Futurists associated with the Millennium Project this week released the 2011 State of the Future Report, an annual report that indicates each year where humanity is winning or losing on global challenges such as energy, food and water. According to the report:
The world is getting richer, healthier, better educated, more peaceful, and better connected and people are living longer, yet half the world is potentially unstable.
Jerome Glenn, Executive Director of the Millennium Project, told EarthSky:
We – humanity as a whole – are winning more than we are losing, as measured by 28 variables developed through a global participatory process.
The Millennium Project operates as an independent, non-profit network of 40 “nodes” in total, consisting of about 2,500 people in 38 countries. Since 2009, the Millennium Project has overseen the process that creates the State of the Future Report, and publishes it.
But the process for creating the annual State of the Future Report has been evolving since 1996, when the American Council of the United Nations University released the first one.
In 1997, futurists associated with the report defined 15 Global Challenges, which have been tracked since then.
To create the 2011 State of the Future Report, the Millennium Project oversaw an international Delphi panel, which selected more than 100 indicators of progress or regress for the 15 Global Challenges. The Delphi method is a forecasting method that seeks to reach a “correct” answer through consensus. It is based on the results of questionnaires sent to a panel of experts. Several rounds of questionnaires are sent out, and the anonymous responses are aggregated and shared with the group after each round.
Indicators were chosen that had at least 20 years of reliable historical data and more, where possible. The resulting 28 variables were integrated into the State of the Future Index with a 10-year projection. A year-by-year comparison of the trends provides a score card on how humanity is dealing with its challenges.
The 2011 State of the Future Report states:
The world is in a race between implementing ever-increasing ways to improve the human condition and the seemingly ever-increasing complexity and scale of global problems.
Bottom Line: The 2011 State of the Future report shows humanity is winning more than we are losing on global challenges vital to its prospects, according to the Millenium Project.
Jorge Salazar has conducted thousands of in-depth interviews with scientists in the process of creating science content for EarthSky. He also helps host the 90-second EarthSky podcasts. Jorge has a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He knows a lot about a lot of different things. For EarthSky, he has explored subjects as diverse as nanotechnology, ecosystem-based management, climate change, global health, international environmental treaties, astrophysics and cosmology, and environmental security. His penetrating research style, poetic writing, and ability to track down and speak with Nobel prize-winning laureates, all make him a huge asset to EarthSky.