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Trajectories from COVID-19

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Future of Sustainability – Event Q&A

On 14 and 15 October 2020 we held two launch events for the report From System Shock to System Change: Time to Transform which outlines our work on the trajectories from COVID-19. This thread lists all questions asked by our audiences during the first event. Have a look and feel free to ask any further questions!

Future of Sustainability report - click to view the report

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  • FR Fran says:

    How is regenerative different from the good old sustainability?

  • RO Roberta Iley says:

    What could it actually look like to redefine what we mean by prosperity in our economic system?

  • JO Joanie says:

    Government leadership and vision is patchy across the world… so, how can businesses and civil society meaningfully take the lead on transforming the economy, in a context of inadequate central leadership?

    • SU Suzie says:

      Spot on!

      • LO Louise Armstrong says:

        Finding a way for civil society and businesses to work together, with governments, in a genuinely mutual way feels like the key to this. That requires challenging the way we all work, partner and collaborate. Letting go of old ways of doing things and really creating the respect and time to understand how each can play their part in working towards common goals.

        I worked on something called Civil Society Futures a few years ago that created a set of principles that I think could work as a great basis and starting point for forming these new relationships https://civilsocietyfutures.org/pact/

  • JE Jenni Black says:

    In our work, we see a lot of companies are keen to make positive changes towards greater sustainability, but they are incremental and won’t add up to the scale of change we need to see by 2030. Do you have any examples of businesses, investors or governments really shifting their focus towards a transformation rather than tinkering around the edges of the current system?

  • MA Mauricio says:

    Ecological breakdown isn’t being caused by everyone equally. Research shows that the richest 1% emit 100 times more than the poorest half of humanity. Anyone serious about sustainability, must be concerned with reducing the huge inequality in the world. How are we going to survive the 21st century without more radical measures to distribute income and wealth more fairly?

    • JO Joy Green says:

      Hi Mauricio, really great point. Inequality is inextricably interwined with ecological breakdown, and also contributes to skewed power dynamics that block change (you can really see this at work in Amazon deforestation for example, but so many other examples too). Advocates for sustainability should consider also advocating measures like wealth taxes and UBI… And if we move towards thinking regeneratively this has to include having properly distributive economic flows. A transition that does not tackle inequality or face up to climate justice will not be resilient..

  • JO Josephine Becker says:

    Very interesting four trajectories. Very much liked the video.
    However, I wonder why there is such a focus on economy and business and not climate justice and social justice…

  • SA Saksham Nijhawan says:

    How do we ensure that marginalised and vulnerable communities are an equal part of a regenerative future? And what does being regenerative mean for vulnerable communities?

  • ZO Zoe Le Grand says:

    What is the role of citizens in creating the Transform trajectory?

  • AN Andy Young says:

    To get this working on the scale needed we need to a critical mass of support from business, how can we use this moment to drive engagement at scale across industry?

  • SI Simone de Wijn says:

    We have to see the world as a whole system and everyone has there own time to creating new regenerative culture. Build on Human/technology/sustainbility but we have to change from ego too eco. It’s about mindset change.

  • SU Suzie says:

    Is Forum for the Future still working with local government to educate and implement sustainable development. Also, what is being done to educate Government?

  • DA Daniel says:

    I see the generational shift as really critical, what are we actually doing to shift power to the next gen to lead on a regenerative future?

  • JO Josephine Becker says:

    Love that just transition to net zero is seen as the same !

    My question how do you reimagine capitalism? How do you envision just futures whilst capitalism exists, when capitalism is very much based on exploitation and inequality ?

    • LO Louise Armstrong says:

      Thanks Josephine – this is such a big question.

      As part of this work we identified ‘exploring power’ as a key enabler, understanding your own power, privilege and position in the system. This is absolutely critical, recognising that the reason the climate crisis exists is the same reason why injustice is still an everyday reality for too many still. There is a culture of dominance and superiority that exists. Until we dismantle the assumptions and mindsets that are laced with this – we will only get so far.

      Capitalism is part of our shared story and history. Now we have to find ways to move beyond this and into a healthier dynamic and relationship.

      Key to this is redefining what we value – how we can we recognise thriving people and ecosystems – that goes beyond the exploitation and extractive models of today.

      There’s pockets of great stuff happening to – from Doughnut economics, to thriving local economies, work from groups like the Finance Innovation Lab. Where we put our attention and focus matters if we’re really to reimagine capitalism.

      Interested to know where you think we need to start to reimagine capitalism?

  • CO Collette Snowden says:

    I’ve listened to the same discussions about being hopeful, optimistic etc for almost 30 years when early reporting on climate change and sustainability was largely confined to academia. But I’m now far less hopeful, especially seeing the response in many places to COVID and the success of attacks on science and logic. Awareness by itself has not produced change, raised consciousness has not produced change, reports and information have not produced change. It seems to result in a suppression of radical potential. Calls to action are NOT action. Thinking, planning, strategising are stimulating and rewarding, but often give the appearance of doing something when nothing changes. How can you communicate to the public -and especially to the global media – the need for radical change, to the point where markets and governments are prepared to make real change and not just give the appearance of transformation by making cosmetic changes that have short term appeal?

    • JO Joy Green says:

      Hi Collette, a great comment that definitely resonates with those of us who have been active in sustainability for a long time! I think what is perhaps different now is that we are now in the age of consequences. it’s much more visceral and real now and much more galvanising. Of course all kinds of things are being galvanised, not just transformation, and there are no guarantees at all that transformation will happen (hence the multiple trajectories). But the pandemic has destroyed inertia, pushed us off the burning platform, because now we have to rebuild, no matter what. It has also smashed a lot of previous assumptions, many of which were barriers to deep change. Action IS happening (again, not all of it positive). the question now is how do we work with this energy and this window?

  • DA David Bent says:

    Q: What is the strongest critique of the core position of this report? How would you answer it?

  • JO Jordan says:

    What is the best way to foster optimism in others?

  • SU Suzie says:

    Many years ago, I worked for the Southampton Sustainability Forum and have a good grasp of the issues. I’m struggling with the acronyms and jargon and I’m wondering how those who don’t have English as a first language are managing? I apologise for being negative, but I’m not hearing ‘how’ anything good is going to happen and I’m contemplating leaving, which saddens me as I’m worried about missing something helpful.

  • MU Mukesh Gupta says:

    Incremental is not enough but then there’s a lack of understanding towards how to go about transformative change. This interplay between incremental and transformative is something that needs to be understood by all the stakeholders. As per the systems thinking when enough patchwork of incremental happens with the advent of tipping points, interconnectedness, transformation does occur.

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