Back 11.04.2024

Foresight shapes our collective future

Foresight work plays a crucial role in shaping our collective future by enabling us to anticipate and prepare for emerging challenges and opportunities. By systematically exploring and analyzing trends, drivers of change, and different scenarios, foresight work helps us to navigate uncertainty and mitigate risks. It helps us understand the complex interconnections between concepts such as technology, environment, economy, and society, enabling us to identify potential disruptions and adapt proactively. By promoting long-term thinking, foresight encourages us to consider the consequences of our actions and make sustainable choices that can lead to a better world. Ultimately, the importance of foresight work lies in its ability to empower us to shape our destiny rather than merely being at the mercy of unpredictable forces. 

Foresight work stimulates innovation, inspiring us to envision and create desirable futures, rather than being caught off guard by unforeseen circumstances. Gaia has an internal foresight team that meets once every quarter to discuss new developments and plan out different ways to incorporate foresight work more broadly into Gaia’s way of working. The goal of the scenario work was not to predict the most probable future but to develop Gaia’s strategic thinking and views of the future. The described scenarios may feel more or less likely to different people, but to arrange the scenarios in order of decreasing or increasing probability would be missing the point, which is to observe the whole that these scenarios form together. During the work, it was interesting to see how future developments naturally concentrated on key concepts, such as relations between different governing bodies, the effects of climate crisis and loss of biodiversity, and the distribution of wealth.  

The next development in Gaia’s foresight work is already in the works and will be published later this month. In the meantime, we hope that you will take a look at our different future scenarios and see how they make you think and feel.  

Scenario 1: A world of steady and successful sustainability progress

Well-planned international treaties acknowledging the disparity between countries and regions has made the green transition more acceptable and enabled a just transition. Regeneration of nature is taking place through advancements in technology and controlled exploitation of natural resources. This change has been supported by a change in values and attitudes, as a shared vision of planetary boundaries has been reached.​

Environmental and climate policies have accelerated the market of new sustainable business through a combination of liberalization and rational regulation. Green finance and re-skilling efforts by both public and private sectors have enabled traditional industries to go through sustainable transformation and the world has seen a substantial increase of jobs in the energy sector alone.​

Climate emissions and biodiversity loss are on a clear path of turning down, but the negative effects of climate change and environmental crisis do still actualize. This creates a pressing need for adjusting to changed weather conditions and regenerative nature conservation methods in all aspects of society, whether it be urban planning, agriculture or industrial production.​

Even though the world is turning towards more sustainable, the generated prosperity is not shared equally. As winners emerge, those countries and companies who have dared to make future oriented investments and rapid decisions at an early phase have gained strategic advantage in the competition. Others, with too cautious approaches or lesser capabilities and resources to begin with, are left behind.

Scenario 2: A world of globally fragmented self-serving sustainability​

International cooperation has fragmented, and the world has become divided into inward oriented blocs with dis-similar ideologies. The idea of global growth-capitalism has been challenged by new more regional economic systems that take the local environment more into consideration, but that are founded on cynical pursuit of national and regional self-interests. ​

Competition for resources is defining aspect of global tensions. Growing protectionism of material streams and commons such as water, are disrupting not only markets but also everyday lives of people. New circular innovations are emerging as a mean to secure the functioning economy and welfare in the on-going race for resources. Because of over-emphasized role of public steering and rigid environmental regulation, the market of new sustainable business does exist, but has narrowed and become highly competitive.​

The climate emissions and biodiversity loss have been cut to some extent but are still at hazardous levels. Climate change and environmental crises in ecosystems create immediate risks to especially vulnerable regions, dividing the world in regions with more time and stability to adapt and innovate, and regions with acute crisis looming behind the corner during the next decade.​

In a world where critical technologies and materials are competed over and protected, and with less free movement of ideas and people, countries and business with strong foresight and risk management are able to secure their operating environment and prosper. Strategic mindset, bilateral partnerships, secure supply chains and heavy national investment and development programs are keys to success.

Scenario 3: A world of chaos induced business-driven sustainability

The past decade from the 2020’s is characterized by significant fluctuation and turmoil. The world has witnessed several separate crises that have caused ripple effects across the globe. The challenging times have however created momentum for the development of new solutions.​

A sustainable business boom is rapidly emerging to combat the disastrous state of the environment. Despite the jubilant climate agreements formed in the 2020’s, the implemented actions remained insufficient to counter climate change and biodiversity loss. This led the world on a trajectory where societies are facing rapidly deteriorating living conditions that disrupt the wellbeing of people and affect the availability of resources. Companies have grasped the emerging opportunity and begun the development of solutions that help improve the condition of the environment, as well as enable adaptation to the changing conditions. The green transition has taken a massive leap forward, although later than initially planned.​

Countries have been making efforts to secure normalcy for citizens. Governments have focused on overcoming crises and securing the daily lives of citizens. In some areas, such as security, governments have extended their role in an effort to stabilize the situation. Pre-existing military and market alliances have continued to strengthen to maintain the welfare and living standards for citizens. Environmental regulation, on the other hand, has become a secondary priority for governments.​

The role of companies as societal actors strengthens. After years of turmoil, the purchasing power of people and available capital in the markets have dipped. Simultaneously a genuine need to develop solutions for the crises is growing, attracting the available capital both from investors and private consumers. Companies that have attached themselves to solving global challenges instead of producing mere consumables are seeing booming business.

Sustainable future is ours to form |

Energy Technology, Sustainable Buildings and Design, Heavy Industry, Electricity Markets

Strategy processes & implementation, Foresight & futures thinking, Strategic business development, Ecosystem development, Public-private partnerships
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A sustainable future is ours to form