Since our first set of  Drivers of Change cards, printed in 2006,  we have been producing an ongoing series of publications that deal with key issues affecting the future of the built environment. The intention is for these cards to act as a trigger for discussion, further research and reflection about our future. Each set of cards is arranged and presented within societal, technological, economic, environmental and political domains that together are known as a the STEEP framework.

What will our world be like in 2050? This set of cards identifies some of the leading drivers of change that affect our future.

Each card depicts a single driver. A factoid and rhetorical question are on one face, backed up by a brief indication of the breadth and depth of the content on the other face. The set was devised by the Foresight & Innovation team at Arup, a group tasked with exploring emerging trends and how they impact upon business of Arup and its clients. The publication serves not only as a vibrant visual record of research, but also as a tool for discussion groups, personal prompts, for workshop events or as a “thought for the week”.

Published by Prestel, 2009. Available at

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  • Publications


    drivers of change: convergence

    Convergence has consistently been mentioned in workshops as a Driver of Change. These cards cover the combination of sectors to create new businesses, the merging of sciences with other disciplines and the convergence of technology.

  • Publications


    drivers of change: oceans

    The oceans cover over 70% of the planet and are critical to life on Earth. The oceans drive almost every natural system on the planet, including carbon absorption, oxygen exchange, nutrient cycling, temperature regulation, hydrological cycles and other crucial systems.

  • Publications


    drivers of change: food

    … identifies key drivers associated with food. Expanding scale is threatening food quality and sustainability; food now accelerates, rather than protects against, social and ecological decline.

  • Publications


    drivers of change: poverty

    … identifies key drivers associated with poverty. We identify poverty drivers that are cross-cutting and not unique to particular contexts, countries or regions.

  • Publications


    drivers of change: energy

    … identifies key drivers that affect the future of energy with a particular focus on primary energy sources. They include fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) and renewable (wind, biomass and solar).

  • Publications


    drivers of change: urbanisation

    … identifies some of the leading drivers linked to urbanisation. Half the world’s population is now urban, and this proportion, particularly in India and China, is rapidly increasing.

  • Publications


    drivers of change: demographics

    … identifies drivers connected to the dynamics of human populations, including their size and characteristics in the different geographies of the world.

  • Publications


    drivers of change: water

    … deals with drivers affecting water, perhaps the most crucial issue that we all need to be aware of and to value in order to survive.

  • Publications


    drivers of change: climate change

    … describes drivers associated with climate change that could make the world of the next few decades very different to that of today. It includes the potential impacts of climate change as well as possible solutions.

  • Publications


    drivers of change: waste

    … identifies drivers associated with waste. “Waste” is a human concept meaning unwanted or undesired material, which does not exist in natural processes. Changing our attitude to waste will affect its future.