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Knowledge for policy

Supporting policy with scientific evidence

We mobilise people and resources to create, curate, make sense of and use knowledge to inform policymaking across Europe.


Climate change and environmental degradation

Continued unabated, anthropogenic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions will further increase changing climate patterns.



A Megatrend is a long-term driving force that is observable now and will continue to have a global impact in years to come

Even if all emissions from human activities would suddenly stop, the climate would continue to change. However, continued unabated, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions will further increase global warming and changing climate patterns. This is why climate change mitigation is necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change and at the same time climate change adaptation is necessary to reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts that we cannot prevent.

Aggravated by pollution, overexploitation of natural resources and environmental degradation will lead to severe, pervasive and possibly irreversible changes for people, assets, economies and ecosystems around the world.



The driving forces of the Megatrend change over time. This timeline indicates more established and newer trends that are influencing the future direction of the Megatrend



They indicate a direction of change in values and needs which is driven by forces and manifests itself already in various ways within certain groups in society. 

Climate change continues

Human-caused climate change continues. Anthropogenic (i.e. human origin) greenhouse gas emissions are increasing, largely driven by economic and population growth. These emissions determine the rate at which global warming will occur.

Negative impact increases

The negative impact of climate change on our lives increases. Global warming is already affecting us today. With continued climate change, the severity of negative impacts will increase.

Change the way we live

Climate change mitigation requires fundamental changes in the way we live. Fundamental changes in the way we live are necessary to stop the continuation of global warming and to prevent its worst effects.

Public support increases

Public support for climate and environmental action has increased and is now a major concern of citizens.

Outside planetary boundaries

We continue to live outside of the planetary boundaries. Humanity activity has negative effects on the natural environment. We pollute natural ecosystems and use resources at a rate that makes it impossible for ecosystems to regenerate.


Previously Covered Trends

These are trends that were spotted in the past, and might have grown or faded away in time.

-    Reduce GHG emissions
-    Urban development
-    Techniques addressing pollution
-    Increasing resilience
-    Sustainable Development Goals


Future Snapshots

A future snapshot shows a possible image of the future of the Megatrend. These snapshots are highlights of inspiring future-oriented reports. 

'Do it ourselves'

“The political system shows an incapacity to implement significant climate and SDG policies. However, consumers change their attitudes and behaviour under the thrust of increasingly influential social movements and the aftermath of a series of dramatic crises. Subsequently, the resulting change in demand (both patterns and levels) drives the supply system to adapt.”

Other sketched scenarios are: Do it for us, Do it together, Do what is unavoidable

The European bioeconomy in 2050 Four foresight scenarios. JRC (2021)



“Climate action and biodiversity recuperation are the top-line of every national and transnational agenda. The results of the galvanised global efforts have been unprecedented for the environment, but not without significant sacrifice from people who are realising the trade-offs did not quite work out for them. Humanity now lives in self-imposed servitude to the environment under the mantra of ‘happy planet, happy people.’”

Other sketched scenarios are: Humans inc., Post Anthropocene, Extinction express

2050 scenarios Four plausible futures. ARUP (2019)


“The potential role of technology in providing or improving the provision of ecosystem services. In this scenario, people push ecosystems to their limits through the use of technology for maximal resource extraction. Sometimes, unexpected problems and human’s reliance on technology undercuts the ability of ecosystems to support themselves. This leads to surprising interruptions of some ecosystem services, and sometimes serious consequences for human well-being.”

Other sketched scenarios are: The global orchestration, The order from strength, The adapting mosaic

Ecosystems and Human Well-being: biodiversity synthesis. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005)


Further Reading

Want to explore more? Some interesting readings below:

●    Drivers of change of relevance for Europe's environment and sustainability - European Environment Agency
●    PESETA IV – EU science hub
●   100 Climate-neutral Cities by 2030 - European Commission 



This Megatrends hub is a repository of foresight related information. It highlights long-term driving forces and its underlying shorter-term trends. This repository can help you understand the changing society in a broad and more systemic way. 

Disclaimer: this repository is by no means comprehensive and apart from established scientific knowledge contains also issues which are subject to scientific debate and where research is ongoing or only starting (indicated as stronger or weaker trends) to give the reader some insights and ways to further explore the topics in more depth.