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Where are the megatrends taking us? 

Megatrends are the drivers of most developments and businesses for the next decades.


Annika Konttinen

lehtori, matkailuliiketoiminta
Senior Lecturer, tourism business
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Anu Seppänen

lehtori, markkinointi ja viestintä
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 11.01.2024

Megatrends lay the foundations for other trends and disruptions that we see around us. Let’s have a look at what has been happening around the strongest megatrends lately. 

1 Climate change and sustainable development  

Climate and sustainability concerns are no longer for the niches – climate change is affecting the lives of everyone on the planet. UN experts (UNEP 20.11.2023) warn that we are on a course to a 3-degree climate warming and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2023) states that we will very soon exceed the 1.5-degree limit set by the Paris Agreement. Shockingly, according to Oxfam (20.11.2023), the richest 1 % generate as much carbon emissions as the poorest 66 %, i.e., 5 billion people. The super-rich are polluting the planet, while the poorest bear the brunt of droughts, floods and other extreme weather events – making climate change a crisis of inequality. 

There is hope, though, if we put our minds to the task, collaborate and commit to climate legislation, innovate and make investments in technological solutions. Companies that see possibilities in the green transition, i.e., moving away from fossil fuel and overconsumption, and integrate sustainable practices into their operations not only contribute to a healthier planet but also resonate with sustainability-conscious consumers. The UNSDGs address topics related to sustainable development. Many companies and cities are already reporting on their progress on the goals – with Helsinki (2023) as the first European city to do it. Finland is currently number one in achieving UNSDGs of all 193 UN member states! 

2 Technological development 

The rapid pace of technological innovation has become a defining feature of the 21st century. From artificial intelligence and automation to the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain, businesses are compelled to adapt, or risk being outdated. Embracing these technologies not only enhances efficiency but also opens new avenues for product development, customer engagement, and business models. 

Finland has been recognised as the world’s most technologically advanced nation, according to a report by the United Nations Development Programme (GlobalData 27.3.2023). The ranking considered factors like citizens’ technological skills, internet use, and ability to utilise technology in a network economy. As the happiest country in the world, Finland maintains a healthy relationship with technology, balancing it with a strong reverence for nature and the outdoors. Finnish people are not as affected by the fake perfection (shown for example in social media) because they are taught how to use technology for personal growth, not showing off. This unique perspective comes from a realistic combination of education and attitude towards technology. 

3 Urbanisation and globalisation 

Most of the global population is living in cities now and the future of humanity is urban (UN Habitat 2022). Currently, 56 % of the world is urbanised, and by 2050, according to the World Bank (3.4.2023), the figure will be 70 %. Innovation and technological development take place in cities, with many of them becoming smart. Cities contribute to sustainable and technological development, investments, trade and education. Also, cities are at the forefront of combating climate change, inequality, crime, poverty, pandemics and air pollution.  

The world is more interconnected than ever, with globalisation taking on a new form. Cross-border collaboration, emerging markets, and digital platforms create opportunities and challenges for businesses. Adapting to this interconnected world requires a global mindset and strategic partnerships that transcend geographical boundaries. The counterforces of political polarisation and populism, inequality and injustice, decline of democracy and rise of authoritarian rule are getting stronger in many places around the world. However, there is no stopping the flows and connections that have been forged between citizens, countries, cultures and continents. Thanks to these connections and technology, we know instantly when something big happens on the other side of the world. 

4 Demographic change and power shift 

Over half of the global population of around 8 billion lives in Asia. The fastest growing populations will be in India, Nigeria and Pakistan. The sub-Saharan Africa population will double, and Europe will shrink in significance (UN 2023). Changing demographics, including an aging population and the rise of Generation Z, profoundly impacts consumer preferences as well as products, services and experiences offered by companies, and workforce dynamics. Businesses that understand and cater to the unique needs and values of these diverse demographics gain a competitive edge, fostering innovation and inclusivity.  

There is also a power shift about to emerge with US and Japan losing their status as the engines of the global economy to China and India, which are becoming the largest economies in the coming decades. It is not only economic status, but also political clout that is in transition. China is rising in prominence on the world stage. For countries like Finland, with an aging population and diminishing supply of labour, maintaining the status of a Nordic welfare state is becoming increasingly challenging. It is worth fighting for, though, as the safety net provided by the model is seen as an equaliser and a basis for a stable society (Deloitte 2020). 

5 Future of work: Flexibility and diversity at work 

The traditional 9-to-5 work model is evolving, and remote work, flexible schedules, and freelance opportunities are becoming more prevalent. Companies that embrace this trend can attract and retain top talent while fostering a culture of adaptability. Finland is among the top countries for remote work in Europe (OECD 2023) and up to half of employees in Finland would consider resigning, if denied the opportunity to work from home and be forced back to the office (Yrittäjät 2023). 

Acknowledging the impact of changing demographics, businesses should also implement diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies. This not only fosters a positive workplace culture but also ensures that products and services resonate with a diverse customer base. According to BCG (Uehigashi et al 2022), Finnish companies have not been able to embrace diversity in business, although Finland is considered one of the most gender-equal countries in the world. A lot remains to be done on the DEI front to realise its full potential. There is hope, though, here as well, as Finland has been selected as the best place in Europe for expats to live in (Sturges 30.10.2023)!  

From the above overview, it is clear to see that our future will be hotter…and more Asian, AI-driven and urban, and that megatrends are interconnected. These transitions, changes and shifts in the megatrends will touch the lives of each of us, as citizens, employees and entrepreneurs. They will influence consumer trends and change our way of life. If we are aware of the trends, and agile enough to adjust our thinking and doing based on them, we will be able to build a sustainable future.  


Deloitte 2020. The Nordic social welfare model: Lessons for reform. Retrieved: 24.11.2023.

GlobalData 27.3.2023. Technology and happiness: What Finland knows. Retrieved: 24.11.2023.

Helsinki 2023. From Agenda to Action: Implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Helsinki 2023. Retrieved: 24.11.2023.

IPCC 2023. AR6 Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2023. Retrieved: 24.11.2023.

OECD 2023. The new geography of remote jobs? Evidence from Europe. Retrieved: 24.11.2023.

Oxfam 20.11.2023. Climate Equality: A planet for the 99%. Retrieved: 24.11.2023.

Sturges, C. 30.10.2023. This is officially the best European city for expats to move to. Retrieved: 24.11.2023.

Uehigashi, K., Belt, A., Garland, O., Inovaara, S. & Peterzens, E. 2022. Time to Run, Finland!. Retrieved: 24.11.2023.

UNEP 20.11.2023. Emissions Gap Report 2023. Retrieved: 24.11.2023.

UN Habitat 2022. World Cities Report 2022. Retrieved: 24.11.2023.

UN 2023. Global issues: Population. Retrieved: 24.11.2023.

World Bank 3.4.2023. Urban Development Overview. Retrieved: 24.11.2023.

Yrittäjät 2023. Kysely suomalaisille työllisille 2023. Retrieved: 24.11.2023.