A ten week internship on global megatrends and their interdependencies can only be the first step.
Over the past ten weeks I’ve had the opportunity to be part of the FutureChallenges team. I’ve nearly finished my Bachelor’s thesis in political science and my internship gave me the welcome chance to turn my back on the stuffy library and breathe the fresh air of practical work experience.
A ten week internship for me was ten weeks’ time in which to explore and become acquainted with megatrends and their interdependencies and compile my research findings as a collection of slides.
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It soon became apparent that it wasn’t just the enormous scope of the field to be covered but also its sheer complexity that presented a challenge. Climate change is a very good example of this: the major challenge that we are facing with climate change hasn’t “only” got to do with the rise in average temperatures and sea levels and the associated loss of diversity in plants and animals. The whole thing has much deeper, more far ranging consequences. Natural disasters which are becoming more frequent as the climate changes are claiming ever more lives. Many people die while many others labor under such difficult circumstances that they are increasingly forced to emigrate. Most of these environmental refugees will emigrate to Europe and the USA which means that these countries will have to learn to develop new political strategies to deal with this wave of refugees. At the same time, aided and abetted by the forces of globalization, climate change is facilitating the spread of diseases. It also has a marked impact on children’s education when their schools are destroyed by its follow-on effects. Furthermore, rising sea levels, a higher incidence of natural disasters, damage to the ecosystem and the vexed question of how to put a stop to global warming all significantly fuel the potential for conflict on the regional, national and international level. Yet without a global strategy to combat climate change the chances of success are simply non-existent. And all this time the relentless march of globalization and the rising world population are leading to ever higher CO2 emissions and quickening the pace of climate change.
I think it should be clear from this one example that what we are dealing with here is a huge web of linkages and dynamic forces that can be endlessly developed and extended.
So apart from the actual content of my slides, another issue soon came to preoccupy me: how to give such a dauntingly complex theme a clear and easily understandable structure.
There are two main points that I take with me at the end of my internship. My research has taught me a great deal about the various megatrends and I’ve also learnt that while each single megatrend in itself deserves serious attention, when searching for solutions we should never consider it in isolation but always take account of how it connects up and intermeshes with all the other megatrends.
The second thing I’ve learnt from FutureChallenges is to view the Internet with a different pair of eyes. Nowadays with the Internet it’s easier than ever before to reach nearly all people everywhere in the world and enter into dialog with them. And this is precisely the leverage that FutureChallenges is using to bring people from all over the world together to report on their experiences and start a conversation about the challenges they face. This is the only way forward for us if we are to gain a better understanding of the complex linkages between megatrends and come up with effective solutions.