An introduction to the Deep Transitions Futures methodology

We all want a sustainable future, and a better future for ourselves, our families, our children and our communities. But what could that ‘better future’ look like? Any future more desirable than our present will require trade-offs. After all, we all don’t want exactly the same things out of life. Deep Transitions Futures is exploring what people can do today to create change towards a more positive future. Specifically, what innovations, what new models of business or new lifestyles, what new ways of doing things, could open up pathways to deep structural transformations that would support a better, more sustainable future for us all?

In grappling with that question, the Deep Transition Futures project began with a profound conceptual mapping of how deep transitions take place in societies and civilisations. The purpose was to provide a theory of change that could steer practical investment in emerging innovations, paradigms and lifestyle shifts towards more desirable futures. With the theory of change in hand, the project team brought together a global panel of investors from business, government, and NGOs, and took them on a journey into future possibilities. From the possibilities, the panel imagined three different desirable worlds – three different futures that each leverage contrasting societal, economic, and technological shifts. 

While presenting exciting shifts in the arc of human history, each of these futures also presents different patterns of trade-offs and costs. The trade-offs you are willing to accept and the outcomes you most desire will affect what you’d choose as a most preferred future. 

The next step in the methodology is to consider what niches that exist today might be encouraged by investment to grow, amplify, and interconnect across multiple different systems. The project is looking closely at emerging changes and potential niches in the food, energy, and mobility socio-technical systems. The Global Investors Panel’s ongoing discussions will identify and prioritise niches that could have the widest impact across multiple systems and so move us closer to one or more of the possible desirable futures. The output is meant to be a practical guide to investment to shift the course of human history towards a better future. 

In the upcoming months we will continue to publish blog posts that zoom in on the Deep Transitions Futures methodology, our work with the panel and the objectives and outcomes of the project.