For the first time in over 40 years the "Club of Rome" published
a report forecasting the economic, social and
environmental state of the world. Under the title "2052: A Global
Forecast for the Next Forty Years", Jorgen Randers from the
Norwegian School of Management led a research effort that warns of
"the possibility that humankind might not survive on the planet if
it continues on its path of over-consumption and
The Club of Rome is a non-profit organization
founded in 1968. Nowadays, it consists of 100 intellectuals from
over 30 national and regional associations. The publication of its
most recent study directly precedes the upcoming United Nations
Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in Brazil.
Predictions by the report
The report makes a number of remarkable predictions regarding
fundamental characteristics of the world in 2052. Speaking at the
presentation of the report in Rotterdam, Professor Sanders said
that "we need a system of governance that takes a more long-term
view. It is unlikely that governments will pass necessary
regulation to force the markets to allocate more money into climate
friendly solutions, and we must not assume that markets will work
for the benefit of humankind."
- Global population will peak at 8.1 billion humans in 2042,
because of falling fertility in urban areas.
- Worldwide GDP will grow slower than expected. In 2050, global
GDP will only 2.2 larger than today.
- Productivity gains will also be lower than in the past as many
economies will reach their maximum capacity and social and climate
disruptions will impede further advancements.
- Developed rich countries like the U.S. will increasingly have
to deal with greater poverty and income inequality following the
"triumph of financial capitalism". Brazil, Russia, India, South
Africa and ten leading emerging economies (referred to as 'BRISE'
in the Report) will progress. All countries will face consequences
from a deteriorating environment.
- There will still be 3 billion poor in 2052.
- CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere will continue to grow and
cause +2°C in 2052; temperatures will reach +2.8°C in 2080, which
may well trigger self-reinforcing climate change.
The way forward
Apart from forecasting these fundamental variables, the report
also offers a way forward. What goals should be pursued to create a
"sustainable, equitable and 'happier' world"?
- Societal values, which are essential for a sustainable and
equitable society, are fully reflected in all economic
- The economies of the world reflect the value of natural and
social capital, markets operate in a fair and transparent manner
and deliver the goods and services required for a sustainable
- A more equitable distribution of income both within and between
- Access to meaningful work, which provides enough income to lead
a decent life, is guaranteed and recognized as an essential human
right. Job generation has become a top priority for all
investments, costs for unemployment are considered in
- Ecology is seen as a binding constraint for all forms of human
activity and is
therefore managed in a manner which reflects its biophysical
and economic value. Never should the world be in overshoot.
- Appropriate governance systems at a local, national and global
level, which can manage the transition into an equitable and
sustainable global world, are established.