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We live in tectonic times. We live in systemic times. We live at a time of deep interconnectedness. We live in times of fast, transformative, and even furious change. We live at a time of global systemic risk and opportunity. ESGT—environment, society, governance, and technology—issues, risks, and opportunities are more deeply (and more rapidly) interconnected and intertwined than ever before in human history, if even only because technology has become so intensely fast, disruptive, and life-changing—for both good and bad.

Why “ESGT” and why “megatrends”? Well, it has to do with having situational awareness, the best possible 360-degree view into what is going on in the world around us if we were capable of looking at it with a deeper and broader perspective—as if we lived in a space station, with some detachment and objectivity about our challenged blue planet riddled with ESGT challenges that we don’t always see (or refuse to see).

It’s about each of us as individuals, as workers, as students, as leaders—as global citizens—having a better sense and long-term understanding of where the trends that envelop us today came from and where they might be going (hence the nomenclature of “megatrends”). It is about leaders having a sense of scope and longitude, breadth and depth, in this otherwise seemingly chaotic but still magnificent world, if we only just worked better together to solve some of our deep challenges.

This is our first annual edition of the “ESGT Megatrends Manual” and it is intended as an annual check-in on the most important multi-year global megatrends involving ESGT issues—systemic, strategic, and more tactical—that should be top of mind for all leaders—whether in business, nonprofits or government, as they lead and participate in strategic and tactical risk and opportunity planning and implementation.

Each year, we will choose a handful of ESGT megatrends to analyze, citing some of the best and most useful data from premier global resources ranging from the World Economic Forum and major university research centers to the Edelman Trust Barometer, the Council on Foreign Relations, and other leading practical thought leadership resources. We will provide cases of both risk and opportunity, of downside and upside, that help illustrate these megatrends.

Our publication will come out closer to the middle of each year for two principal reasons: (1) megatrends don’t begin and end in a given year or calendar cycle—they are multi-year phenomena by definition and, (2) by not piling on other superb annual publications that coincide with year-end/year-beginning (e.g., the WEF’s Global Risk Reports, Edelman Trust Barometer, CFR’s Preventative Crisis Survey, Allianz Risk Barometer, and others) we intend to fully benefit from their wisdom and findings and pass them along through our ESGT Megatrends lens as we select and design the handful of most relevant ESGT Megatrends in the coming year (in this case 2021-2022). We are grateful to have the ability to quote these valuable resources.

Last, but not least, the ESGT Megatrends Manual is intended to be just that: a manual that any type of leader of any type of organization or sector can use and refer to, to provide context, critical situational awareness, and actionable ideas for strategy development and the creation of new and renovated services and products in the most resilient, sustainable, and pro-stakeholder way possible. Accordingly, each megatrend concludes with a section called “Leadership To-Do’s” and the Manual itself closes with a reprise of all such To-Do’s in what we are calling the Blueprint for 2021-2022 ESGT Megatrends.


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