Based on a survey of almost 1,800 experts from the World Economic Forum’s Network of Global Agenda Councils, as well as other communities within the forum, on what they believe will preoccupy leaders over the coming 12 to 18 months, the Outlook on the Global Agenda 2015 was published in November.

The Top 10 trends for 2015 are:

1. Deepening income inequality

2. Persistent jobless growth

3. Lack of leadership

4. Rising geostrategic competition

5. Weakening of representative democracy

6. Rising pollution in the developing world

7. Increasing occurrence of severe weather events

8. Intensifying nationalism

9. Increasing water stress

10. Growing importance of health in the economy

Inequality and unemployment at the top of the list shows they are viewed even more severely than previous years, with stagnating wages contributing to a vicious cycle of entrenched inequality through weak growth and employment prospects.

Besides economic challenges, two trends that have not appeared in the outlook since its launch in 2010 are the rise of geostrategic competition (fourth) and intensifying nationalism (eighth). This suggests both increasing fragmentation of international politics and a backlash against globalization. The growing severity of these economic and political trends perhaps explains the rising prominence of lack of leadership, which has climbed from seventh last year to third for 2015.

Leaders are also facing environmental worries, such as rising pollution in developing nations, increased severe weather and water stress as severe concerns.

Rounding out the Top 10 trends is the increasing importance of health in the economy, which is indicative of the link between a healthy population and a healthy economy. It also highlights the difficulties many health systems face adapting to demographic change, rises in non-communicable diseases and other concerns. However, it also represents an opportunity for leaders, with technology opening up possibilities for better, more cost effective health care, which could in turn lead to sustainable economic growth and greater prosperity.

This text is an edited excerpt of an article from the official website of the World Economic Forum. For more information, see www.weforum.org

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