22 January 2020

Just 20 years into the 21st Century, we have already seen remarkable changes that we could never have anticipated. We’ve come up with 20 predictions that explore what the next 20 years may have in store for your organisation.

Prediction 16

As the climate crisis continues, the regulatory response will shift markedly. Pollution, loss of biodiversity, drought and flooding all signal that the world is heading down an unsustainable path.

Pressure from scientists and civil society, as well as the commitments made at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015, are already driving a shift in policy. Now, regulation is set to move from revolving around voluntary actions and soft policy initiatives to a more strident approach. This will affect all industries.

While this trend will not be seen in every country, international pressure and the domino effect of countries adopting a new regulatory approach as they commit to becoming carbon neutral within 30 years – if not less – will see it spread rapidly.

Environmental impact will become the key regulatory factor across all industries – from the pollution emitted by the transport industry to the activities of financial services in investing in non-sustainable environmental activities – and this will transform our economy.

Meanwhile, new technologies will also help us monitor and manage environmental impact. Drones, sensors and AI will increasingly detect sources of pollution emission more accurately and quickly. AI will also help us to work out how to manage natural resources. We will be able to make regulatory changes quickly to reflect these real-time insights.

Trends in environmental regulation


Environmental regulation will become more strident. It will also be enforced more rigorously to ensure that environmental policy objectives are achieved.

This will lead to some businesses being forced to change the way they operate – and, more fundamentally, their business model and their strategy. New sustainable products, service lines and processes will emerge from this shift.

Organisations will move towards recycling, embrace renewable sources and work to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of their end-to-end processes and outputs.

Curious to find out what else could happen between now and 2040? Read our other predictions

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