Planning for the Future During Uncertainty

“At times of uncertainty planning for the future can be difficult, but is also vital. The Tamarack Institute has been undergoing an exciting process for considering our future this past year. This was driven by a new and expanded Board of Directors, and the important growth in our capacity to support communities and changemakers. We are working with our members, learners and the Board to identify our north star for the next ten years. One component of understanding Tamarack’s direction has been considering the impacts of major trends on our members, learners and our organization. Given that many organizations and communities are starting to envision their paths forward after COVID-19, we wanted to share some of what we have learned.

Please see our new article for a full review of the trends discussed below:

Significant Trends Impacting Canada’s Future looking to 2030

We reviewed a number of major documents focused on the economic, political, and social trends such as RBC’s Navigating the 2020sCanada 2030 from the Conference Board of Canada; The Brookfield Institute’s Turn and Face the StrangeCanadaNext from Ipsos and Canada Towards 2030; and Shell’s Future Scenarios. From reviewing these documents and others, we identified eight key areas of future trends that are worth considering for community changemakers:

  • Technological Change: impact on labour, privacy, technological fear, and isolation
  • Demographic Change: Canada becoming super-aged; Gen Z becoming adults; and the importance of new Canadians
  • Political Change: increasing polarization; commitment to SDGs; and fears of the world changing too fast
  • Environmental Sustainability: Impacts of climate change adaptation and mitigation, and resource limitations
  • Urbanization: Increasing suburban population with a drive toward smart cities and remote work
  • Shifts in Inequality: We could close gender wage gap by 2030, but inequality broadly continues to increase
  • Reconciliation: Canada must address the legacy of policy, legislation and injustices, which will have significant impacts
  • Economic Uncertainty: Economic growth will be slow; 49% of Canadians think the prospects for the world will be worse in ten years; and we will see a growth in purpose-driven businesses

Possible Responses to COVID-19

While it is important to consider the broad trends for the decade that emerged over the past few years, nothing in history can provide us parallels to understand the implications of COVID-19. That is because the sheer complexity of the social, political and economic systems that we now live in make comparisons of previous pandemics unrealistic. That being said, we are seeing some emerging trends worth considering:

  1. Highest economic policy uncertainty ever in Canada and USA
  2. Increasing debt for individuals and governments
  3. Major impacts on housing and energy
  4. Slowing down of immigration
  5. Magnified impacts of inequality
  6. Demonstrating the importance of resiliency and redundancies in our systems
  7. Renewed searches for connection and meaning for individuals and communities
  8. Opportunity for social and normative change to reinforce and support expertise, and community
  9. The response from communities and governments is offering a blueprint and possible multi-solves to address climate change and poverty
  10. New opportunities for the community sector

Many of these implications reinforce the trends discussed above, and some present opportunities for us to further our work. It will be important for changemakers to build on the positive responses coming from communities, while planning for impacts to our work as we navigate a new normal.

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