The Futurian
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The Futurian

Editorial Issue #3

THE FUTURIAN #3

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

As the various leaders of the world prepare to gather in Glasgow for COP26 later this year, we felt that it would be a good idea to publish an edition devoted to the general theme of sustainability. In thinking about how to approach the topic, we felt that two frameworks commended themselves to us. The first framework is that of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (the SDGs as they are known) adopted by the UN. This is a framework that aspires to be comprehensive in its reach. The framework blends a combination of economic, social, and environmental goals that aims to achieve a well rounded outcome. Many of the goals are seen better as aspirations rather than targets. The uptake has been patchy, with no real enforcement mechanism within the framework. We are starting from the point where we consider what would happen if we did take the SDGs seriously, or what the implications are of not taking them seriously. The framework has it’s critics, but it is also widely known.

Such a wide framework can, at times, lack a degree of precision. When it comes to taking action, a more clearly defined framework would be helpful. In this respect, Kate Raworth’s ‘Doughnut’ framework stood out as being of particular merit. The merit of this approach is that the model thinks in terms of a ceiling to human activities — a form of planetary boundary — in conjunction with a floor to provide a social foundation for those activities. It suggests that humanity needs to operate above the minimum social boundaries but below the planetary boundary in a number of key areas. The areas outlined in the Doughnut framework have a degree of overlap with the UN SDGs. We felt that the intersection of the two frameworks could give rise to an interesting set of possibilities. We see this as the most likely theme for COP26.

We invited a sequence of articles that explore the intersection of these two frameworks. We start with David Bengston, who tells us why he’s a climate optimist. It’s a bit contrarian, but we like it. Following on from that, Robin Jourdan examines what the creative community can do to help solve the climate crisis; and Paul Tero asks if the innovators can save us. We then move on to the issue of food. Charlotte Aguilar-Millan asks who has the problem of hunger before I ask if a hotter world will necessarily be a hungrier one. Finally, we move on to a place based piece. Andrew Walls looks at the prospect of rewilding Canada and what that might mean for all of us.

We hope that you enjoy this range of articles. Please feel free to contact us if you have any feedback on the articles. If you would like to write for future editions of The Futurian, please contact us. We are currently looking to expand our writers group.

Look out for Issue #4 of The Futurian, which is due to be published late December 2021, and which will cover some of the blindside risks that we are currently neglecting.

© Stephen Aguilar-Millan (Editor) 2021

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Stephen Aguilar-Millan

Stephen Aguilar-Millan

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Stephen is the Director of Research of the European Futures Observatory, a Foresight Research Institute based in the UK, where he manages the research team.