McKinsey Quarterly reports on the “currents that will make the world of 2015 a very different place to do business from the world of today.” Among those are these four with particular relevance to urban leaders:

Public-sector activities will balloon, making productivity gains essential. The unprecedented aging of populations across the developed world will call for new levels of efficiency and creativity from the public sector. Without clear productivity gains, the pension and health care burden will drive taxes to stifling proportions. [Note: That’s why the theme of “active living” will continue to appear on this blog.]

Technological connectivity will transform the way people live and interact. The technology revolution has been just that. Yet we are at the early, not mature, stage of this revolution. More transformational than technology itself is the shift in behavior it enables. We work not just globally but also instantaneously. We are forming communities and relationships in new ways. (Indeed, 12 percent of U.S. newlyweds last year met online.) More than two billion people now use cellphones. We now send nine trillion emails a year. We do a billion Google searches a day, more than half in languages other than English. For perhaps the first time in history, geography is not the primary constraint on the limits of social and economic organization.

The battlefield for talent will shift. Ongoing shifts in labor and talent will be far more profound than the widely observed migration of jobs to low-wage countries. The shift to knowledge-intensive industries highlights the importance and scarcity of well-trained talent. The increasing integration of global labor markets, however, is opening up vast new talent sources. The 33 million university-educated young professionals in developing countries is more than double the number in developed ones. For many companies and governments, global labor and talent strategies will become as important as global sourcing and manufacturing strategies.

Demand for natural resources will grow, as will the strain on the environment. As economic growth accelerates — particularly in emerging markets — we are using natural resources at unprecedented rates. Oil demand is projected to grow by 50 percent in the next two decades, and without large new discoveries or radical innovations, supply is unlikely to keep up. We are seeing similar surges in demand across a range of commodities. Water shortages will be the key constraint to growth in many countries. And one of our scarcest natural resources — the atmosphere — will require dramatic shifts in human behavior to keep it from being further depleted. Innovation in technology, regulation and the use of resources will be central to creating a world that can both drive robust economic growth and sustain environmental demands.

From CEOs For Cities new blog at