How today’s youth see our world in 2050

What would our world be like in 2050? Would our homes be underwater? Would our lives be ruled by artificial intelligence?

Such were the questions that participants in this competition explored as they mastered the art of scenario-building and used it to propose plausible futures.

For the fifth year running, Shell shares its rich experience in this field with 277 teams. These undergraduates were then tasked to envisage more and cleaner energy in an Asian or Middle Eastern city in 2050, and how it will change the way residents live, work and play.

Team Global Minds from Thailand were crowned champions this year with their scenarios on Hong Kong. Coming in second and third were Team Egypt and Team Singapore respectively.

Their scenarios are not a forecast and certainly not crystal-ball gazing. Meet the teams and learn more about their ideas:

Team AUC07 from The American University in Cairo
Team AUC07 from The American University in Cairo

Modern Atlantis vs Green Osiris by The American University in Cairo, Egypt

Could Alexandria avert the catastrophe of rising sea levels in 2050?

In a future where climate change is inevitable, the Egyptian team looked at variables such as the dominating economic systems, climate action, social well-being and digitalisation to formulate two scenarios on what the future will look like in Alexandria in 2050.

The first scenario is Modern Atlantis where conscious capitalism helps the environment recover and enhance individuals’ quality of life. Alexandria would be a low-carbon smart city, leveraging latest digitalisation trends and various renewable energy technologies. It would also become a cosmopolitan international hub as the hyperloop undersea grid system connects Alexandria and Mediterranean countries.

In the second scenario, Green Osiris, the international community adopts Eco-Socialism 2.0. Egypt, including Alexandria, would reach zero-net emissions through implementing progressive policies and utilising nuclear energy. The society would shift from hedonistic consumerism to a leisure-rich lifestyle that is filled with solidarity, curiosity and self-expression.

Team Bryan from Nanyang Technological University
Team Bryan from Nanyang Technological University

Sang Kancil vs Buto Ijo by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

What can Jakarta do to stay viable in 2050?

The Singapore team focused on how Jakarta could adapt to its twin problems of sinking and rising sea levels. Its plight reflects the effects of climate change that the world is facing, which could lead to major cities being submerged by 2050.

The Sang Kancil (Mousedeer) scenario depicts a Jakarta that is more resistant to land subsidence through policies, planning and technological advancements. It examines various approaches that could be adopted, from constructing engineering marvels to tackling systemic social issues, to overcome the subsidence inversion.

The Buto Ijo, (Green Giant) scenario imagines a Jakarta adapting to the new normal - of rising sea levels. It explores how foreign and domestic influences could help Jakarta to continue to stay relevant in 2050 despite the subsidence issue.

Team Global Minds from Carnegie Mellon University, University of British Columbia, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Oxford
Team Global Minds from Carnegie Mellon University, University of British Columbia, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Oxford

Modern Dragon vs Blind Falcon by Global Minds, Thailand

Will the “one country, two systems” arrangement expire in 2047, 50 years after Britain returned Hong Kong to China?

To address multi-dimensional challenges, the Thailand team put forth scenarios set in a 2050 Hong Kong.

In the Modern Dragon scenario, Hong Kong fits in seamlessly with China. An era of low taxation comes to an end, but residents enjoy the benefits of a strengthened welfare state. With an influx of investment in STEM to neighbouring Shenzhen, Hong Kong adds to that ecosystem by supplying skilled labour. It also becomes a quick adopter of new technologies and electric cars replace petrol-powered ones. Hong Kong will continue to maintain its distinctive identity as a port city, given its strategic proximity to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

On the contrary, in the Blind Falcon scenario, Hong Kong remains a Chinese special administrative region for another 50 years with people gradually accepting Beijing’s rule. However, the society remains divided in beliefs. Economically, Hong Kong maintains its status as the financial centre of Asia and becomes a hub for East-meets-West innovative collaborations.

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