The chief economists from the UN System have come together to examine five human-made megatrends which continue to dominate and frustrate global efforts to put the world on a more sustainable and prosperous path. The trends identified are climate change and nature degradation, inequalities, urbanization, rapid population changes and technological revolution which continue to affect economic, social, and environmental outcomes.
Issued on the eve of the 75th UN General Assembly, the UN Economist Network’s report calls for a new, holistic way of designing policies in the 75 years to come. It argues for greater cooperation across seemingly unrelated areas, such as digitalization, urban planning and energy production, traditionally too often approached in isolation. The report, “Shaping the Trends of Our Time,” finds that five years into the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda, progress is already off-track and, in many instances may have even been reversed by the COVID-19 crisis.
According to the report, without an overhaul of the currently disjointed policymaking, the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is highly unlikely. Policies can influence a single megatrend as well as other megatrends that interact with it. Such policy interventions can propel more effective, mutually reinforcing changes and significantly greater impacts across the different megatrends.
By making the right choices today, without further delay, it is not too late to shape the major trends of our time in a direction that is sustainable and delivers benefits to all. The report stresses that international cooperation, and the United Nations, have a crucial role in framing the responses to the global megatrends, by encouraging domestic political consensus for sustained action. The United Nations can assist in mobilizing needed global support for individual countries, particularly those with fewer resources.
About the United Nations Economists Network
The UN Economists Network is a global network, led by the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist, Elliott Harris, to facilitate collaboration and joint work among UN system entities on issues of shared interest and relevance to the sustainable development agenda and to provide a network of support on economic, financial, and social policy issues to Resident Coordinator Offices and United Nations Country Teams.