Considering the things seen this year, maybe I should wait until the end to make a list of future trends, but hey: it's about the future, right? There will always be something that diverges, even in 2023. And the major trends in the short term will not be distorted anyway.
After two years in which the world was literally "led" from a virus, today the main engine of the planet is a war. In the coming months, probably throughout 2023, the world will have to deal with the unknowns related to geopolitics. How will the Chinese "return" on the scene, the energy crisis, the climate crisis and other interconnected factors impact?
Here are ten themes and trends to keep an eye on in 2023.
1. Ukraine still central
Energy prices, inflation, interest rates, economic growth, the food crisis: all trends that depend on how the conflict goes in the coming months. Rapid progress by Russia or Ukraine could exacerbate the indicators, but a stalemate seems the more likely outcome.
Russia as well as NATO may also seek to prolong the conflict in the hope that energy shortages and perhaps political changes in America will undermine Western support for Ukraine.
2. Full blown recession
To balance the inflation brought pandemic and energy prices, the central banks of the main governments will raise interest rates, and the main economies will enter full recession.
If in the USA this situation could last relatively less, the European one will be much worse. And the effects will still be global.
3. Full throttle on the climate
The title I have given is intended to reflect the polarization of this trend. Countries that urgently need to secure their energy supplies will go back to consuming more fossil fuels. In the medium term, however, the war will accelerate the transition to alternative energies. In addition to wind and solar, nuclear and hydrogen will also benefit.
And maybe, just maybe, we'll finally start getting serious against the climate crisis.
4. China, beyond the peak the descent begins
In the spring of 2023, the Chinese population is expected to be surpassed by that of India, with about 1,43 billion inhabitants.
The demographic situation and the reduced growth as a result of Covid and economic sanctions are two major challenges for Xi Jinping: time to put aside (just for the moment) ideas of overtaking the USA?
5. America Broken Again
The heralded "red wave" of the Republicans in the midterm elections has not occurred. However, this does not change the substance of the facts: in the United States the social and cultural divisions they are stronger than ever. The country is practically split in two over abortion, guns and other burning issues.
The entrance of Donald Trump in the presidential race of 2024, made official just yesterday, he will throw more fuel on the fire.
6. Other possible conflicts
We are focusing our attention on the war in Ukraine, and perhaps someone is missing signs of risk in other parts of the planet. Historically, moments like these have always presented an opportunity to settle scores on a regional basis.
This is why I would have said to keep an eye on the area between Turkey and Syria (and clues in this direction are arriving in these days). Iran is also very restless, and we may see more provocations between the two Koreas, or more between China and Taiwan. In summary: there will be other months of high tension.
7. Variable geometries
Among the trends to observe, the most dynamic concerns strategic alliances. It will be a 2023 (but in general a near future) in which we will see a reshuffling of cards. NATO will welcome two more members. Will Saudi Arabia complete its BRICS membership?
Other variable alliances will be represented by the US plan to create different "clubs" of nations for specific objectives. I am thinking of the Quad and AUKUS, born to face the rise of China, and the I2U2 which brings together the USA, India, Israel and the United Arab Emirates around the theme of sustainability.
8. "Rebound" of travel and tourism
The decisive exit from the grip of Covid will push travelers to try to make up for lost time. Spending on tourism will almost regain 2019 levels (although prices will be partially due to inflation).
Overall, the recovery will not be total, however, especially in the business sector where perhaps business travel they will never return to pre-pandemic levels. There's Zoom, beauty.
9. More exams for the "metaverse"
After thud of Meta, with years and billions gone up in smoke, the idea of working and playing in virtual worlds will be challenged again.
In addition to the foreseeable change of strategy by Zuckerberg (within the framework of a more general rearrangement, perhaps even downsizing of Big Tech), 2023 will see the launch of the Apple's first headset which will show an authoritative "alternative" vision. Think different, right? Let's see what direction the virtual reality - augmented reality sector will take.
10. Trend crumbs
Small side notes: on the 2023 book, cryptocurrencies will be considered out (the dear Marco Camisani Calzolari, who always supported him). We will no longer have only NIMBYs (Not in my Backyard, those who don't want to experiment with energy solutions "in their garden") but YIMBYs will also emerge, more "optimistic" in hosting solutions. The "old" passwords will give way to passkeys, or other leaner and more secure authentication systems.
Trend of 2023, in conclusion
As widely predicted, the pandemic has changed the world, marking the end of a period of relative stability in geopolitics and economics. Today's world is much more confused between rivalries and upheavals of all kinds from the economy to the climate, via society.
The new stability? It's the instability. We also embrace this with confidence (it must never be missing) and buena suerte to all of us.