As humanity and the planet reach a critical inflection point, Forum’s latest Future of Sustainability thinking reflects on what the past can teach us about what is needed now if we are to shape a more just and regenerative future. 

This year we are presenting our insights in the form of an inquiry - an opinion and commentary series set to:

  • explore lessons learned from the last 25 years in the sustainability movement; where have we succeeded in creating real change and where have we failed? And what does that tell us about how we need to do things differently? 
  • examine how the world is responding to today's multifaceted challenges and opportunities, and what pivots might be needed 
  • consider what this all means going forward. How can we drive greater change at pace and scale? And how can we encourage the adoption of new mindsets and approaches critical to creating what’s really needed: a truly just and regenerative future?

The Future of Sustainability: Looking Back to Go Forward comes as our window to tackle global major social and environmental issues continues to shrink, and on the back of a much-anticipated COP26, which put the spotlight on ongoing gaps in the level of ambition needed if we are to keep warming within 1.5C.  

While much progress has been made, it’s clear we are not yet seeing the deep transformation that is urgently needed if we are to address the world’s existential crises. And it’s time to face up to the uncomfortable truth that more than three decades of ‘sustainability’ have not got us where we need to be.

Now is the time to reset our ambition…

Forum believes the time is ripe for change and that it is critical that we reset our ambition - looking beyond incremental approaches and tweaking within the current system to create true transformation. 

But this transformation will only be realised if we can look back with humility, learn from the past, come to terms with the fact that we have already reached and far exceeded the boundaries of our current system, and recognise that there is great disruption ahead.

Diverse voices are set to share their personal stories and perspectives, including:

  • Prof. Dr Johan Rockstrom, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Professor at the Institute of Earth and Environmental Science at Potsdam University, and Professor in Water Systems and Global Sustainability at Stockholm University Read more
  • John Elkington, Founder and Chief Pollinator at Volans and one of the founders of the sustainability movement, in conversation with Forum’s Co-Founder and environmental campaigner, Jonathon Porritt  Read more
  • Aaron Maniam, Singaporean civil servant currently serving as Deputy Secretary (Industry and Information), Ministry of Communications and Information - in conversation with Forum’s Madhumitha Ardhanari Read more
  • Dr Agnes Kalibata, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the 2021 Food Systems Summit, in conversation with Forum’s Caroline Ashley Read more
  • Archana Soreng, environmental activist and member of the UN Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change Read more
  • Forum’s Chief Executive, Dr Sally Uren, Jonathon Porritt and many more on the biggest questions facing the movement right now including: what the limits of corporate climate action are; the challenges of our economic model; what 'just and transition' means; the changing role of philanthropy; and why tackling the global food challenge could help address wider issues related to our changing climate and our global value chains. 


With thanks to our partners

Looking Back to Go Forward was made possible thanks to the generous support from our partners. Laudes Foundation, GSK Consumer Healthcare, Target,  M&S, Capgemini, Bupa, 3M, Burberry, CTPA, Olam Food Ingredients, and in particular our headline partner, SC Johnson.