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May 16, 2014

Megatrends Require Innovation, Study Says

Megatrends Require Innovation, Study Says

A new European study on urban megatrends and future challenges forecasts greater economic gaps between rich and poor and between east and west, and an increasing focus on science and technology as the most promising avenue to ease these strains.The Urban Megatrend Project is set to publish a study in May identifying trends and challenges confronting Europe from now until 2050. Preliminary results were revealed at a meeting recently in Brussels by the Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) Urban Europe.

Findings focus on a few key challenges:

  • The European population is ageing and, as a result, wage earners comprise a dwindling share of society. This is exacerbating the growing income gap between rich and poor.
  • Central and Eastern Europe will continue to lose working-age people due to economic migration to the West. This will exacerbate socioeconomic tensions in eastern cities while mitigating them in western cities.
  • In terms of economy, Europe will be increasingly challenged by competitors in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). The study recommends a focus on the development of services, technology and innovation as a way to sustain Europe's economy in the coming decades.
  • Climate change will have different impacts around Europe, with Atlantic Coast communities threatened by increasing storm surges; Mediterranean and Balkan countries experiencing more Africa-like temperatures; and riverside populations facing more floods. Alpine, Baltic and Scandinavian countries will be far less exposed to these threats.