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It has been a tricky couple of years predicting what will happen next. We have all had to get used to living with increased levels of uncertainty. Dates have been added to calendars with the only certainty being that, well, they almost certainly would shift. When we put together the previous issue of The Forecast a year ago, I don’t think many of us thought that whole parts of the globe would still be sequestered away like secret kingdoms some 12 months later. 

Somehow, however, we have learned to roll with the challenges, get around the barriers on our paths and, finally, as we prepare for 2022, things do seem a little clearer. Sure, the pandemic is not over but the social anxiety that it triggered has abated. And some of the crazier predictions about what would happen to the world and the ways that we would work and live are at last being revealed as nonsense.

But one thing that has stuck is the discussion around where, and how, people want to live. Look, we’re not buying into the story that our big cities will go into a tailspin of terminal decline because of homeworking but what we do believe is that people want to be in cities that sustain them. 

That means places with easy mobility, a good dose of culture, a welcoming embrace for start-ups, access to nature and, crucially, places that know how to let their guard down and have fun. And it’s often easier for more compact places to deliver all of the things on that list. That’s why it’s great to see the Small Cities Index again in The Forecast. This is a survey that we hope will encourage a few people to up sticks for a better way of living and others to challenge their city authorities to raise their game when it comes to urbanism.

We’re not buying into the story that our big cities will go into a tailspin of terminal decline because of homeworking but what we do believe is that people want to be in cities that sustain them

Another noteworthy piece of rewiring that’s happened because of the pandemic is that money is being made available to kick-start economies and some of these schemes are supercharging the redevelopment of previously neglected regions. That’s certainly the case in Italy, where the south of the country will benefit from EU largesse as well as from the creation of high-speed rail links. That’s why we headed to Puglia, Campania and Sicily to meet a new generation of entrepreneurs who are making their fortunes and discovering a sunny quality of life there.

As Asia finally plans to open to the world in 2022, we look at which of its economies will be the key winners and investigate why many media companies are moving their operations to South Korea. Also, our correspondent in Taiwan explains why China’s angry rhetoric against the government in Taipei is unlikely to lead to war in 2022.

There are softer sides to our predictions too. In Paris we meet the hoteliers who are keen to shake up the city’s hospitality sector. And for a story that’s very soft indeed, we head to Scotland to see how once-sleepy cashmere brands are now plying their trade as never before.

Our aim, as always at monocle, is to warn you about potential hazards ahead but, just as importantly, to show you business ideas to adopt, people out to change the world for the better and some corners of the globe that can at last be added to your travel agenda (we also hope that one of our conferences, events or parties makes it on to that agenda). But, for now, here wishing you a very happy, successful and always interesting 2022 from everyone at monocle.

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