Abstract An evolutionary framework for speculating about some of the socio-cultural and genetic diversity issues of the next millennium is developed. Human populations (societies) are basic biological and socio-cultural units. The nature of human societies is shaped by two kinds of linked evolutionary process: biological and socio-cultural. These evolutionary processes, in turn, are driven by human interactions with the physical environment, microorganisms, other species, other human populations, and by technological innovations. Preservation of genetic and socio-cultural diversity is identified as a crucial aspect of social progress over the next millennium. The impact of these ecological and technological ‘drivers of change’ on future evolutionary processes is discussed. While the world's affluent societies will be increasingly liberated from nature's constraints and enriched by technological innovations, it is questionable, given historical experience, whether poorer ones will share in the prosperity. Significant innovations in socio-cultural evolution, including new forms of governance, will be required to harness the accelerating forces of change and to ensure future social progress for all peoples.