Megatrends and Agenda 2030

The United Nations’ member states signed in 2015 the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mentioned in the Agenda were forged to tackle global challenges. Global challenges are linked with global change-related phenomena also known as megatrends.


Recognising the link between one's research and UN SDGs is one way of finding out what kind of societal impact research has. Societal impact in general is closely linked to recognised global trends and challenges. Research funders are also keen on aligning their top-down funding calls to tackle current grand challenges. Megatrends are change-related phenomena and transformative, global forces that define the future world with their far-reaching impacts on businesses, societies, economies, cultures, and personal lives. SITRA (The Finnish Innovation Fund) provides its own list of megatrends. In 2020, SITRA lists following update to megatrends:

  • Ecological reconstruction is a matter of urgency
  • Relational power is strengthening
  • The population is ageing and becoming increasingly diverse
  • The economy is seeking direction
  • Technology is becoming embedded in everything

Agenda 2030

Generally, climate change is probably the most topical megatrend, but also other phenomena such as population growth, increasing environmental pollution or global competition for resources can be recognised as megatrends. Megatrends are thus global challenges and the United Nations have responded to these challenges by signing Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. The Agenda 2030 is an action plan how to advance the UN SDGs and it is formed around 5 Ps:

People: “We are determined to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions, and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.”

Planet: “We are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.”

Prosperity: “We are determined to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.”

Peace: “We are determined to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.”

Partnership: “We are determined to mobilize the means required to implement this Agenda through a revitalised Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focussed in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people.”