When researching trends, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by publications. Every now and then, however, we are pleased to find a clear, well-written overview of relevant trends. The Dutch Interdepartmental trend-scan for 2025 is such an example. The first edition was published in 2011, the update in June 2013. Read more on the process that lead to this publication in our interview with Boudewijn Steur
What caught my eye is the fact that the authors explain very clearly which criteria they used for selecting the trends:
- Relevance to the 2025 time horizon: the trend is expected to be relevant in the medium long term
- Potential impact on government policy: the trend, or a combination of trends, is expected to intervene in national government policy
- Interdepartmental relevance: the trend is expected not only to have an impact on a specific policy, but in a broader domain of the central government.
- Autonomy: the selected trends are considered highly autonomous, possible interference of developments is described separately
The 17 trends (freely translated to English) for the Netherlands to 2025:
1. More households, different composition: The Netherlands will be faced with more households, but these households will be of a different composition, i.e. single person households, and single-parent families
2. The metropolis central: By 2025, 80% of the world population is expected to live in cities. Cities and urban areas are gaining importance in (international) economics and politics.
3. Fragmentation, discontinuity and de-institutionalization: Mainly as a result of individualisation, people are less attached to traditions and value systems. People are no longer represented in groups, but take part in several networks. Also, people had less and less trust in institutions, leading government’s legitimacy to weaken.
4. My healthcare: Rising costs for healthcare, and elderly population and economic decline lead to pressure on the welfare state. But also on solidarity. Other than that, there is a strong urge to ‘take matters in to their own hand’’: people are becoming more self-reliant. This indicates big reforms for the Dutch health-care sector.
5. The search for the perfect human: With technological and medical advancement, it seems that everyone nowadays is diagnosed and on some sort of treatment. Also, more and more people use medical treatments for non-medical (but ie esthetical) reasons. This is referred to as ‘human enhancement’.
6. Dealing with risks in society: There is a declining acceptance of risk in Dutch society. People expect more prevention from government, and if ‘something goes wrong’, they expect to be compensated for it by the government.
7. Mediatisation of society: The media are still gaining importance in our lives. There seems to be a merging between our ‘real’ and our ‘digital’ live. ‘Media logics’ have influences politics heavily and are the new battle arena in election-time.
8. New dividing lines in society: In the next 15 years, education level will be the most determining ‘division’ between groups in society. This will lead to bigger contrast between perspectives in society. Government tends to contribute to the contrast, since most political active people and government employees tend to be of the same, higher educated, social group.
9. Converging technologies : The convergence of nano-, bio-, information- and cognitive technologies enables us to ‘interfere’ with matter and systems at an incredible small level. It also leads to a ‘makeability’ of living organisms, like humans and the human brain.
10. Fight for what the earth has to offer: There is a shortage of several very important natural resources, like oil, water and certain metals, at hand. This leads to geopolitical and economical tensions on an international level.
11. Changing climate and diminishing biodiversity: As a result of our over-use of ecosystems, we will have to deal with the consequences of climate change and diminishing biodiversity. This might have implications for our food and water supply, economies, physical safety and health.
(Geo) Political trends
12. World Systems in motion: The focus of the political and economic power is gradually shifting from countries to the North Atlantic to the Pacific and the Indian Ocean and South America. The economic, political, and military influence of the EU is decreasing in this new geopolitical relations.
13. Denser world: Globalisation will lead to more international interdependence on many aspects: economic, political, social, cultural and so on.This means that we will more easily and rapidly face consequences from *(economic) crises elsewhere and also we have to stay sharp to be able to compete with other countries and regions.
14. Europe under pressure: The euro and the measures necessary for stable economic and monetary union, already lead to political tensions within and between Member States of the European Union. The further integration -needed to create economic stability- encounters increasingly political resistance within the Member States. Europe is increasingly a subject of socio-cultural defined polarization and ‘identity politics’.
15 New geopolitical balance: Emerging economies, such as China, India and Brazil, seem to be winning terrain in political, economic and military dominance over the U.S. and Europe. Therefore the international system is in a transition. The boundaries between international cooperation and national and regional competition should be re-evaluated. It affects the economic, political and security environment in Europe in the long term.
16. Economic dynamics: The recovery of the Dutch economic growth depends very much on the developments within the EU. The interconnectedness of financial systems and the fact that Europe is (by far) our major trading partner, makes us vulnerable to and affected by developments across the border.
17. Rise of the knowledge economy: Ours is becoming a knowledge economy, where the production of goods and provision of services rely heavily on the highly developed cognitive and social skills of the labour force.