EUISS: Global Trends 2030
According to the United Nations (UN), by 2030 the world population will reach 8.3 billion. Millions of these individuals are being empowered by the social and technological progress of the last decades. The main drivers of this trend are, first and foremost, the global emergence of the middle class, particularly in Asia, near-universal access to education, the empowering effects of information and communications technology (ICT), and the evolution in the status of women in most countries. These transformations are increasing the autonomy of individuals and powerful non-state actors vis-à-vis the state.
In 1990, about 73 percent of the world population was literate. In 2010, global literacy rates reached 84 percent and the literacy rate may pass the 90 percent mark in 2030. Women are becoming empowered throughout the world, a trend that is likely to continue into the future. Women now have better access to education, information, and economic and political opportunities, all of which contribute to greater gender equality. However, progress is very uneven from region to region and between different social groups, with girls, indigenous, immigrant or low-caste women remaining especially vulnerable.
The middle class will increase in influence as its ranks swell to 3.2 billion by 2020 and to 4.9 billion by 2030. The middle class will be the protagonist of the universal spread of information societies. Citizens will be interconnected by myriad networks and greater interpersonal trans-national flows. It can therefore be assumed that the citizens of 2030 will want a greater say in their future than those of previous generations.
More and more people will live in the ‘information age’ as improved technology that is more portable and affordable makes information more universally accessible. The digital divide will not disappear over the next 20 years, but it will narrow considerably. By 2030, it is estimated that more than half of the world’s population will have internet access. However, new information technologies will remain unavailable to many people because of illiteracy and lack of access to electricity, although in regions as deprived as Sub-Saharan Africa the availability of mobile phones may compensate for limited access to electricity. (12-13)