; Population growth megatrend: ERM Sustainabilty Report 2017

Population growth

Unprecedented impacts across the globe

Andy Coates, Technical Director - Edinburgh, UK

More than 9 billion people are expected to be living on our planet by 2050. Much of this growth will occur in the world’s less developed regions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Lower rates of infant mortality and improved standards of living, including greater access to clean drinking water, are key factors behind the continuing population growth. With increased life expectancy, tomorrow’s population will not only be larger but also older. This demographic shift will create additional challenges, such as increased pressure on healthcare, eldercare and pensions.

Population growth interfaces with all the other megatrends and touches nearly every sector.

Andy Coates, Technical Director – Edinburgh, UK

Although population growth will be very visible in developing economies, such as India and Sub-Saharan countries, this does not mean only clients with operations in these geographies will be affected. As people become increasingly mobile and organizations become increasingly global or interdependent, population growth will impact every continent, every community and every business. Understanding and addressing these impacts, however, will be a significant challenge in itself.

Our ability to stop population growth is limited, but businesses and other institutions can minimize its negative effects while maximizing opportunities – and ERM has the technical expertise needed to help our clients manage these impacts. 

Strategic response

Carole Smets, Partner - Paris, France

Population growth creates both pressures and opportunities for our clients, particularly those in the agriculture, manufacturing and energy sectors. More people will mean more demand for goods and more available talent for the workforce, which will help propel growth and innovation. However, any investment in new products, transport methods and energy sources will need to be aligned with global, national and organizations’ collective and individual sustainability goals.

ERM is working with clients who are already responding to the challenges and opportunities linked to population growth. Infrastructure improvements, smart agriculture and national capital valuation are just some of the approaches being adopted by organizations in a bid to understand and manage the impact of greater demand on the planet’s resources.


Forming a strategic response to the business risks and opportunities of population growth helps organizations ensure they can fulfill their mission to their stakeholders.

Carole Smets, Partner - Paris, France
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