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 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 perceive 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's Global Leader, 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

Impact of technology, climate change and significant events

  • Market dynamics are changing and business models will need to adapt or fail
  • Massive numbers of jobs are going to be lost or transformed
  • Technology capital will increasingly be a differentiator
  • There will be a continuous change in the relationship between people and technology
  • Climate change is increasingly leading to resource shortages, asset impairment and supply chain issues
  • Climate-related effects will displace thousands of people, destroy millions of acres of land and cause potentially trillions of dollars in losses
  • Significant events like COVID-19 are massively disrupting society, business and individuals

Population shifts and demographic pressure

  • Needs and consumption patterns will shift significantly
  • There will be capacity (infrastructure, investment, organisational capability and people) mismatch across countries
  • People will not be able to afford to retire and will be a significant drain on the system in ‘old’ countries
  • Massive number of jobs are 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
  • Societal polarisation is becoming more extreme
  • Nations will compete for the best and brightest
  • Political decisions are increasingly parochial
  • There is an increase in international conflict, insecurity and immigration
  • Global businesses will need to be deeply embedded in key countries
  • International organisations find it harder to be effective as consensus is more difficult to build

Declining confidence in the institutions that underpin society

  • Institutions will continue to be devalued and suffer the corrosive effects of corruption
  • Concerns about personal and digital security are increasing
  • The rise of tribalism and distrust of those outside own identity group will continue
  • Rising scepticism will make it harder to drive meaningful change
  • There’s a growing 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


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Blair Sheppard

Blair Sheppard

Global Leader, Strategy and Leadership, PwC United States

Alexis Jenkins

Alexis Jenkins

Director, Global Strategy and Leadership, PwC United Kingdom

Nadia Kubis

Nadia Kubis

Director, Global Strategy and Leadership, PwC Germany

Daria Zarubina

Daria Zarubina

Director, Global Strategy and Leadership, PwC United Kingdom