As humanity and the planet reach a critical inflection point, Forum for the Future’s latest Future of Sustainability thinking reflects on what the past can teach us about what is needed now if we are to shape a more just and regenerative future.
This unique opinion and commentary series:
From November 22 through to mid-April 2022, we published a series of new insights on an ongoing basis. As 2021 came to a close, Parts One and Two of the series helped us scene-set and look back. At the start of 2022, Part Three explored today’s response, and Part Four distilled everything we’ve heard into key takeaways and an overview of what’s next.
Join us on what has been a fascinating journey taking stock of where we’ve been, and where we’re going….
As global crises escalate, we arrive at a pivotal moment for the sustainability movement. The time is ripe for transformation. And in order to fully realize it we need to look back with humility, to learn from the past and fully acknowledge this harsh truth:
While significant progress has been made, more than three decades of ‘sustainability’ have not got us to where we need to be.
These scene-setters reflect on why now is the time to transform, and why it’s as important to understand where we’ve come from as where we’re going.
I have learned from spending a lot of time imagining alternative futures - that really there's so much work to do in uncovering the past and challenging the narratives we are told about the past so that we can move forward.
Thinking about present-day flawed systems as historical human constructs - created by a subgroup of people for specific aims - can help us understand and change them.
"If governments really want to start doing a better job, they need to maximise ways in which community-led organisations can change people’s lives for the good. This is a huge combined resource – and we need to give it what it needs to prosper and thrive."
"Today we have come to the end of the road. We have a global carbon budget remaining that is so limited, so ridiculously small, that it is the last little crumbs on the table. It’s a drama - a transformative moment."
"The great change happens when people decide what they want, within the realm of the plausible, and then start taking concrete action to deal with it."
“When people speak of development, it is really important to ask: ‘Development by whom, for whom, and for what?’”
“We have a proverb in Cameroon which says, ‘If you train a man, you have just trained one person. If you train a woman, you have trained a nation’.”
"I think we’re right on the edge, the cusp, of things potentially changing but the question is, do they go in our direction or somewhere else?"
"People are put in leadership for a reason. They need to ensure that things happen faster, that policies are put in place that ensure we do the right thing, and that the most vulnerable among us are not paying the cost of what is done by the richest among us."
Forum for the Future is a leading international sustainability non-profit. For 25 years we’ve been working in partnership with business, governments and civil society to accelerate the transformation toward a just and regenerative future. We use our systems change and futures expertise to help tackle critical global challenges: the climate emergency, transforming our food and farming systems, and ensuring supply chains are more resilient and more equitable. We also enable long-term transformative change by equipping individuals and organisations to act more systemically.Explore More