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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 11, March 16, 2024

Global Transformational Trends | S N Tripathy

Friday 15 March 2024, by S N Tripathy


Over the past two decades, our world has undergone profound changes, driven by a confluence of factors ranging from technological innovations to the rise of social media, climate change awareness, the surge of e-commerce, and the increasing interconnectedness of nations. These transformations have reshaped our daily lives, impacting individuals differently based on geographical location, socioeconomic status, and personal preferences. As we stand at the intersection of these changes, it is crucial to understand their interconnected nature and how they can lay the foundation for future opportunities that can lead us towards a better and more sustainable future.

Thus, in an era marked by rapid technological advancements, demographic shifts, and environmental challenges, understanding and leveraging global trends are crucial for countries seeking sustainable growth and societal wellbeing. This comprehensive analysis explores six transformational trends shaping the future: the Exabyte Economy, Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero Economy, Circular Economy, Bio Growth Economy, and Experience Economy. Additionally, we delve into the factors assessed by the Future Possibilities Index (FPI) to evaluate how countries leverage these trends for their future development.

Future Possibilities Index (FPI):

The Future Possibilities Index (FPI), a flagship global future trends study released by Newsweek Vantage and Horizon Group, comprehensively assesses how 70 countries are positioned to leverage future possibilities. Released on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, the FPI ranks countries based on their potential to harness six global transformational trends: Exabyte Economy, Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero Economy, Circular Economy, Bio Growth Economy, and Experience Economy.

The FPI, as presented in this report, serves as a tool for decision-makers in government and the private sector to prioritize long-term strategies based on economic and social opportunities over the next decade. By assessing which countries have effectively embraced opportunities in the past, the FPI aids in predicting future success. The report emphasizes the importance of governments and companies evaluating the risk of not seizing the opportunities outlined. Failure to act could result in missed chances, allowing other entities to take the lead. Moreover, there is a risk of further disparity between developed and less developed countries, highlighting the need for proactive planning and leapfrogging opportunities.

Global Ranking and Trends:

According to the FPI, the United Kingdom currently leads the global index, signalling its readiness to capitalize on future opportunities. Denmark, the US, the Netherlands, and Germany closely follow. Among large emerging markets, China ranks highest at 19th, followed by Brazil (30th), India (35th), and South Africa (50th). These rankings highlight the varied preparedness of nations to embrace and benefit from the six identified global trends.

The six transformational trends identified by the FPI offer a combined business opportunity estimated at over USD 44 trillion by 2030, representing more than 40% of the global GDP in 2023. These trends include the Exabyte Economy, emphasizing advanced digital technologies; the Wellbeing Economy, focusing on health prevention and wellness; the Net Zero Economy, dedicated to the reduction of carbon emissions; the Circular Economy, centred around recycling and reuse; Bio Growth Economy, emphasizing food and agriculture innovations; and Experience Economy, highlighting the shift towards consuming experiences rather than physical goods.

Digital Inclusion and the Exabyte Economy:

The Exabyte Economy, fueled by advanced digital technologies, presents a significant opportunity for global growth. With two-thirds of the world’s population currently using the internet, connecting the remaining 2.6 billion, predominantly in Africa and South Asia, holds immense potential. The network effect, where the value of the internet increases with more users, underscores the importance of bridging the digital divide. However, infrastructure development and associated costs, estimated at over $425 billion by 2030, require collaborative efforts from governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations.

Circular Economy and Global Leadership:

The Circular Economy, focused on recycling and reuse, sees the United Kingdom leading, closely followed by China and the United States. While countries display collective efforts in embracing the circular economy, clear leaders and laggards have yet to emerge due to the absence of legally binding government policies. Italy, Canada, Colombia, and Mexico stand out for their strong performance in Government Strategy and Policy, indicating potential for further advancements. However, the Middle East & North Africa lag other regions in this trend.

Germany, Japan, and France lead the economy’s growth, showcasing a solid link with patent innovation. Notably, India is the best-performing middle-income country, driven by robust industry strength. Middle-income countries, on average, perform better in the Bio Growth trend than in other transformational trends, leveraging flourishing agricultural sectors for innovation. Despite these advancements, the Middle East & North Africa region needs help keeping pace with this trend.

The United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany lead the Experience Economy, emphasizing the role of cultural sectors and wealthy consumers. Developing the Experience Economy requires talent, creativity, and utilizing natural or cultural assets. China and Brazil also perform well in this trend, showcasing the potential of large developing economies. However, Eastern European & Central Asian countries lag in the Experience Economy, highlighting the need for strategic investments in cultural and creative industries.

The report stresses the importance of countries strategically leveraging global trends, akin to how businesses leverage market trends, to secure long-term success. It outlines the need for governments and companies to identify, invest in, and implement transformational policies to realize growth. The capacity to leverage global trends is crucial, requiring a shift from a risk-based view to a possibility-focused perspective, recognizing global engines for advancing socioeconomic development.


Understanding and capitalizing on globalization trends become imperative for sustainable growth and wellbeing as we navigate the complexities of a rapidly changing world. The Future Possibilities Index provides a roadmap for countries to identify opportunities and address challenges in the six identified trends. Collaboration between nations, businesses, and non-profit organizations is essential for an inclusive and prosperous future for all, ensuring that the benefits of these opportunities reach both the Global North and the Global South. In confronting the intricate web of environmental challenges and undergoing profound global transformations, nature-based solutions (NbS) stand out as a pivotal and multifaceted strategy. The escalating ecological crises that the world grapples with necessitate the adoption of NbS, not merely as an environmental imperative but also as a promising avenue for economic and social advancement.

In an era marked by climate change, biodiversity loss, and resource depletion, the urgency to address these issues has never been more pronounced. Nature-based solutions harness natural ecosystems’ inherent resilience and regenerative capacities to tackle environmental problems sustainably. From afforestation and habitat restoration to green infrastructure development, NbS offers a comprehensive toolkit for mitigating the impacts of human activities on the planet.

Remarkably, embracing NbS goes beyond ecological benefits. It represents a strategic investment in the interconnected realms of economics and society. By integrating nature into the fabric of sustainable development, opportunities arise for job creation, innovation, and the emergence of resilient communities. The economic viability of nature-based solutions extends to sectors such as agriculture, tourism, and urban planning, unlocking new avenues for growth while fostering environmental stewardship.

Furthermore, the social dimension of NbS must be considered. Communities that engage in and benefit from nature-based solutions often experience improved wellbeing, enhanced cultural connections, and a shared responsibility for the environment. The inclusive nature of NbS empowers local populations and strengthens social cohesion, forming the bedrock for a more sustainable and equitable future.

In steering the complexities of our environmental reality, the adoption of nature-based solutions emerges not merely as a choice but as a collective responsibility. Governments, businesses, and individuals must recognize the potential of NbS as a transformative force capable of steering us towards a harmonious coexistence with the natural world. As we stand at the crossroads of environmental challenges and global transformations, embracing nature-based solutions is a pragmatic approach and a declaration of our commitment to a resilient, thriving, and interconnected planet. By leveraging the interconnected nature of these trends, humanity can forge a path towards a more resilient, innovative, and equitable world.

(Author: Prof. S.N. Tripathy, Former Professor of Economics, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune, currently at Berhampur, Odisha)

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