Global Challenges for Humanity

The 15 Global Challenges have been identified and updated through an ongoing environmental scanning, Delphi process, expert opinions, and interviews since 1996. They represent a cumulative and distilled range of views from over 4,000 participants from around the world. Full details of the questionnaires and interview protocols that have been used from 1996 to 2009 to generate both the short and more detailed treatments of these Challenges are available in the Global Lookout section. Since 2010, The Millennium Project used a continuous online Real-Time Delphi process, environmnetal scanning, dedicate listserves, and the Global Futures Intelligence System (GFIS) for the continuous update of the Global Challenges.

The following diagram presents the process on how the 15 Global Challenges were identified and the continuous work ever since.

15GCs process


Short History:

1996-1997: The Millennium Project asked an international panel of eminent futurists, scholars, and decisionmakers which are the most important issues facing humanity. The process consisted of through literature review, several rounds of Delphi, and interviews. The results were 182 developments, with 131 actions to address them. For greater cohesion, these were distilled into 15 Global Issues.

1997-1998: Through a similar proces as in the previous year, The Millennium Project asked which are the most important opportunities facing humanity. The results were 180 developments, with 213 actions to address them. For greater cohesion, these were again distilled into 15 Global Opportunities. Note: the fact that the results were again 15 was pure concidence.

1998-1999: At the 1998 Millennium Project Planning Committee it was decided that the 15 Global Issues be merged with the 15 Global Opportunities, so that a more condesed list results with items to be followed through time to assess change -- progress or regress in different domains and the global situation as a whole. The result were the 15 Global Challenges with 213 actions to address them. Note: again, the number of 15 items and 213 actions was pure concidence; there was no previous number objectives set.

1999-2000: For better description and easier understanding, a structure was set for each Global Challenge: a general overview of the situation and potential trends; regional specifics and trends; actions to address the challenge; specific comments or relevant papers; indicators to follow progress.

2000-2001: The process for assessing progress on each challenge and the global future as a whole has been developed. A Delphi study was conducted to determine which are the best indicators to assess progress (or regress) for each challenge, and which are the best and worst values for those indicators in 10 years.
Ted Gordon developed the State of the Future Index (SOFI) , which integrates into one index the most relevant indicators to measure change of the global challenges. SOFI is a measure of the 10-year outlook for the future based on historical data for the last 20 years. It continues to be computed and developed ever since.

2001-2012: The updating of the Global Challenges contiued, being published in the annual State of the Future reports. For easier reading, a short overview of the challenges with regional considerations was published in the print sections of the report, while the increasingly detailed and more documented reserach was published in the CD accompaning the reports.
The SOFI also continued to be computed and further developed each year. Over the years, it has been improved by adding the Trend Impact Analysis, writing scnearios, and computation of national SOFIs for several countries.

Since 2012: the process of updating of the Global Challenges has been improved by completely moving it into cyberspace, as part of the Global Futures INtelligence System (GFIS) Here, each Challenge has a comprehensive menu (see below), refernces are linked directly to the source, and each challenge has a review panel that continuously updates the content and reviews the suggestions provided by other readers or participants. Therefore, the Global Challenges emerge as a global collective, independent, objective, and well-documented view of the world situation and perspective, with suggested actions to address them, sources for further details, relevant organizations and news sources, as well as the possibility of the public to contribute their own views or conduct dialog with experts on specific issues of interest.

SOFI continues to be computed each year. A Real-Time Delphi is conducted before each computation to collect opinions on the indicators and values to be included, as well as potential actions to improve the global future.


15 Global Challenges
facing humanity

15 global challenges

The 15 Global Challenges:

    1. How can sustainable development be achieved for all while addressing global climate change?

    2. How can everyone have sufficient clean water without conflict?

    3. How can population growth and resources be brought into balance?

    4. How can genuine democracy emerge from authoritarian regimes?

    5. How can decisionmaking be enhanced by integrating improved global foresight during unprecedented accelerating change?

    6. How can the global convergence of information and communications technologies work for everyone?

    7. How can ethical market economies be encouraged to help reduce the gap between rich and poor?

    8. How can the threat of new and reemerging diseases and immune micro-organisms be reduced?

    9. How can education make humanity more intelligent, knowledgeable, and wise enough to address its global challenges?

    10. How can shared values and new security strategies reduce ethnic conflicts, terrorism, and the use of weapons of mass destruction?

    11. How can the changing status of women help improve the human condition?

    12. How can transnational organized crime networks be stopped from becoming more powerful and sophisticated global enterprises?

    13. How can growing energy demands be met safely and efficiently?

    14. How can scientific and technological breakthroughs be accelerated to improve the human condition?

    15. How can ethical considerations become more routinely incorporated into global decisions?

To read an overview of each of the Challenges, please see the Global Futures Intelligence System at and select “15 Global Challenges”. Each Challenge has the following menu:
1. Situation Chart: Current situation, desired situation, and policies to address the gap
2. Report: Short overview as presented in this chapter, but continuously updated, followed by detailed content, suggested actions, and other relevant information, totalling some 100–300 pages (depending on the Challenge)
3. Digest: Dashboard-like display of latest information related to the Challenge
4. Updates: Latest edits to the reports and situation charts
5. Scanning: Important information that impacts the Challenge
6. News: Latest news relevant to the Challenge
7. Real-Time Delphi: Questionnaire software that lets users ask questions at any time and define sub-questions
8. Discussion: A blog-like area where subscribers and reviewers discuss issues they would like to explore
9. Comments: comments made by users on any part of the system, organized by time
10. Models: Interactive computer models that can show trends of the Challenge
11. Questions: Suggested questions to experts
12. Resources: Collection of websites, books, videos, presentations, and papers/articles relevant to the respective Challenges

Subcribers have access to the entire menu listed above, to discussions, as well as the entire research of The Millennium Project since 1996.