Signal of change / Government loan to Air France comes with sustainability strings attached

The French Government has approved a €7 billion loan to Air France for COVID-19 aid – with conditions. Air France must cease operating short-haul domestic air travel where trains offer the same journey in 2h 30min or less. Also conditional for funding, the airline must reduce its CO2 emissions per passenger-km by 50% between 2005 and 2030, cut CO2 emissions on its short-haul flights by 50% by the end 2024 and increase its proportion of fuel derived from sustainable sources to 2% by 2025. Read more

Signal of change / Centralised vs. decentralised contact-tracing apps divide the world

Many countries are using or developing contact-tracing apps to track the COVID 19 virus among their populations. These apps use Bluetooth to identify which phones a user’s phone has come into close contact with and then notifies those phones if the user reports symptoms or is diagnosed. Some apps collect additional data such as home address/area, GPS location or phone number. Read more

Signal of change / Cycling in the UK is set to radically increase after lockdown

As part of the UK’s existing transportation strategy, £5bn was already committed pre-COVID-19 by the UK government towards biking, cycling, and bus infrastructure through 2025.  However, In order to maintain social-distancing on busses and trains during COVID-19, only 13-15% of the average number of passengers will be able to ride public transit. Read more

Signal of change / Cities pledge not to return to business as normal

Planning the Post COVID-19 recovery is causing cities around the world to carefully consider just what they would like to recover to, and how they will rebuild to achieve it. As such, Dutch officials in Amsterdam will be using British economist Raworth’s doughnut economic model to help guide the city’s recovery towards a balance within natural boundaries. Read more

Signal of change / Home office set to become the new normal

As more countries prepare for, or incrementally ease into, a post-lockdown world, a growing number of major employers, including Twitter, Mondelez, Nationwide and Barclays, are hinting at plans to shift to permanent remote working positions. Read more

Signal of change / The demand for sustainable lifestyles booms in the Western hemisphere

A recent YouGov poll carried out in the UK, discovered 91% of respondents do not want life to return to ‘normal’ once the lockdown is over. Appreciating cleaner air, increased wildlife and flourishing communities, linked to the forced reduction of economic activity, 54% of respondents hope to make changes in their own lives, and for the country, in follow up to the crisis. Read more

Signal of change / COVID-19 undermines the status of global supply chains

With China closing down and India partially banning their exports of medical items to western customers, the coronavirus crisis has been quick to undermine the status of the 20th-century-glorified global supply chains, exposing their high cost, inherent dependencies, and vulnerability in light of the pandemic. Read more

Signal of change / Corporations with offshore tax breaks penalised in Denmark and Poland's COVID-19 bailout packages

As governments around the world deliver huge bailout packages to support crumbling economies amid the COVID-19 crisis, PMs from Denmark and Poland announced a withdrawal of further financial aid to companies registered in offshore tax havens. Read more

Signal of change / COVID-19 is shining a new light on how businesses and employers factor people into decision-making

While COVID-19 is creating an advantage for some businesses, most are experiencing significant challenges and disruption. With this sense of ‘everyone being in the same boat’, the gap between businesses and employers that choose to put their workers, suppliers and customers first and those that don’t is becoming starker. Read more

Signal of change / Price of oil at an all-time low

US oil prices fell below $0 per barrel this month, a record low brought about by reduced demand combined with limited ability of producers to store excess. Other oil-producing countries, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, have made a deal agreeing to the deepest production cut ever negotiated, which still isn’t expected to resolve excess supply. Read more

Signal of change / Consumers adapt to online life as millions are confined to homes

Consumer behaviour has shifted online in many areas of the world as social distancing restrictions mean billions of people are confined to their homes for the majority of the day. Read more

Signal of change / Universal Basic Income to become new-normal in Western nations?

Unprecedented citizen bailout measures have been taken by governments, but uncertainty around timeframes leaves room for long-lasting change. Read more

Signal of change / Businesses rapidly repurpose as normal consumption patterns slump and demand for medical supplies spikes

Businesses are switching production from business-as-usual to assist in the Covid-19 response effort. Read more

Signal of change / Deforestation and biodiversity degradation exposed as key public health issue

The links between deforestation and the emergence of novel pandemics are being highlighted by researchers. Read more

Signal of change / French law bans disposal of unsold goods

France has passed a law banning the disposal of unsold goods, a move the French Government claims is a world first. Instead of being burned or scrapped, unsold items must be reused, redistributed or recycled. Read more

Signal of change / WHO calls Coronavirus the first massive ‘infodemic’

The World Health Organization warned on 2 February that the 2019-nCoV outbreak and response has been accompanied by a massive ‘infodemic’, defined as "an over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it”. What can we learn from the epidemic to strike a better balance between emergency public health warnings and the need to protect and strengthen social cohesion in times of crisis? Read more

Signal of change / Alibaba makes RNB 20 billion available in loans to Chinese companies hit by coronavirus

MYBank, part of the Alibaba Group Holdings affiliate Ant Financial, has responded to the COVID-19 outbreak by announcing RNB 20 billion in loans to Chinese companies, of which 50% is ring fenced for firms in Hubei province, where the virus originated. The move prompts the question, what does it mean to be a responsible business in a time of uncertainty and volatility? Read more

Signal of change / Kickstarter employees vote to form a union

In a first for the technology industry, Kickstarter’s full-time employees have voted under the National Labor Relations Board to form a union. The workers are calling for a healthier power structure enabling greater participation in critical decisions, and changes in how the company addresses gender discrimination and sexual harassment. The move follows 18 months of internal organising which saw two employees fired and two others leave, reporting an intimidating working environment. Read more

Signal of change / Florida buys wetlands to prevent oil drilling

The state of Florida has purchased 20,000 acres of the Everglades, a wetlands conservation area, to save it from oil drilling. Not only will public ownership of the land prevent oil drilling indefinitely, it will also protect more than 60 endangered and threatened species and a source of drinking water for millions of people. Read more

Signal of change / First sustainability professional becomes CEO of H&M

Fast fashion giant H&M has appointed Helena Helmersson, who worked for more than five years in its sustainability team, as its CEO. Helmersson is the first sustainability professional, as well as the first woman, to lead the group, having also worked as its Global Head of Production and Chief Operating Officer. Read more

Signal of change / There was no commercial whaling in 2019 in Iceland

In 2019, two Icelandic whaling businesses - Hvalur and the Icelandic Minke Whalers Association - announced they wouldn’t hunt fin whales that year. Japan also ceased its Antarctic whaling program in 2019, reducing demand for Icelandic whale meat.  While most nations have supported a commercial whaling ban since 1986, Iceland, Norway and Japan have been exceptions. Is appetite for whale meat finally coming to an end? Read more

Signal of change / First programming language in classical Chinese attracts coders

The world's first programming language written in classical Chinese, wenyan-lang, is attracting a community of enthusiastic coders, producing dozens of new programs in the language’s first months. Read more

Our temporary home for THE FUTURES CENTRE

We are working on a new Futures Centre website, which will launch in early June 2020. Until that time, the site thefuturescentre.org will be closed. In the meantime, you can submit signals of change and view newly submitted signal content here. Read more

Signal of change / US feed growers offered systemic support to transition to regenerative practices

The Boston-heaquartered ag-tech company Indigo Agriculture aims to support feed and grain crop producers in the US to transition to the use of regenerative practices, using a systems approach that aims to support profitability, environmental sustainability and consumer health. Read more

Signal of change / Tata Steel's new HR policy grants equal benefits to LGBTQ+ employees

Indian multinational Tata Steel has introduced a new Diversity and Inclusion policy that enables all LGBTQ+ employees and their partners to access all HR benefits available under Indian law, including health check-ups, access to medical facilities, adoption leave, honeymoon packages, new-born parent and child care leave, and inclusion in the employee assistance programme (EAP). Read more

Signal of change / 81% of companies predict a rise in workforce activism

A survey of 375 C-suite executives - at companies with more than 1,000 employees and upwards of £250 million in annual sales volume - across the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia, found that 81% anticipate a rise in workforce activism in the next three to five years. Read more