Synopsis of Twenty Forty: a map

Published by Patricia Lustig on

Why would anyone want to make sense of the year 2040?

Because people and organisations can make decisions and prepare now, for the changes they can expect in the next 20 years. It’s an unavoidable (and enticing) fact: the world in 2040 is likely to be radically different from what we see today.

We explore the underlying long term megatrends that are expected to frame the world in 2040. This is a book about the factors – trends – determining our future which are visible now, but not necessarily hitting the media headlines. 

A trend is a way of describing one aspect of possible futures (not forgetting the light any trend sheds on the past, too). We focus on the likely directions of travel those trends may take. Just to be clear: a trend is not a forecast; a forecast is a single point in the future. We take the realistic approach of exploring the direction of travel of a megatrend – noting that both timing and direction can and will span a range of possible futures.

We describe thirteen systemic global trends – what we call megatrends – that are already disrupting organisations and cascading down to individuals. Sometimes it is hard to spot major changes as they unfold around us. But these megatrends (for example Global Warming) are happening now and have effects, both currently and in the longer term. Understanding these megatrends provides people with galvanising insights, giving them the impetus to more confidently make decisions today. As well as detailing the characteristics of the 13 megatrends, we give examples of what these look like, or “feel like”, so readers can immediately identify how their own lives might be affected.

And it’s not all bad news.  In fact: there are a lot of opportunities inherent in the radically different world of 2040.

This set of megatrends has evolved through our work with many organisations over the last few years.  There is good evidence behind these trends. They are based on a range of reputable data sources.  What has surprised – and energised – us is the extent of the opportunities we’ve uncovered during our research.

Why a map? Because, to navigate between today and the future, travellers need a representation of the unfamiliar territory through which they plan to travel.  Maps help to identify decision points and start to build up a mental picture of what is “out there”. More importantly, a map helps to show how it is all connected and indicate the many ways in which the future could be different. 

This is a book to give people who are so troubled by living in a world in crisis that they have become overly pessimistic in their thinking. It is a book which gives a multitude of reasons to be cheerful.


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