There are lots of ways you could summarise the most pressing questions of this century and draw up a list of priorities. The UN’s post-2015 agenda is one example, outlining a to-do list to replace the Millennium Development Goals. Here’s another, taken from the State of the Future report by the Millennium Project. They update their list of 15 questions every year, producing regular reports on progress.
What I like about the list is that the issues overlap. They are interdependent, and progress or deterioration on one challenge affects the others. “Arguing whether one is more important than another is like arguing that the human nervous system is more important than the respiratory system” as they say on the website.
Here’s a pictorial summary, and since it’s not immediately clear what the challenges are from a one-word summary, they’re in question form below.
1. How can sustainable development be achieved for all while addressing global climate change?
2. How can everyone have sufficient clean water without conflict?
3. How can population growth and resources be brought into balance?
4. How can genuine democracy emerge from authoritarian regimes?
5. How can policymaking be made more sensitive to global long-term perspectives?
6. How can the global convergence of information and communications technologies work for everyone?
7. How can ethical market economies be encouraged to help reduce the gap between rich and poor?
8. How can the threat of new and re-emerging diseases and immune micro-organisms be reduced?
9. How can the capacity to decide be improved as the nature of work and institutions change?
10. How can shared values and new security strategies reduce ethnic conflicts, terrorism, and the use of weapons of mass destruction?
11. How can the changing status of women help improve the human condition?
12. How can transnational organized crime networks be stopped from becoming more powerful and sophisticated global enterprises?
13. How can growing energy demands be met safely and efficiently?
14. How can scientific and technological breakthroughs be accelerated to improve the human condition?
15. How can ethical considerations become more routinely incorporated into global decisions?