Future Trends Report 2021

In the first of our blog posts on Future Trends we introduced why thinking about the future is important in planning and decision-making and how the Future Trends Report, along with other tools, can help you do this.

In this post we want to share more about the structure of the Report and provide an initial overview of the key themes emerging in the trends, and drivers of change it will feature. Over the coming months, ahead of publication, we will provide more detailed narratives of specific trends emerging around these themes. By doing this we hope the blog can be a space to continue and encourage discussions about the opportunities and challenges facing Wales in the future.

Structure of the Report

Due to be published in December 2021, the Report will identify the key social, economic, environmental and cultural trends which could affect Wales in the future, as well as some of the factors driving and influencing the direction of those trends. It will do so by covering the ‘Trends’ and ‘Drivers’ sections of the pyramid below which forms part of the wider tools to understand Wales’ future

Understanding Wales’ Future – framework

Future Trends pyramid

Trends are underlying patterns of change, which can be seen in Wales across all four areas of well-being (environmental, economic, cultural and social).

Drivers are the influencing factors shaping the direction and speed of trends. These are often referred to as megatrends. They are well established and their impact can be seen both at a national level in Wales and the UK, as well as internationally. They also have the potential to exert a direct influence on the achievement of Wales’ well-being goals.

These trends and drivers will form the basis of the Future Trends Report 2021. The evidence and analysis surrounding them will provide a foundation for exploring the potential opportunities and challenges these trends might create in achieving Wales’ well-being goals. The Report will also support more focused analysis on scenarios and ultimately aims to assist in decision-making which attempts to ensure a better future for people and places across Wales.

The Report will be made up of three resources. These are:

  • An evidence pack which will provide the data, high-level analysis and conclusions which underpin the Report.
  • A narrative report which will provide a written summary of the drivers and trends that are likely to affect the achievement of Wales’ well-being goals, and will explain the meaning of the trends for Wales in greater detail.
  • An infographic which will provide an at-a-glance overview of the key messages emerging from the trends featured in the Report.

The Report will also acknowledge the significance of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but given the uncertainty on the longer term impacts we plan to use a future update to the Report to update on how trends might have been impacted when more robust evidence is available. 

Which key trends and drivers are featured in the report?

The Report will feature four key drivers of change (megatrends) and two public sector trend areas which are likely to be important in shaping Wales’ future well-being.

These trends will be set out under four megatrends and two public sector trends covering the following trends within them:

People and Population: Trends in demographic patterns with slowing population growth and an ageing population, migration, housing demand and need, health and the Welsh language

Inequalities and Opportunities: Trends in poverty, income inequality, equality gaps, employment and qualification profiles and changing nature of work

Planetary Health and Limits: Trends in climate change and its impacts, distribution of climate risks, changing consumption and emissions, species loss and ecosystem resilience, food vulnerability and demand and changing transport use and demand.

Technological Evolution: Trends in the continued growth of the internet and digitalisation of society with AI and cloud computing, development of digital divide, impact of technological change on skills, employment and business adaptation and increasing cyber-security risks and new ethical issues.

Public Finances: Trends showing projections for GDP recovery, public sector borrowing, pressure on resource budgets and changing working age population trends and associated tax revenue

Public Sector Demand and Digital Change: Trends in demand for health and social care, changing old age support ratio and increasing demand for digital public services and public sector digital adaption.

Within each of these sections of the Report the evidence pack will set out key evidence on how these trends are developing and high-level analysis on what this might mean for Wales. The links between trends will be highlighted throughout to encourage connected thinking on potential futures and the opportunities and challenges that trends might create across sectors. Further data sources and analysis will be also be included on each trend to allow more detailed examination of particular trends of interest.

In the run up to the Report being published in December, we are going to be sharing insights on some key spotlighted trends through this blog. Keep an eye out for those and please get in touch with us at ShapingWalesFuture@gov.wales if you have any suggestions for future blog posts or would welcome further information on the other megatrends.

The Shaping Wales’ Future consultation is live! Click here for more details.

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