Nine trends to watch in 2017

Resource / Nine trends to watch in 2017

By Futures Centre / 23 Dec 2016

Our newly published Sustainable Business Outlook 2017 takes a look at nine shifts that are particularly dynamic right now and are changing the game for sustainability.

How prepared do you feel for these trends and the new world that awaits?

Click on the nine items below to discover what they mean for business and sustainability.

Nine trends to watch in 2017



Brexit and the US elections shocked the world this year and exposed a populist response to rising inequality. With 62 individuals owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion in 2015, it's clear the wealth gap is growing. Meanwhile many groups such as women, LGBTQ and African Americans still fight for equal rights.


Extreme ocean stress
Pollution, overfishing, sea-level rise and warming temperatures are combining to make ocean stress second only to climate change as an environmental issue. With nearly every aspect of the global economy linked to the sea, ocean stress has serious consequences.

Staying within 1.5°C
At current estimates, we have less than five years at current emissions to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C. Climate change is going to fundamentally reshape the operating context for all companies. Every business must prepare for volatile and disruptive times ahead.

Energy Transformation
The shift to renewable energy is gaining momentum, with coal production plummeting and the cost of solar and wind falling. Meanwhile, electric vehicles and energy storage solutions are on the rise. What could this mean for your business?

Green China
With a booming renewables market, a commitment to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, and having formally adopted the Paris Agreement, China looks set to become a global leader on climate change. The pull of the Middle Kingdom for sustainable innovation has never been stronger.

Blockchain, the free-to-access, unchangeable public record allowing value and information to be transferred securely and transparently without a third party, has captured wide attention this year. The potential for sustainability is huge, as organisations like Provenance are showing, with the potential to shake up supply chains and transparency across sectors.

Citizen Innovation
While citizens have been innovating for decades, the vast increase in information access, software and digital tools means the ability to communicate and collaborate on ideas is unprecedented. Citizen innovators have the means and the motivation to tackle sustainability challenges - understanding and forging relationships with them will be vital.

Beyond Meat
Our Protein Challenge has sought to find solutions to providing affordable, sustainable protein for all, much of which must come from plant-based sources. As the trend for 'flexitarian' diets and concern over the true cost of meat grows, how will changing attitudes and resource constraints affect business?

New developments in applying science and technology to living organisms is both opening up new opportunities and raising tricky ethical questions. With CRISPR making gene editing faster, cheaper and more accurate, biotech is going to be a game changer for everything from apparel and food to health and pharmaceuticals.

How prepared do you feel for these trends and the new world that awaits? Has this report highlighted new challenges for you? If so, we’d love to help you create opportunities to transform whole systems and sectors.

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What might the implications of this be? What related resources have you seen?

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