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Outlining five urgent global issues facing the world today and their implications. Asymmetry, disruption, age, polarisation, and trust.

About the framework

It has become apparent that the long-term phenomena of the Megatrends are already upon us. Governments, organisations and society are all struggling with the near-term manifestations of these trends and looking for answers. We are helping our clients to focus on these challenges using a framework we have called ADAPT.

The world is complex and difficult to understand and the risk is that we are paralysed by the complexity. This framework is a way of analysing and thinking about these issues in a way that allows people to take positive action.

While you could interrogate ADAPT and emerge feeling overwhelmed, we see huge opportunities in these challenges. Not least, the opportunity to reframe the way you see the world and take action to drive towards a positive outcome for yourself, your organisation and the society of which you are a part.

We hope you are similarly inspired by the potential, and we hope you will join us in acting upon it. 

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Blair Sheppard, PwC Global Leader for Strategy and Leadership, discusses the issues associated with ADAPT | Duration 13:29

Key implications of each ADAPT factor:

Increasing wealth disparity and the erosion of the middle class

  • Disparities in opportunity will grow
  • Regional disadvantage is at risk of getting larger
  • Traditional sources of money will decline
  • Public private partnerships will be more critical
  • Technological capability creates greater disparity

The pervasive nature of technology and its impact on individuals, society and the climate

  • Changing market dynamics and continuous adaptation of business models due to technology and climate change
  • Institutions are struggling to adapt and are at risk of failing
  • Massive loss of work and transformation of work
  • Continuous change in the relationship between people and technology
  • Resource shortages, asset impairment and supply chain threats due to climate
  • Technology capital increasingly a differentiator


Demographic pressure on business, social institutions and economies

  • Significant shift in needs and consumption patterns
  • Critical workforce shortages
  • Capacity (infrastructure, investment, organizational capability and people) mismatch across countries
  • Significant drain on the system in ‘old’ countries and people can’t afford to retire
  • Massive number of jobs needed in ‘young’ countries

Breakdown in global consensus and a fracturing world, with growing nationalism and populism

  • People’s local concerns become more acute and crowd out other issues
  • Reduction in international travel and immigration
  • Societal polarization becoming more extreme
  • Competition among nations for best and brightest
  • Political decisions are increasingly parochial

Declining confidence in the institutions that underpin society

  • Devaluing of institutions and corrosive effects of corruption
  • Increasing concern about personal and digital security
  • Tribalism and distrust of those outside identity group
  • Harder to make meaningful change due to rising skepticism
  • Debate over truth

“The ADAPT framework summarises extremely urgent issues confronting society, business and individuals that are acute, divisive and for which there are no easy answers. Yet we must act on them now or we will face a future which we will not like”.

Blair SheppardGlobal Leader for Strategy and Leadership, PwC Global

Join the conversation on Twitter: #PwCADAPT


Blair Sheppard

Global Leader, Strategy and Leadership for the PwC Network, PwC United States


Thomas Minet

Director, Global Strategy and Leadership, PwC United States


Daria Zarubina

Director, Global Strategy and Leadership, PwC Russia


Alexis Jenkins

Director, Global Strategy and Leadership, PwC United Kingdom