State of the Future version 19.0

by Jerome C. Glenn, Elizabeth Florescu, and The Millennium Project Team

Pages: 208; includes some 50 graphs
ISBN: 978-0-9882639-5-6
Library of Congress Control Number:

“An important example of using scientific methods and collective intelligence to help us understand and act better for the future.”
— Phil Mjwara, Director General, Ministry of Science & Technology, South Africa

“Outstanding report!”
— Jim Spohrer, Director, Cognitive Opentech Group, IBM

“A high level, reliable intellectual compass for the conflict ridden, and uncertain world advancing toward the mid-century.”
— Mihály Simai, former Chairman, United Nations University

“The indispensable guide for futurists and aspiring global citizens everywhere.”
— Hazel Henderson, Futurist, author, CEO, Ethical Markets Media

“Without this kind of guidance, many people would lose their way and get lost in their decision making process.”
— Julio Millan, President, Azteca Corporation, Mexico

“The State of the Future has proved useful for better addressing our resilience objectives.”
— Lina Liakou, Thessaloniki Vice Mayor and Chief Resilience Officer

“Great source of inspiration and focus to our organizations.”

— Michael Bodekaer, CEO, Learn-Technologies

Executive Summary and Front mattersEnglish (pdf)

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Table of Contents


1.  Sustainable Development and Climate Change
2.  Water and Sanitation
3.  Population and Resources
4.  Democratization
5.  Global Foresight and Decisionmaking
6.  Global Convergence of ICT
7.  Rich-Poor Gap
8.  Health Issues
9.  Education and Leaning
10. Peace and Conflict
11. Status of Women
12. Transnational Organized Crime
13. Energy
14. Science and Technology
15. Global Ethics
FUTURE WORK/TECHNOLOGY 2050 Global Scenarios and Strategies

Millennium Project Node Chairs, Board Members & Sponsors
List of Tables, Boxes and Graphs
Acronyms and Abbreviations
Other Millennium Project Research


Today’s information overloaded world needs coherence, frameworks, and context to get a sense of the big picture of how we are doing and foreseeable prospects. Taken together, the very short overviews of the 15 Global Challenges offer a systemic framework for understanding global change.

A complete description of the global situation, prospects for the future, and strategies to achieve the best possible future is—of course—impossible, but enough is presented in the State of the Future to improve the readers’ global foresight. Far greater information and intelligence is available in the Global Futures Intelligence System at, where the subscriber can also participate in updating and improving this collective intelligence system on the future of the world.

The State of the Future Version 19.0 brings together an extraordinarily diverse set of data, information, intelligence, and, we hope, some wisdom about the future. This is the nineteenth edition of the State of the Future. We believe that each edition is better than the previous one. We update data, improve insights, and respond to feedback. Over the years, the short overviews in each State of the Future report kept getting longer, and they became too long to say they are “short.” In this edition, they are shorter. We hope you like them. The longer “Short Overviews” with regional considerations will still be available free online and updated regularly in the GFIS, which is also available on your mobile phone, for just-in-time information.

Since humanity lives in different conditions around the world, not all of the actions suggested to address the Global Challenges are appropriate in all situations; think of them as a menu of options and a source of stimulation to develop more appropriate strategies to your unique situation. The suggested actions are drawn from feedback on previous State of the Future reports, Millennium Project Delphi studies, and GFIS’s news feeds, scanning items, situation updates, and peer reviewers’ comments.

This is the third time we have used the online GFIS to update and improve the State of the Future report. The challenges in GFIS are updated regularly from news aggregations, scanning items, situation charts, and other resources, which has led to greater detail and depth than in the previous edition. While this report presents the distilled results of recent research by The Millennium Project, GFIS contains the detailed background and data for that research, plus all of The Millennium Project’s research since its founding in 1996. It also contains the largest internationally peer-reviewed set of methods to explore future possibilities ever assembled in one source. Readers of this report are encouraged to subscribe to GFIS to keep up to date and to participate in improving insights about future possibilities.

The purpose of futures research is to systematically explore, create, and test both possible and desirable futures in order to improve decisions. Just as the person on top of the mast on old sailing ships used to point out the rocks and safe channels to the captain below for the smooth running of the ship through uncharted waters, so too can futurists with foresight systems point out problems and opportunities to leaders and the public around the world. Since decisionmaking is increasingly affected by globalization, global futures research is increasingly needed for decisionmaking by individuals, groups, and institutions. The quality of democracies emerging around the world depends on the quality of information received by the public. The issues and opportunities addressed in this report can contribute to better-informed decisionmaking.

This report is for thought leaders, decisionmakers, and all those who care about the world and its future. Readers will learn how their interests fit into the global situation and how the global situation may affect them and their interests. The State of the Future and GFIS provide an additional eye on global change. These are information utilities that you can draw from as relevant to your unique needs. They provide an overview of the global strategic landscape. Business executives use the research as input to their strategic planning. University professors, futurists, and other consultants find this information useful in teaching and research.

The Millennium Project is a voluntary global participatory think tank of futurists, scholars, scientists, business planners, and policymakers who work for international organizations, governments, corporations, NGOs, and universities and who volunteer their time to improve each edition of the State of the Future. It was selected to be among the top think tanks in the world for new ideas and paradigms as well as for best quality assurance and integrity policies and procedures by the 2013-2016 University of Pennsylvania’s GoTo Think Tank Index and as a 2012 Computerworld Honors Laureate for its innovations in collective intelligence systems.

The purposes of The Millennium Project are to assist in organizing futures research, improve thinking about the future, and make that thinking available through a variety of media for consideration in policymaking, advanced training, public education, and feedback, ideally in order to accumulate wisdom about potential futures. The Project’s diversity of opinions and global views is ensured by its 63 Nodes around the world. These are groups of individuals and organizations that interconnect global and local perspectives. They identify participants, conduct interviews, translate and distribute questionnaires, and conduct research and conferences. It is through their contributions that the world picture of this report and indeed all of The Millennium Project’s work emerges.

Through its research, publications, addresses at conferences, and Nodes, The Millennium Project helps to nurture an international collaborative spirit of free inquiry and feedback for increasing collective intelligence to improve social, technical, and environmental viability for human development. Feedback on any sections of the book is most welcome at <> and may help shape the next State of the Future, GFIS, and the general work of The Millennium Project.

Jerome C. Glenn, Executive Director
Elizabeth Florescu, Director of Research
The Millennium Project Team — Staff , 63 Nodes, Reviewers

Description and some Thoughts

The prospects for humanity could be great, provided the main global challenges are addressed, shows the State of the Future produced by The Millennium Project.

The State of the Future is a comprehensive overview of the present situation and prospects for humanity, integrating forecasts, trends, and judgments of thought leaders and scholars from around the world sharing important future possibilities to improve strategies today.

The 2017 State of the Future Index shows that we are winning more than losing, so we have no right to be pessimistic; however, where we are losing is very serious, so we cannot fall asleep either. After updating global developments and trends within the 15 Global Challenges for over 20 years, it is clear that humanity has the means to avoid potential disasters described in this report and to build a great future. Pessimism is an intellectually cowardly position that need not prove anything and can stunt the growth of innovative idealistic minds. Yet idealism untested by pessimism or unaware of the depth and magnitude of global problems fosters naiveté that can waste our time—and time is not on our side.

We need hard-headed pragmatic idealists willing to understand the depths of human depravity and heights of human wisdom. We need serious, coherent, and integrated understandings of mega-problems and mega-opportunities to identify and implement strategies on the scale necessary to address global challenges.

Doing everything right to address climate change or counter organized crime in one country will not make enough of a difference if others do not act as well. The challenges we face are transnational in scope and trans-institutional in solution. We need coordinated transnational implementation. Government and corporate future strategy units are proliferating, but they have yet to sufficiently influence decisions on the scale and speed necessary to address the complex, integrated, and global nature of accelerating change. Intergovernmental organizations and public-private collaborations are also increasing, but they too have to become far more effective. Humanity needs a global, multifaceted, general long-term view of the future with bold long-range goals to excite the imagination and inspire international collaboration.

Slowly but surely, a globally oriented planetary stewardship consciousness is emerging. Yet it may be too tolerant of the momentum of slow decisionmaking and glacial pace of cultural changes to improve our prospects. “Business as usual” future projections for water, food, unemployment, terrorism, organized crime, and environmental and information pollution lead to a series of complex human disasters. The stakes are too high to tolerate business as usual. The world is in a race between implementing ever-increasing ways to improve the human condition and the seemingly ever-increasing complexity and scale of global problems.

The Executive Summary of the State of the Future 19.0 gives a clear and precise overview of our situation, prospects, and suggestions for building a better future, plus an annual World Report Card of where we are winning and losing, and the 2017 State of the Future Index.
The section on the 15 Global Challenges provides a framework for understanding global change.
The State of the Future Index (SOFI) section offers more details on how the SOFI is computed, graphs and forecsts for the 29 variables included in the SOFI, a sensitivity analysis of the 2017 SOFI, and a national applications for Pakistan.
The chapter on Emerging Technologies for Potential Pre-detection of Terrorists and new Counter-terrorism Strategies presents some new approaches that could help identify potential terrorists and their plans as early as possible. It is a summary of an Advanced Research Workshop supported by NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Programme. This chapter summarizes the workshop’s outcomes and draws on material published in the subsequent book Identification of Potential Terrorists and Adversary Planning Emerging Technologies and New Counter-Terror Strategies.
The section on the Future Work/Technology 2050 presents three scenrios that help explore a series of questions such as:
• What should we begin to do now to prevent long-term structural unemployment due to future technologies?
• What questions need to be resolved to answer whether AI and other future technologies will create more jobs than they replace?
• If massive unemployment cannot be prevented, what politicaleconomic changes would it be wise to begin to develop?

Rich with data, analysis and forecasts, the State of the Future report is a unic “one-stop-shop” to understand the present situation and potential prospects in all the domains– from economy to demographics, S&T, climate change, democracy, and global ethics.


List of Figures, Tables, Boxes

Executive Summary
Figure 1. State of the Future Index 2017
Figure 2. Where We Are Winning
Figure 3. Where We Are Losing or There Is Little or No Progress
Figure 4. Global Challenges

Global Challenges
Figure 1.1  Screenshot of the GFIS Challenge 3 Situation Chart
Figure 1.2  GHG emissions, CO2-equivalent mixing ratio (ppm)
Figure 1.3  Renewable internal freshwater resources per capita (cubic meters)
Figure 1.4  Prevalence of undernourishment (% of population)
Figure 1.5  Freedom rights (number of countries rated “free”)
Figure 1.6  Internet users (per 100 people)
Figure 1.7  Economic income inequality (Income share held by highest 10%)
Figure 1.8  Health expenditure per capita (current $)
Figure 1.9  Likelihood of education and learning possibilities by 2030
Figure 1.10 Terrorism incidents
Figure 1.11 Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (% of members)
Figure 1.12 Electricity production from renewable sources, excluding hydroelectric (% of total)
Figure 1.13 R&D expenditures (% of GDP)
Figure 1.14 CPIA transparency, accountability, and corruption in the public sector rating (1=low; 6=high)
Figure 1.15 Global Challenges and SOFI Process

State of the Future Index
Figure 2.1 State of the Future Index 2017
Figure 2.2 State of the Future Index 2017 with sensitivity analysis
Figure 2.3 Where we are winning
Figure 2.4 Where we are losing or there is no progress
Figure 2.5 Pakistan SOFI 2017
Figure 2.6 GNI per capita, PPP (constant 2011 international $)
Figure 2.7 Economic income inequality (Income share held by highest 10%)
Figure 2.8 Unemployment, total (% of world labor force)
Figure 2.9 Poverty headcount ratio at $1.90 a day (2011 PPP) (% of population)
Figure 2.10 CPIA transparency, accountability, and corruption in the public sector rating (1=low; 6=high)
Figure 2.11 Foreign direct investment, net inflows (BoP, current $, billions)
Figure 2.12 R&D expenditures (% of GDP)
Figure 2.13 Population growth (annual %)
Figure 2.14 Life expectancy at birth (years)
Figure 2.15 Mortality rate, infant (per 1,000 live births)
Figure 2.16 Prevalence of undernourishment (% of population)
Figure 2.17 Health expenditure per capita (current $)
Figure 2.18 Physicians (per 1,000 people)
Figure 2.19 Improved water sources (% of population with access)
Figure 2.20 Renewable internal freshwater resources per capita (cubic meters)
Figure 2.21 Biocapacity per capita (gha)
Figure 2.22 Forest area (% of land area)
Figure 2.23 GHG emissions, CO2-equivalent mixing ratio (ppm)
Figure 2.24 Energy efficiency (GDP per unit of energy use (constant 2011 PPP $ per kg of oil equivalent))
Figure 2.25 Electricity production from renewable sources, excluding hydroelectric (% of total)
Figure 2.26 Literacy rate, adult total (% of people aged 15 and above)
Figure 2.27 School enrollment, secondary (% gross)
Figure 2.28 Share of high-skilled employment (%)
Figure 2.29 Number of wars and armed conflicts
Figure 2.30 Terrorism incidents
Figure 2.31 Social unrest indicator (number of protest events/ total events) (%)
Figure 2.32 Freedom rights (number of countries rated “free”)
Figure 2.33 Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (% of members)
Figure 2.34 Internet users (per 100 people)

Box 2.1 Variables included in the computation of 2017 SOFI
Box 2.2 Variables included in the Pakistan SOFI 2017

Emerging Technologies for Potential Pre-detection of Terrorists and New Counter‑Terrorism Strategies

Figure 3.1. Pre-detection RTD Questionnaire Layout
Figure 3.2. Effect of Combining Several Measures
Figure 3.3. Effectiveness versus Likelihood of Implementation
Figure 3.4. Ethical versus Authoritarian Democracy Bifurcations and Scenarios
Figure 3.5. Terrorists’ Goals, Preparedness, and Strategies Bifurcations and Scenarios
Figure 3.6. Technology as an Anticipatory Answer to Terrorism; Bifurcations and Scenarios

Table 3.1. Quantitative Assessment of the suggested Measures
Table 3.2. Technology as an Anticipatory Answer; Overview of Some Potential Means of Pre-detection
Table 3.3. Technology as an Anticipatory Answer; Characteristics of Several Alternatives

Figure 5.1 Initial Draft Concept for Discussion of an Integrated Global Strategy