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If we want to know what the future holds, looking at megatrends is the place to start

Megatrends are the largest influences of change worldwide. They are the major changes in environmental, social and economic conditions which change the ways we live.

 

In 2012, CSIRO identified seven megatrends including greater demand for resources, threats to the natural environment, impact of Eastern economic trends on the West, expanding technologies, disruption and the service economy, new technological markets and our aging population.

 

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Asia’s growing middle class is a source of economic opportunity for Australia.

 

While these trends help us identify what might happen in the future, we’re already seeing the impact of multiple megatrends emerging at varying times in Australian towns and cities.

 

The expanding ways we use smartphones have seen the rise of new markets including Uber, Airbnb and online shopping. These new markets have altered the economy by changing the way we source goods and services.

 

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Smartphones have enabled new markets to disrupt the service economy.

 

As planners, we must understand these megatrends, their implications for people, and how they will shape our towns and cities into the future.

 

Part of my role as Chief Planner includes engaging with NSW local councils, government agencies and corporate groups to highlight the potential opportunities and capitalise on these global changes and the impact they could have for NSW, our regions, cities and people.

 

The Department of Planning and Environment considers the implications of some megatrends when developing regional plans.

 

The Hunter Regional Plan highlights the region’s opportunity to leverage growth of Asia’s middle class as a source of economic development. This opportunity opens agricultural, mining, education and training opportunities which are supported by Newcastle Airport and sea ports, which link Newcastle with the world.

 

Supporting these opportunities with transport and freight connectivity means international tourists and students have access to the region, and direct exports to Asia.

 

Over the next year, I’ll explore the impact of different megatrends including local impacts and micro responses to highlight how these influence our communities.

 

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Gary White
DP&E Chief Planner

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