International sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future has today announced its 2023-2025 strategy outlining three pivotal “transitions” that it will focus on in its efforts to create a “just and regenerative” future in which both people and the planet thrive.
Working across the UK, Asia and the US, Forum will hone in on enabling deep transformation in how we think about, produce, consume and value both food and energy, and in the role of business in society and the economy.
With increased investment and activity, the current momentum behind these transitions is encouraging—but the world is not yet seeing the results it needs.
“As time to avert the worst of our social and environmental crises runs out, we’re continuing to see a misplaced focus on short-term and piecemeal fixes or interventions that lack ambition; they do not go far enough and they do not deliver results quickly enough. At Forum for the Future, we recognise that the window to act is still open, but all parts of our society and economy, and the sustainability movement in particular, needs to choose deep systemic transformation over shallow fixes that in all likelihood will ultimately fail,” said Forum’s Chief Executive Dr Sally Uren.
Forum’s new strategy effectively calls time on shallow interventions that might address specific problems in isolated, short-term ways, but that, in the longer term, fail to maintain momentum and to tackle the root causes of the issues they set out to resolve.
Examples of these shallow transitions include:
- a business focusing on reducing its negative footprint and ‘doing less harm’ than previous years, but failing to transform its mission, operations and goods and services to drive a just and regenerative economy
- moves to renewable energy technology that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and potentially create new job opportunities, but that fail to simultaneously address human rights abuses in energy supply chains and/or build community resilience
- taking new approaches to food production that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but that ignore the potential impacts of these approaches on the nutritional value of food, soil health and/or biodiversity, as well as producer livelihoods.
Recognising that the sustainability movement can no longer afford to fall short, Forum will work to enable a deep and urgent transition: of our food system to enable equitable access to nutrition for all whilst securing sustainable livelihoods for producers and restoring nature; to renewable energy that is ecologically safe and socially just; and in the role of business in society and the economy.
It is calling on change-makers to “think systemically, act faster and go further” in the pursuit of transformational change, characteristics of which include:
- changing the goals of key socio-economic systems to prioritise socially just and ecologically regenerative outcomes
- building the capacity for natural and social systems to thrive, ensuring they are resilient and capable of both climate mitigation and adaptation
- addressing the root causes of challenges and past imbalances - for example shifting from a supply chain model that does not pay farmers and workers a living wage, to one that creates and distributes value fairly
- shifting mindsets so that people appreciate the interconnections between people and the planet, and focus on the potential for change, rather than problems
- repatterning the power dynamics that have entrenched systemic inequality
- acting at a scale and pace commensurate to the challenge.
“Forum’s vision is a truly just and regenerative future in which both people and the planet thrive,” Dr Uren continued. “It’s a future in which our social and environmental systems have been transformed and are capable of adapting to and addressing challenges of the future with both flexibility and resilience. A future where the world has integrated ways to stabilise the planet, restore and replenish our ecosystems, and promote dignity, fulfilment and equity for all. Ensuring deep transformation in food, energy, and in the role of business in society and the economy is central to realising this vision.”
Forum was founded in 1996. 26 years on, the new strategy will see the non-profit continue to bring its long-standing systemic and futures-oriented approaches, with a renewed focus on working with partners to:
- co-create inspiring and compelling visions of the future and what a more just and regenerative world could look like;
- diagnose the present by considering how, where and why the world needs to change, today;
- forge a path between the two by exploring risks, opportunities and barriers to change, developing prototypes for new innovations and models, and challenging the mindsets behind the choices we make and the action we take.
Among the flagship programmes Forum will continue to deliver are the Growing our Future initiative - aimed at mainstreaming regenerative agriculture in the US food system; the Responsible Energy Initiative - aimed at ensuring the transition to renewable energy in Asia is ecologically safe, rights-respecting and socially just; and its work to transform businesses and reset their ambition in line with a just and regenerative mindset.
About Forum for the Future
Forum for the Future is a leading international sustainability non-profit. For more than 25 years we’ve been working in partnership with business, governments and civil society to accelerate the shift towards a just and regenerative future in which both people and the planet thrive. As our environmental, social and economic crises intensify, the world is rapidly changing, with multiple transitions already reshaping how we all live and work.
But will we go far enough, and fast enough? Forum is focused on enabling deep transformation in three game-changing areas: how we think about, produce, consume and value both food and energy, and the role of business in society and the economy.
Forum’s vision of a ‘just and regenerative’ future is a world in which:
- our social and environmental systems are capable of adapting to and addressing challenges of the future with flexibility and resilience
- the world has moved beyond artificial divides between people, nature and economy - integrating ways to stabilise the planet, restore and replenish our ecosystems, and promote dignity, fulfilment and equity for all
- the meaning of a ‘prosperous’ economy is redefined as one that meets the needs of everyone in society to thrive, distributes value fairly, and operates in harmony with nature and planetary boundaries
- the root causes of today’s biggest challenges - the climate emergency, nature in crisis and systemic inequality - have been tackled by dramatically reconfiguring the systems on which we rely.