The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has a long history of examining risks, opportunities and trends that affect companies’ ability to operate profitably and sustainably.

Even within this seemingly tumultuous decade, aptly named “the turbulent teens” in our Vision 2050, being alive today is a better experience for more of humankind than it would have been at any other time in humanity’s short history on this small blue dot. Nonetheless, it’s also clear the world is going through a period of economic, political, social, and environmental volatility.

As part of an ongoing effort within WBCSD to leverage our science-based approach and targeted business solutions to bring about system transformation in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), our in-house People team has compiled a narrative around four megatrends underscoring some of the key pressures and opportunities that individuals, communities and societies are facing in today’s world.

  1. A world on the move – with significant shifts in the demographics (both young and aging populations), migration between and within countries, shifting centers of economic power from west to east, and the rapid growth of the online world.
  2. A world that is polarizing – where we see large splits between people’s access to human rights and basic needs, incomes within and between nations, political and societal participation, and levels of trust in institutions.
  3. A world that wants to work – where challenges grow in terms of the quantity and quality of work, the nature of work, and the very future of work itself.
  4. A world living beyond its means – not just in terms of environmental impact, but in the financial and social costs of our lifestyles, the impacts that that cost is having on our wellbeing, and the shifts in consumer attitudes that are occurring as a result.

These are the key societal areas that we believe can materially affect companies’ ability to operate, innovate, and grow. We invite you to browse through the document below to learn more about these material risks and opportunities today, tomorrow, and in the years to come.

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For further information and references, please contact Julian Hill-Landolt. Director, Sustainable Lifestyles at

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