New Project: Scanning our Future


Resilience has been a main focus of my work for the past five years: during this time, I’ve become increasingly interested in the future outlook. It seems that the present is so demanding that most people don’t want to consider the future. But surely the rapid changes and pressures we face now are likely to continue, and increase, and hopefully there will be progress to help us handle them.

I’ve also been struck by how little research or public debate is happening about future outlooks. So I have initiated and funded a research project, gathering insights from diverse experts around the world on the outlook for the next 15-35 years, ie the period 2030 to 2050. The aim of the project is not to create a definitive forecast, but to highlight what the major issues may be, and where opinions about them converge or diverge.

The current plan is to rely mainly on web searches, and to focus on identifying think tanks, research/forecasting institutes, or individual experts with both depth of expertise and diverse viewpoints.  The project is envisaged in three phases:

Phase 1Initial research and a rough draft report due for completion in December 2016.

Phase 2Augmenting and polishing the report plus graphic design inputs, and linking with one or more partner/umbrella organisations, leading to publication of the report, launch of the related website and a related event/promotional programme.  Target to complete this phase end of June 2017.

Phase 3More speculatively, the idea of a book, TV programme, or other larger-scale treatment of this material.  There is no timetable for this, but the aim would be to explore it in the first half of 2017.

The Phase 1 work will mostly be done by Palden Jenkins, a freelance researcher based in the UK, who has a range of international contacts, and experience of several complex research and writing projects, such as the Kingfisher Encyclopedia of World History which won a Smithsonian Award.

The current plan is for Alan to fund the project and direct it with Palden: they have been friends and colleagues for many years. Both are open to this becoming part of a larger project. The intention is to make the outcomes of the project available to all, free of charge.

The outcome of the project will be a report and website content, which give an overview from a range of future outlooks.  In particular, the aim is to explore different geographical, cultural and political viewpoints, including:

Geographical: if possible, views from each continent.

Political: conservative, progressive and others

Cultural: a range of key standpoints, including Islamic, tribal, spiritual, permaculture.

For each viewpoint, the aim is to find a futures report by a respected think tank, research or forecasting institution or expert.   Where possible, these reports will be accessible in full via the website.

If you’d like to be kept informed about the project, and contribute in some way, please contact Alan.