We’ve been busy over the last year working on how we can catalyse and enable a low carbon energy revolution in the UK. One of the things holding up the revolution is the availability and affordability of finance for community-led projects. With the Low Carbon Hub, a collective of communities giving advice in Oxfordshire, we’re about to launch a new platform to help communities get involved.
The Hub’s vision is to create a ‘People’s Power Station’ that replaces the role of Didcot B that currently powers the whole of Oxfordshire with community renewable energy capacity and reduced energy use through efficiency. It’s a spine-tingling prospect. A study for the Hub by Oxford University shows that this ‘powering up and powering down’ will require huge changes in infrastructure and buildings. But crucially, it also shows that it is cost effective and possible.
A few weeks ago we launched Breakthrough Innovation: your guide to innovating for a brighter future. We brought together the experiences of our leading partners into a short guide for sustainability champions and innovation specialists to make it happen. Companies need breakthrough innovations to succeed; we all need those breakthroughs to help create a brighter future.
The guide has lots of nuggets on how you can make breakthrough innovation - a product or service to customers which both creates a new market or shifts an existing one and creates superior sustainability outcomes – happen. Here are some of the best, in a handy list of ten do’s and don’ts.
At Cafédirect we try to influence every part of our supply chain towards sustainability, all the way from coffee bean to cup. In 2009, we worked with Forum for the Future to carry out an in-depth carbon footprint of our entire supply chain, most of which is out of our direct control. We found that the vast majority of the carbon footprint of a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate was in the consumption phase, right at the end of the chain. This is particularly true when our hot drinks are drunk in cafés and restaurants, thanks to energy-intensive espresso machines.
When we published Consumer Futures back in October 2011, we really hoped organisations from across the world would read it, use it, and start to think about how to mainstream sustainability into their operations. Consumer Futures, sponsored by Unilever and Sainsbury’s, explores mainstream consumer attitudes to sustainability in 2020 and is intended to help brands and business make sustainability easy and normal for consumers today.
With at least 24 travel companies ceasing trading in 2011* alone the tourism industry isn’t riding the current economic storm well. This is a watershed year for an industry that has so much going for it, but that in the worst cases, doesn’t appear to be even financially sustainable anymore. Which is why Forum for the Future teamed up with The Travel Foundation to launch a business case report for Sustainable Tourism. It is designed to help tour operators that haven’t already started take their first steps into the exciting journey to a more sustainable future. It offers a breath of fresh air in the doom and gloom with practical ways for business to rethink their strategies for a much needed longer term focus. Its top 10 tips outline the sort of action that will be needed by the whole industry to get it to its Tourism 2023 vision for a sustainable tourism industry.
How can we use digital and communications technology to build a sustainable future? It’s a fascinating and important question we’re exploring in theory and practice at Forum. This blog is the last of three based on recent events and workshops we’ve run with people from the digital and sustainability worlds.
Beautiful, simple, normal, ‘sticky’… is that how you’d describe the everyday ‘doing’ of sustainability? I’m guessing the answer to that is more often a ‘no’ than a ‘yes’. But we’re hoping to change this in the latest evolution of our Sustainable Economy Framework (SEF). To do it, we’re going digital, and we used the recent Digital Shoreditch festival to get us off to a creative start.
“I woke up in the middle of the night. I felt bewildered and really anxious….then I reached out for my phone and, having touched it, fell back into a deep, contented sleep. When I woke up and remembered what had happened the next morning, I was absolutely horrified.”
We heard numerous anecdotes like this one during our work on the FutureScapes project. Once people got talking it quickly became apparent that many of us feel deeply concerned about our relationship with communications technology and where we are heading. From growing email overload to the distractions of Facebook, it looks like our current trajectory to a highly networked and connected society could be rather rocky.
Today we launch Breakthrough Innovation: your guide to innovating for a brighter future. We’ve brought together the experiences of our leading partners into a short guide for sustainability champions and innovation specialists to make it happen. Companies need breakthrough innovations to succeed; we all need those breakthroughs to help create a brighter future.
Let’s start with some examples:
Cafédirect introduced Fairtrade coffee to the UK. The mainstream changed to followed suit.
Nissan has developed the Leaf electric car. It’s been heralded as the first of many.
ZipCar, the world’s leading car sharing network, was profitable for the second half of 2011. You no longer need to own a car to use a car.
What do these stories have in common? They are all breakthrough innovations for a brighter future, by which we mean:
As the Rio +20 conference ends today, what’s the verdict?
It was billed as a gathering of governments to save the planet. But world-changing it wasn’t. Rather than make challenging commitments, participating countries opted instead for a set of woolly and watered-down outputs.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at the lack of progress. The preparatory work was poor; both the United States and Europe have been focused on domestic issues; and the backdrop of economic gloom was hardly favourable.
Yes, we did got some agreements to seek further agreements, some small steps in the right direction. And the proposed Sustainable Development Goals might one day prove influential. But there was little concrete from Rio + 20 itself.
There were some rays of light shining outside the official negotations. The business community was enthusiastic and vocal, with Aviva leading a global campaign for mandatory corporate reporting and a powerful coalition of companies backing the Natural Capital Declaration.
How can we use digital and communications technology to build a sustainable future? It’s a fascinating and important question we’re exploring in theory and practice at Forum. This blog is the second of two based on recent events and workshops we’ve run with people from the digital and sustainability worlds.
“I have learned that we are standing on a burning platform.” These words, uttered just over a year ago, became one of the powerful pieces of corporate communication of recent times. They were delivered by the Chief Executive of Nokia in a memo to staff as his business crumbled under the weight of rapid-fire product innovation from likes of Apple and Samsung.
The Forum for the Future is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Overseas House, 19-23 Ironmonger Row, London, EC1V 3QN, UK. Registered charity no. 1040519. Company no. 2959712. VAT registration no. 677 7475 70