I came across megatrends repeatedly doing research for my next documentary Identity and the Other and decided to do a bit of further digging. I found different definitions for different countries and cultures, no surprise there. The following seemed the most comprehensive. 

Megatrends are defined as forces (i.e. trends) affecting all aspects of our lives over a long period of time. Factors are

  • Long-term (they incorporate a series of trends over many years)
  • Ubiquitous (they encompassing economy, culture, ecology, technology etc.)
  • Resilient (they contain retro-trends and are unlikely to be disrupted)
  • Slow (their typical change rate is a few percent per year)

Two global megatrends emerge, first the rise of Asia and the fall of the Western world and second the apparent growing role of religion.

For an amazing explanation of how the rise of Asia will happen, watch Hans Rosling’s TED talk in India and be blown away by his interactive PowerPoint graph, Gapminder (which is downloadable for free). Rosling demonstrates very powerfully how India and China will – in the very near future – catch up to the western countries in terms of life expectancy and median income. 

The distinguished Washington think tank, The Brookings Institution published a paper end of 2011 on “Religious Revival and Megatrends in Global Security, Economy and Governancepoints to the second Megatrend: The growing role of religion in a globalized and increasingly populated world and the decline of a secularist approach to handling of public affairs, including international affairs. This trend, in light of nation’s high interdependence, raises acute problems of global governance. The paper explores the areas where these two trends intersect.

I found it interesting and mildly disturbing that climate change was NOT trending globally.  

Next I did a bit of further digging to see what was trending in Switzerland and it seems that urbanization and demographic changes in the population are on the top of the list. 70% of the population now lives in a city or its immediate agglomeration and about 24% of people living in Switzerland are not Swiss.  

A study by the Swiss National Research Program (“Nationales Forschungs Program: NFP 58”)  points to the fact that as Swiss citizens become less and less religious, the Swiss media does increasingly talk about religion; Islam in particular. Comparative numbers from six European countries included in an expansive research project called EurIslam show similar trends.

Take the rise of Asia, the globally growing role of religion, a 24% foreign population in Switzerland and a much denser population in Swiss cities and it leads to a cross-road of trends that might shed light on the growing unease with which Switzerland handles itself when it comes to questions of immigration.

And it is here where I would like to start the conversation with my film Identity and the Other. I’m interested in the intersection of global trends meeting and affecting Swiss trends and how the Swiss handle it and how it can affect Switzerland into the future.  A future carried by the Millennial generation, born in the 1980ies. 

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