Key global environmental trends

Global trends impacting on the world, industry, and business

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -”
― Heraclitus

Everything changes, always. But is that a good or a bad thing? That of course depends on your outlook on society and your own place in it. Change can be a threat to your position in life or it can provide new opportunities for you, if you know how to use them.
The European Environment Agency has put out a report entitled:

Drivers of change: challenges and opportunities for sustainability in Europe

In this they list some of the current “drivers of change” that they gather into four main categories:

1.     Global megatrends are global, long‑term trends that are slow to form but have a major impact once in place. They are the great forces that are likely to affect the future in all areas throughout the world over the next 10 to 15 years. Furthermore, they are often strongly interconnected.
2.     European trends are mid to long term trends specific to Europe and contrary to global megatrends, not all of them are likely to have major implications at global scale. They are directly or indirectly interconnected and connected to global megatrends. Their direction of change can be aligned or contrasting to global megatrends (a stagnating European population in contrast to a growing global population).
3.     Emerging trends represent emerging developments that are occurring at a fast pace but are not yet fully established over mid to long term timescales, and for this reason their potential implications are not yet well understood. Depending on their evolution, they might lead to the establishment of new European trends or global megatrends.
4.     Wild cards are developments that may seem unlikely or unimaginable at present but could occur in the future, and, if they do, they are likely to bring about disruptive changes.
We are constantly subjected to these trends and the changes they bring with them. This can vary greatly from country to country or region to region, but it is important to keep up to date, and be aware of them.

Currently these changes happen in “Clusters” and the paper identifies these as:

Cluster 1 - Growing urbanisation and migrating global population
Cluster 2 - Climate change and environmental degradation worldwide
Cluster 3 - Increasing scarcity of and global competition for resources
Cluster 4 - Accelerating technological change and convergence
Cluster 5 - Power shifts in the global economy and geopolitical landscape
Cluster 6 - Diversifying values, lifestyles and governance approaches



Particularly cluster 4: “Accelerating technological change and convergence” can be of interest when looking at the new opportunities for job creation and new types of employment. The Virtual Assistant concept is very much a product of “The Industry 4.0” revolution that we are seeing in these years.

The Virtual Assistant concept also dovetails with Cluster 2: “Climate Change” and Cluster 6: “Diversification”.


Global, European, and national initiatives designed to promote sustainable environmentally friendly practices and policies

Can we plan for change?

The question that inevitably pops up when discussing change is: How do we prepare for it? How do we educate our students if the jobs they are going to get aren’t even invented yet? How can we go on using the natural resources we have if they will run out in a few years?

The logical answer to these questions is normally “Innovation!” We have to be able to figure it out when the problems arise, if not before.


The EU Report: “Sustainability transitions: policy and practice” indicates that innovation is the key response to the challenges of the future.

But the report also acknowledges that innovation and entrepreneurship is not moving fast enough in the EU, partly due to rigid rules in the EU single market:

The European Commission acknowledges the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship but notes that Europe does not perform very well in these areas: 'Disruptive and breakthrough innovations are still too rare in Europe … Too few European start-ups survive beyond the critical initial phase of 2-3 years. Of those that make it beyond that point, too few end up growing into larger firms and scaling up globally' (EC, 2018f).

Source: EEA Report No 09/2019Sustainability transitions: policy and practice

Most of the large-scale programmes to further sustainable production are targeting the energy sector and the methods of production. Change in consumer demand and new ways of structuring the workforce are primarily taking place on a grassroot level, but the scale and impact of this is not enough to reach sustainability.


Case: Ann Read - Virtual Assistant
Ann Read writes on how being a Virtual Assistant helps the environment:

“Being mindful about our environment is more important than ever before. The effects of climate change are on everyone’s minds with governments and world leaders trying to come up with sustainable suggestions. Remote working could greatly help reduce climate change and protect our environment.”

6 reasons why hiring a Virtual Assistant is good for the environment:

Case: The Environmental Impacts of Remote Work: Stats and Benefits

Here is a list of the potential environmental impact by shifting from a Commuter job to working at home.
Reflect on the Change clusters for a minute.
As a VA you are a part of the change we see in the world.
“Industry 4.0” means that the future job market is just being developed but VAs are here to stay.
There are lots of opportunities to be a successful, self-employed, working from home, specialist in the future job market. So, you just have to decide if this can work for you.
Take the test

What will your job be in the future?

Take the quiz and see what kinds of jobs will be available to you in the future:

MyVA Project number: 2020-1-SE01-KA226-VET-092491
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. 
The European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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