Our history

Forum for the Future was founded in 1996 by three leading figures of the UK environment movement with a mission to accelerate change to a sustainable future.

To achieve their shared vision, founders Paul Ekins, Sara Parkin and Jonathon Porritt wanted Forum to centre its work on finding practical ways for public and private organisations to contribute to sustainable development. This positive, collaborative and innovative spirit has shaped Forum's work ever since.

Today, the non-profit is led by chief executive Sally Uren, who took over in 2013, and employs 80 people in three continents. Sara Parkin and Jonathon Porritt remain closely involved as Founder Directors, while Paul Ekins has returned to academia.

Throughout our history we've worked on collaborative projects with different sectors including local authorities and universities. We act as a critical friend to some of the world's biggest and best-known multinationals, such as O2, Unilever and Pepsico, and often partner with NGOs, governments and new enterprises.

We've led thinking and pioneered practice in sustainable development, including launching the London Sustainability Exchange and initiating the multi-award winning Farming Futures project. Bringing together people and organisations around difficult issues such as community energy, shipping and new business models has led to powerful local and international coalitions working together to solve complex sustainability challenges.

From the outset we wanted to share the outcome of our work and grow the capacity of others to work alongside us, which is why in 1996 we also founded our magazine Green Futures and a Masters course in Leadership for Sustainable Development.

Green Futures was a source of solutions and inspiration for a sustainable future, and was as popular with the broader public as it was with our partners and collaborators. The 93rd and final edition of Green Futures was published in July 2014, and an interim Special Edition, The Future of Brands, was published in October 2014, paving the way for a new annual publication, Green Futures: The Long View.

The first edition was published in February 2015 to coincide with the launch of the Futures Centre, a dynamic online platform where users can share signals of change, track trends, share pool resources and spot opportunities to work together towards a sustainable world.

Through our publications, seminars, website and now the Futures Centre, we not only share our learning but also lead the debate on sustainability solutions by publicising new ideas and good practice wherever we find it.

On our Masters course, students combine taught courses and five months of work placements with a pioneering learning model based on our reflective practice and experience. It continues to be a leading example of applied sustainability education.

Since our inception, the international side of our work has grown steadily as we deal with global issues and many of our partners operate in a number of different countries. We opened our New York office in 2011, and since then we've established a presence in Singapore and India.

This geographic expansion makes it easier for us to work globally to transform some of the critical systems on which we depend completely, such as those that provide us with food and energy, and make them fit for the challenges of the 21st century.

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