Looking back 30 years… from 2045

This blog so far has looked at issues in development and aid that we face here and now, dilemmas and debates which we are engaging with currently. But what does the future actually bring? This post shoots into the future to look back on 2015 and what has been accomplished since…

December 4th, 2045

In the last 30-odd years, the human population has increased by a third of what it was in 2015 (we now stand at over 9billion). This has, of course, not come without its challenges. Everywhere but Europe has experienced a huge growth in population – it is still true in the world’s poorer countries that population grows faster than in the richer.

population projection guardian
2015 projection of population growth, The Guardian

With all these people now on the planet, a shift in power has occurred. Although the US has more or less maintained its position of power, due to its foundations laid in the 1940s (before any other country was able to), a reversal of the East-West divide appears to be slowly taking place as the world has been forced to pull together, as strains on our environment have become increasingly worse (more rapidly than leaders in decades past wished to acknowledge). This is one of the few positive outcomes, however aspects of recent history are, of course, not easily overlooked. Arabic countries, for example, are still very much angered by the way in which Europe responded to religious extremists’ acts of terror, for example, and resentment also still lies from the exploitation of their resources for oil.

Over 30 years ago, we found out that there was enough ‘clean’ energy to power the world times over:

However, the drive of the fossil fuel companies and investors is still relentless, and despite a rise in renewable energy use, “even in 2030, the great powers […] still seek much of their energy [in fossil fuels]” (Morris, 2011). We rely on power which is not only finite, but horrendously damaging and even conflict-provoking.

While our climate has degraded, it is possible to say that other areas are (luckily) improving. The public have come to realise that they must demand information on their governance and revenues, becoming ambassadors of informed citizenry as Paul Collier encouraged (see his TED talk here). Due to this, the global poverty gap has been reduced as governments, and, in turn, charity and international organisations, have come to realise the need for clear, honest governance – creating environments of “good governance”, where many have claimed that development happens easiest. This reduction of the poverty gap has allowed the gender gap to reduce alongside it – “multiple studies have shown that healthy and educated women are more likely to have healthier and more educated children, creating a positive, virtuous cycle for the broader population” (Schwab, 2014). As misogynistic mindsets break down, I have seen a slow but definite change for women worldwide, progressing towards equality. While there is in no way a complete sense of equilibrium, what has developed is a much wider-spread sense of empowerment than that which existed 30 years ago, as gender equality movements (which, people are realising, do encompass all social rights) have spread across the world like wildfire.

The last 30 years have shown two major forms of development: a positive, social kind, and a negative, environmental kind. What remains is to understand how we may change the latter, to create a harmonious future of stability and equality in all aspects – a future that many would have guessed that we had reached by now, but much change is yet to come.


Carrington, D. (2014) ‘World population to hit 11bn in 2100 – with 70% chance of continuous rise’ The Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/18/world-population-new-study-11bn-2100 (Accessed: 6.12.15)

Jones, S. & Anderson, M. (2015) ‘Global population set to hit 9.7 billion people by 2050 despite fall in fertility’ The Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/29/un-world-population-prospects-the-2015-revision-9-7-billion-2050-fertility (Accessed: 6.12.15)

Morris, I. (2011) ’20 predictions for the next 25 years’ The Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2011/jan/02/25-predictions-25-years (Accessed: 6.12.15)

‘Paul Collier: The Bottom Billion’ (2008) TED 2008. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_collier_shares_4_ways_to_help_the_bottom_billion/transcript?language=en (Accessed: 6.12.15)

Schwab, K.(2014) ‘The Global Gender Gap Report 2014’ World Economic Forum. Available at: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GGGR14/GGGR_CompleteReport_2014.pdf (Accessed: 6.12.15)

Weber, M. (2015) ‘Q&A with Mark Robinson: The Role of Good Governance in Sustainable Development’ World Resources Institute. Available at: http://www.wri.org/blog/2015/02/qa-mark-robinson-role-good-governance-sustainable-development (Accessed: 6.12.15)