Using a strategic foresight approach, this study identifies megatrends and plausible future scenarios for living, working and investing in regional Australia in 2040.

The challenge

Disruptive global change

Australia is a vast and varied country and this diversity is reflected in its regions. There will be no single future for regional Australia, which means that we will need to consider multiple plausible scenarios to help prepare our regions for 2040 and beyond. These changes include, but are not limited to: the disruptive potential of increasing automation in regional industries; the growing significance of the Asia-Pacific region as a market for regional Australia; the increasing global demand for more and cleaner energy; and, the demand for higher educational attainment, and the growth in the knowledge and enabling services economy. However, the benefits of these changes are not being spread evenly between communities, places or industries, creating both opportunities and challenges for regional Australia.

Our response

Analysing trends to forecast future scenarios

In collaboration with the Australian Government's Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, and the participation of experts from Australian universities, industries and governments, this study used a strategic foresight approach to identify megatrends and plausible future scenarios for living, working and investing in regional Australia in 2040. We analysed in detail the social, economic, environmental, technological and institutional trends that have played out in Australia, and internationally, in past decades and which affect the regions and their development.

The results

Implications for policy and decision-makers

The Strategic foresight for regional Australia: Megatrends, scenarios and implications report describes four scenarios developed to characterise regional Australia in 2040: Natural advantage; Holding ground, Global niche, and Fast and flexible.

The scenarios will help governments to determine how best to connect regional Australia through investment in infrastructure, communications and trade relationships. They will also help to consider the training and education needs for the jobs and industries of the future; and assist government with other regional stakeholders to consider how to best grow regional economies and improve the well-being of regional communities.

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