What might the future look like?

We asked participants at our foresight workshop to envisage the future, exploring the changes needed to build a better, more resilient world. How could these perspectives affect the future focus and direction of adaptation and DRR?

Click on the images below to find out what they thought – let us know if you agree, or share your ideas and we’ll add them to the visualisation.

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2 thoughts on “What might the future look like?”

  1. I applaud the PLACARD initiative to hold a foresight workshop to envisage the future and the changes necessary to build a more resilient world. They help provide one set of views from the participants. This area merits serious research. One area that the PLACARD and UKCIP teams might like to look at are non-technical, behavioural and policy opportunities and barriers in relation to the principal actors (ie Governments, advisers, communities) and the main drivers and influencing factors (eg extreme weather events affecting communities; breakdown of food and materials supply chains; other issues which rank (or are ranked by our elected representatives) as being of higher priority and therefore more demanding of time and resources. There have been many so-called “Foresight” studies commissioned by successive Chief Scientific Advisers over the last 20 years or so. It would be worth looking at those reports to see how they were received, what action was taken, and what therefore is different today that would not be different had not these reports been researched, written and disseminated.

    We may have strong views about how to achieve resilience. We may strongly argue that climate change is among the most important if not the most important challenge facing our species. Equally, others may think immigration, social and economic inequality, Brexit or the decline in rural services are the most important. The point of this thought is that getting consensus about prioritisation of challenges is not going to be easy no matter what the science is telling us. And not only is consensus on priorities going to be hard to achieve but also consensus on defining the challenges and on how to address them effectively.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment – you’ve raised some important issues for the next phase of the debate.
      One of the barriers to taking foresight further is that long term visions are often difficult to put into action when the political / policy cycle is short term – there is huge pressure to achieve results within a specific, often short time frame. As a result, there is a tendency to acknowledge future issues but not tackle them. Action is also sometimes a reactive response to an event, rather than through forethought or planning; for example, additional funding for flood defences in the UK was approved as a result of catastrophic events.
      It would be interesting to investigate if the short-term barriers to using foresight are the same across Europe, or if there are other pressures that mean it is not acted on.

      Is simply imagining a vision of the future all we can hope for, or can we actually use small parts of that vision to inform our thinking about our work? When learning to drive, you’re told to look forwards before you look behind – it gives a different perspective on what you’re seeing as opposed to looking backwards first.

      Is consensus important? If you ask people’s opinion you will most likely get a small range of polar opposite views. However, if you ask about what people value, the ideas will be much closer – we all want a healthy, happy future for our families, for example. Perhaps we should aim to build from common values rather than trying to achieve a consensus. This links in to some interesting work on the communication of climate change, and how to engage people in a conversation about difficult subjects.

      The next step for the discussion could be a webinar to explore ideas and get a debate going across the network.

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