It’s a big day today. The new platform,, goes live!

In some respects, this is the end point of a process that started for me more than three and a half years ago back in 2011, when I began work on “The World We Made”. Off the back of the book, I did a little sustainable innovation showcase, which then turned into a much more ambitious plan to develop a global platform for the Forum, the working title for which was FuturePin.

FuturePin itself got overtaken by a new initiative involving a number of Forum’s key partners (Unilever, M&S and BT), which was launched at the World Economic Forum in January this year. And Forum For The Future has been involved in developing that initiative since then – launched today as

Very exciting – check it out!

And this is the longer blog that I did on it for Guardian Sustainable Business.
Inspiration, not just grim reality, needed to engage millennials on sustainability

On Tuesday, a new platform celebrating the power of sustainable innovation ( goes live. An impressive consortium of corporate partners have come together to get this off the ground, and Forum for the Future has been in the mix since the start of the year.

Such a platform has been a long time coming. And from our point of view, the potential is huge. Not just because some of the companies involved (Google, Facebook, Twitter and so on) know a thing or two about social media. And not just because the agency hosting the platform and curating all the content (namely, VICE) has had astonishing success in reaching out to Millennials (18-30 year olds), which is the platform’s principal audience. But also because Collectively could be a real game-changer in bringing to life just how brilliant our future world could be.

All but a tiny minority of reasonable people now acknowledge that we need to learn how to live much more sustainably on this stressed-out planet of ours. Urgently. But politicians have proved themselves to be utterly useless at putting that imperative at the heart of their politics. Back they come, election after election, with the same old growth-at-all-costs prospectus, with a few green sops thrown in, essentially to keep their own green-ish activists off their backs.

That’s how it’s always been, and pretty much how it is today, which is why so many environmentalists hold the whole damn lot of them in contempt. But that’s the easy bit. Understanding why they’re so rubbish at sustainability is rather harder. The fact that something is necessary – incontrovertibly necessary, I would argue – doesn’t necessarily make it politically ‘sellable’. And it certainly doesn’t make it desirable.

And before anyone starts chucking in accusations of pots and kettles here, let’s be absolutely clear that most environmental organisations struggle with desirability at least as much as politicians struggle with sustainability. By and large, most of our big-picture narratives are shaped by the grim reality of what’s been going on out there over the last 50 years, rather than by the celebratory prospect of better (much better!) things to come.

This is not an either/or story. To a certain extent, we’re trapped. We simply have to go on bearing witness to that grim reality. As an Ambassador for WWF here in the UK, I know how their hearts sink at that moment, every two years, when they issue the latest Living Planet Report – just out a week ago. You can’t just stick a little smiley on the fact that, in less than two generations, population sizes of vertebrates have dropped by more than 50%. How else could they respond other than with words of this kind:

“These are the living forms that constitute the fabric of the ecosystems which sustain life on Earth. By taking more from our ecosystems and natural processes than can be replenished, we are jeopardising our very future.”

Spot on. However, it ain’t going to be getting those Millennials working their thumbs. How could it?

But we’re also not very good at working out what kind of ‘messaging’ works and what is just doomed to die a certain death. I’ve just finished reading George Marshall’s ‘Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired To Ignore Climate Change’. Some of his chapter sub-headings tell a sorry story: ‘Why We Don’t Really Care What Our Children Think’. Probably true – so why keep on appealing to the interests of our children and our children’s children? ‘Why Polar Bears Make It Harder To Accept Climate Change’. So stop using them in your campaigning! ‘Why Climate Science Does Not Move People’.

For me, that’s the real killer. We just can’t go beyond our conviction that the science of climate change is now so rock solid that everyone will just react accordingly. Despite the overwhelming evidence that they just don’t, and won’t.

Happily, beyond the grim reality and beyond the limitations of science, lies a very different impulse: unconstrained excitement at the rising surge of brilliant organisations and people already crafting the solutions to today’s converging crises.

And that’s where comes in – providing a dynamic and authentic showcase for people to participate in, to celebrate, to share, and to draw on to change their own lives and the lives of others. The premise is a very simple one: everything we need to co-create a sustainable world is already out there. The pace of innovation accelerates all the time. Investors are finally getting the hang of finding the right deals. Even the mainstream media are waking up.

So let’s get all that out there, in a way that resonates with young people today, so they can keep on celebrating the genius of the human spirit rather than having to turn away from all that is ugly and destructive about our current way of life.

And once that happens, with enough young people beating down the doors of our political parties, demanding that they find their way into the 21st Century, we might even see some change on that front too!