MILAN, Italy, Sept. 04, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The ecological transition is a priority shared by young people and Italian companies: 8 out of 10 young people and 6 out of 10 companies consider it to be the decisive factor for the transition to the society of the future. Young people also associate the priority for sustainability with an evolution of values that focuses on inclusiveness, a sense of community and the promotion of the common good. Furthermore, the priority assigned to the ecological transition by young people and businesses is linked to the fact that, for more than two-thirds of the country's businesses, the current economic model has not contributed to sustainable development, with 6 out of 10 businesses considering the attention paid to inclusiveness, economic growth, environmental protection and the resilience of production systems insufficient. Consistently 7 out of 10 young Italians think of the future with uncertainty.
“We are facing a technological and energy revolution. We have decided to make significant investments. We will have to spend more over the next two decades. Europe is at the centre of the decarbonisation policy. We need to create the investment and technology platforms to be world leaders like the USA and China.” These were the words of Nicola Monti, CEO of Edison, commenting on the study presented at the Cernobbio Forum with The European House - Ambrosetti, aimed at promoting strategic reflection on the evolutions that will shape the Society of the Future.
The study identified 3 megatrends that will impact the development of society until 2050: global geopolitical and economic dynamics, demography and technological evolution.
The most evident trend linked to the current geopolitical context concerns the new bipolarisation taking place in the international system between the Western bloc and the Sino-Russian bloc, plus a heterogeneous group of countries that prefer 'variable geometry' and multidimensional partnerships depending on the strategic interests at stake from time to time. This evolution of the international system also entails a reorganisation of global value chains, starting with the industrial sectors deemed strategic and technology-intensive. The current trend, therefore, appears to be the redefinition of international trade within a fragmented globalisation divided between geographical areas of competence.
At the same time, the demographic context is witnessing a combination of two different trends. On the one hand, a strong change in the demographic weights of the different regions of the world is becoming apparent; in particular, Europe's weight on the global population is expected to reach 7% by 2050, down 13 percentage points compared to 1960 and 2 percentage points compared to 2022. On the other hand, in mature economies, the demographic scenario also hints at an ageing population: in Italy the over-65 population is now 23.5% of the total and could rise to 34.9% of the total by 2050.
The third megatrend identified in the study concerns technological acceleration linked, first and foremost, to the increasingly pervasive process of digitalisation. In the most recent period, technological acceleration was associated with the development of generative Artificial Intelligence: ChatGPT was the fastest app to reach 100 million monthly users, taking only two months. The development of Artificial Intelligence has thus become a central issue in the international competitive scenario with all major countries striving to gain a competitive advantage from its application.
A further central issue that emerges from the study concerns the need to accelerate the pace of transition by maintaining a strong focus on the community, the territory and the public system. The urgency to act to reduce the distance between the desired future and the future realistically envisaged translates, among young people, into commitment and a sense of responsibility towards the community and the territory: 3 out of 4 young people see in the role of the public system (schools and institutions) a pillar of reference for the years to come. At the same time, companies are also facing change: almost 1 out of 2 companies is already carrying out plans to implement the ecological transition, yet a greater political commitment and institutional support for the transition is requested by 4 out of 10 Italian companies. Technology obviously plays a key role in this process of change: for more than 7 out of 10 young people, the digital world is an integral part of everyday life and a powerful tool for social interaction. However, in order to lead the change towards the '5.0 Society' – which places human wellbeing at the centre through technological convergence – a strengthening of the educational system is needed (for almost 2 out of 3 young people), with a greater focus on ethics, technology and sustainability issues as well as on technical skills (mentioned by almost 1 out of 2 companies), which are necessary to fully grasp the opportunities of the technological transition.
'The need to pursue sustainability and inclusiveness objectives makes energy a key factor in achieving an equitable and environmentally friendly future: suffice it to say that among the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations, 6 out of 17 (and 28 targets) are directly impacted by energy,' stressed Nicola Monti. “This crucial role”, he added, “will only intensify thanks to the frontiers opened up by research, innovation and investment: in fact, energy is already the leading economic sector at European and Italian level in terms of investment intensity (39% of the sector's added value in both cases, for a total value of €90 billion in the European Union)”.
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