues become more global and complex under conditions of increasing uncertainty and risk).
  6. Terrorism is increasingly destructive, proliferating, and difficult to prevent.
  7. Population growth and economic growth are interacting adversely with environmental quality and natural resources.
  8. The status of women is changing.
  9. Religious, ethnic, and racial conflicts are increasingly severe.
  10. Information technology offers both promise and peril.
  11. Organized crime groups are becoming sophisticated global enterprises.
  12. Economic growth is bringing both promising and threatening consequences.
  13. Nuclear power plants around the world are aging.
  14. The HIV epidemic will continue to spread.
  15. Work, unemployment, leisure, and underemployment are changing.

Back in 1996 the Internet was just getting started, with only 100,000 crude websites, the world population reached 4,4 billion (today it’s 7,8 billion with a daily increase of 220,000 people), eBay became one of the early dot com success stories, an outbreak of “mad cow” disease had the world on edge, Fox News Channel made its debut, Bill Clinton was re-elected  as US President, Nelson Mandela divorced Winnie, Pokemon made its first appearance and became an instant hit, Amazon was 2 years old, Mark Zuckerberg was 8 years old, and Google didn’t exist yet.

It therefore makes sense why a list like this needs updating!

Fast forward to the year 2020 and here is the updated version in the form of questions…

  1. How can sustainable development be achieved for all while addressing global climate change?
  2. How can everyone have sufficient clean water without conflict?
  3. How can population growth and resources be brought into balance?
  4. How can genuine democracy emerge from authoritarian regimes?
  5. How can decision-making be enhanced by integrating improved global foresight during unprecedented accelerating change?
  6. How can the global convergence of information and communications technologies work for everyone?
  7. How can ethical market economies be encouraged to help reduce the gap between rich and poor?
  8. How can the threat of new and re-emerging diseases and immune micro-organisms be reduced?
  9. How can education make humanity more intelligent, knowledgeable, and wise enough to address its global challenges?
  10. How can shared values and new security strategies reduce ethnic conflicts, terrorism, and the use of weapons of mass destruction?
  11. How can the changing status of women help improve the human condition?
  12. How can transnational organized crime networks be stopped from becoming more powerful and sophisticated global enterprises?
  13. How can growing energy demands be met safely and efficiently?
  14. How can scientific and technological breakthroughs be accelerated to improve the human condition?
  15. How can ethical considerations become more routinely incorporated into global decisions?

Keep in mind, each of the Global Challenges are transnational in nature and will require a trans institutional solution. Because of this, they cannot be addressed by a single government, or a single institution acting on its own.

Each of the Global Challenges will require a group effort, formed around collaborative actions between governments, international organizations, corporations, universities, NGOs, and creative individuals.

FutureProofMe and its stakeholders support this thinking and through its Tri-Smart process becomes part of the group effort by unpacking problems, creating solutions and building stronger personal balance sheets for its students – forging out new “mini economies”.

We want a “better future” than the one we’re currently living through.

Every time the Millennium Project Team publishes their “State of the Future” report, it serves as an overview of our present global situation and helps establish priorities.

It gives us something to focus our attention on. It gives us a reason to form relationships, join forces and combine efforts because these are massive problems requiring massive solutions.

For this reason, we need to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work needed to change the trajectory of these important worldwide challenges.

See Stephen’s full report here…