02 September 2022

CSIRO’s Global Megatrends

In 1983, I returned to Syria to continue the UN agricultural monitoring project. For the first two weeks, I worked alongside a scientist from Australia’s CSIRO. By the time I arrived, my new colleague had been valiantly collecting field data for weeks. I say valiantly because equipment and supplies I’d ordered hadn’t arrived, and people I’d trained hadn’t been available (from 2011 blog post, Syria--Bosra, Shahba and Qanawat).

Welcome back. Although I was introduced to the work of CSIRO as a student, years passed before I was fortunate enough to interact with any of its personnel.

CSIRO is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. As its website notes, they solve the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology. Over nearly a century, they’ve been improving the lives of people everywhere with science. They’ve advanced Australia with a range of inventions and innovations that have had significant positive impact on the lives of people around the world.

The CSIRO recently released a report that I thought you might find of interest, Our Future World: Global megatrends impacting the way we live over coming decades.

CSIRO’s 2022 Our Future World update (report cover).
The 60-page report updates its 2012 global megatrends report, guiding long-term investment and strategic and policy directions out to 2042. While the focus is informing Australian organizations, the megatrends are indeed global and thus reach much further.

John Naisbitt (15 Jan 1929–8 Apr 2021) coined the term “megatrend” in his 1982 book,
Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives. A New York Times best seller for two years, the book was published in 57 countries, selling more than 14 million copies.

John Naisbitt’s 1982 best seller, Megatrends (available from multiple sources including Amazon).
Naisbitt defined a megatrend as a general shift in thinking or approach affecting countries, industries and organizations. Expanding on that a bit, CSIRO defines megatrends as trajectories of change that typically unfold over years or decades and have the potential for substantial and transformative impact.

Updated Global Megatrends
The new Our Future World lays out seven global megatrends:

Adapting to a changing climate speaks to the new ways of operating that organizations and communities will need to adapt to in the face of a changing climate.

Leaner, cleaner and greener explores the opportunities pushing us toward a more sustainable horizon and the importance of science, technology and innovation in helping organizations operate within much tighter envelopes.

The escalating health imperative highlights the opportunities provided by preventative health and precision health in supporting better health outcomes for all Australians.

Geopolitical shifts explores the implications of emerging geopolitical shifts relating to science, technology, trade, supply chains and defense strategy.

Diving into digital details the next wave of digitization for organizations and the opportunities enabled by digital and data technologies.

Increasingly autonomous unpacks how artificial intelligence and related science, research and technology are helping to boost productivity and solve humanity’s greatest challenges and the socioeconomic considerations of these developments.

Unlocking the human dimension highlights the social drivers influencing future consumer, citizen and employee behaviors.

Seven megatrends from CSIRO’s Our Future World (graphic from report).
Global Megatrend Topics
Each of the seven global megatrends is addressed in a number of specific areas. For example, Adapting to a changing climate is discussed in eight areas:
* The cost of natural disasters
* Preparing to live in a hotter world
* Health impacts of climate change
* Declining water quantity, quality and availability
* Impact of climate change on critical infrastructure
* Climate-driven mass migration
* Insuring against climate change
* Pressure brewing under the ocean’s surface (responding to the effects of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, ocean warming, recreational vessels, foreign marine species and plastic pollution)

Increasingly autonomous is discussed in nine areas, including:
* Increased research in artificial intelligence
* New possibilities provided by artificial intelligence advances
* Improving computational power and quantum computing
* The ethics of artificial intelligence

Wrap Up
As expected of CSIRO, Our Future World is an impressive document from the choice of megatrends to their treatment.

The CSIRO Chief Executive offered that megatrends help us understand the challenges and opportunities that will shape our future. They also tell us where the most powerful innovation can be found when we see a different future and leverage science to create it. But we have to act and do it together.

Thanks for stopping by.

John Naisbitt: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Naisbitt
CSIRO: www.csiro.au/en/about
Our Future World - Global megatrends impacting the way we live over coming decades: www.csiro.au/en/research/technology-space/data/Our-Future-World
CSIRO news release on Our Future World: www.csiro.au/en/news/news-releases/2022/seven-megatrends-that-will-shape-the-next-20-years

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