Back in November 2022, I was scanning the COP27 Report, known as the Sharm-el-Sheikh Implementation Plan looking for signals of change.
In futures thinking and foresight practice, we look for these signals as specific events with the potential to make impact.
Now, whatever its flaws as an agreement, there smack bang on the front page of the plan, was the single, startling use of the words, “Mother Earth”.
“Noting the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including in forests, the ocean and the cryosphere, and the protection of biodiversity, recognized by some cultures as Mother Earth, and also noting the importance of ‘climate justice’, when taking action to address climate change…”
It was breath-taking.
These two words in an official global document signed by UN Member States. Written in ink, published, not to be erased: a tiny signal of change starting to transmit.
Then, in December 2022, geeking out again scanning the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, and there those words were again.
This time, they appear eight times. In the K-MGBF, they appear in the very first paragraph:
“1. Biodiversity is fundamental to human well-being and a healthy planet, and economic prosperity for all people. including for living well in balance and in harmony with Mother Earth, we depend on it for food, medicine, energy, clean air and water, security from natural disasters as well as recreation and cultural inspiration, and it supports all systems of life on earth.”
And they appear in targets 16 and 19, where they grew into another phrase, “Mother Earth Centric Actions” with a footnote explaining:
“Mother Earth Centric Actions: Ecocentric and rights-based approach enabling the implementation of actions towards harmonic and complementary relationships between peoples and nature, promoting the continuity of all living beings and their communities and ensuring the non-commodification of environmental functions of Mother Earth.”
It’s like someone walked past and threw the dial up to 11.
Watching the journey of these words, which are not new at all, and yet somehow in these official spaces are curiously awkward and tenderly young, is utterly compelling.
For me, seeing these words felt deeply profound. As a woman, they feel deliciously subversive, even revolutionary because they bring back the power of the feminine to the centre of our way forward. The use of them feels like an honouring of all the women who are not seen and not heard globally. Even more so perhaps, they serve as call to action to all of us to recognise the feminine energy within, regardless of gender, as the source of our deepest creativity.
Interpreting these words as signals brings a thrilling sensation of doing-things-differently, the very essence of innovation.
Because from signals come forecasts of possible, plausible futures. From forecasts, come scenarios as stories of where problems, unmet needs, longings and dreams are revealed. All of this story-telling does something more fundamental. It cultivates the conditions that we need to do Mother Earth Centric Innovation, to enable us to ‘story-into-being’ the solutions of value that bring the economics of flourishing described by Marianna Mazzucato, Kate Raworth and Julia Steinberger in their works.
What does doing Mother Earth Centric Innovation mean to you?
What does it mean about you?
How would choosing to do it now in your community of change define 2034?
I'll leave you with those questions. Check out the Mother Earth Centric Innovation class and sign up.
#futuresthinking #flourishing #strategicforesight #flourishingfuturescollective #motherearth #sdgs #sustainability
I was scared to publicly and visibly name myself a Climate Advocate.
In December 2023, I finally did it on my Linked In profile. That’s after 30 years of working in social change and the last 12 really focusing on sustainability innovation.
Why now? I felt vulnerable giving myself that label but I wanted to do it, as part of being – and sending out – a signal of change. I knew that I needed to plant a flag in the sand, of what makes me who I am, however the algorithms work for or against me.
I started to ask other people working for sustainability solutions, “Would you call yourself a Climate Advocate?” The answer was invariably, No.
That really made me wobble if I’m honest. I faffed around looking for another label to use. Then I started to ask, “Why?” or more to the point, “Why not?”
What I heard was, that we’re not comfortable being defined in ways that bring us into conflict with others, including family and friends. I heard shame. I heard fear. I heard the penny drop – ah ha, now is the time.
How do you feel about naming yourself a Climate Advocate?
Because, isn’t it how we inhabit and live the words that make the definition, at a time when we need to win hearts and minds of people everywhere for climate action? In these moments, we need to bridge the gap in our communities with the recognition that climate action IS the way to meet our needs for love, joy, livelihoods.
For me, naming myself feels like an act of coming home: a deep healing and permission to be on a shero quest to create flourishing futures by empowering people to imagine and create solutions. The more I inhabit the words, the stronger the signal of change that I send out.
If we name ourselves as Climate Advocates today, each living those words in our own way, creating a constellation of signals in our communities, what futures might we unfold?
#bethesignal #flourishingfutures #flourishing #strategicforesight #signals #futuresthinking #innovation #entrepreneurship #sustainability #sdgs #climateadvocate
There were moments back in April 2020 when, I swear, I heard the trees breathing. The planes had stopped flying, the sky was crystal clear day and night, clouds were clouds, not contrails masquerading; and the tinnitus of engine noise had ceased. A stillness like nothing I’ve ever known happened. It was stillness rather than quiet, because as it turns out Nature is spectacularly deafening.
And, I’d like to create that to be the normal. I want the reassuring susurrations of trees deafening me every day.
That moment was history in the making. The past grounds us in the present of recognizing that what happens right now, sees the future unfold. What we breathe, imagine, create now, manifests forward.
When I’m present to that understanding, actually it’s liberating, hope-filled, a call to action, galvanizing me out of fear because it gives me choices of how to arrive in each day.
Imagine July 2030, if we all show-up as climate advocates today?
Which is why, I think, that NOW is exactly the right time to fall in love…
with protecting the planet that breathes us,
with yourself and the purpose that’s living through you,
with your beloved ones who love you exactly as you are,
with dreaming a new narrative into existence.
Real love, is about being present to the now, knowing that it unfolds the future. It gives us the grace to braille our way forward step-by-step.
Which means it’s time to pop on our wonder-goggles to look at the world and create futures to be in love with.
If we’re looking with eyes of wonder at the world, then futures to love become more than possible. The seeds are planted for them to become real.
Key question…what is the future of air? It is after all our have-to-have value proposition for breathing. In 2030, what will air be like? When I look at that question without my wonder-goggles on, it’s a terrifying proposition. When I put them on, I am instantly connected to the possibilities of a planet restored with multiple nature-based and nature-inspired solutions.
Now, step back to today.
Put on your wonder-goggles, pick your gig, show-up as unprecedented you and imagine a more beautiful story.
No need to worry if you’ve forgotten how to put your wonder-goggles on (it’s ok…most adults have), then get in touch with me and we’ll go together.
So, “Would you like an adventure now, or would like to have your tea first?”
JM Barrie, Peter Pan
Actually, why not join the Flourishing Futures Collective and be part of a community whose big purpose is unfolding flourishing futures for all?
#flourishing #flourishingfuturescollective #bethesignal #signals #strategicforesight #foresight #futuresthinking #flourishingfutures
In the face of all that is going on in the world, there is something profoundly healing about remembering that the future is not predictable, the future is unfolded. Futures are unfolded by constellations of signals.
A signal is tangible, real, specific, vivid. It changes the environment around it. It disrupts, with the potential to grow and to shape the future.
In Strategic Foresight, one of the fundamentals is to scan for signals of change happening right now. We look all the time, for the emerging signals of change that are happening as external events, products, services, policies, innovative solutions.
What if, we look at the people behind those signals: at ourselves, tackling the problems that we are in-love with solving?
What if, instead of looking outside of ourselves, we recognized ourselves as the signals of change?
What if, you recognize yourself as a signal? Because, when you do, you embrace the agency that you have in each moment to unlock a next step forward. The future is not predictable, it is unfolded.
Taking humanitarian action, showing up to change status quo systems, inventing new solutions, connecting with people by nourishing their wellbeing…whatever your work is, these are times when we’re all in need of self-care as changemakers, to keep the faith in what we can contribute.
If you don’t see yourself as a signal now, then when?
Over the years, I have created a practice, Be The Signal. Believe me, when I say, that there’s something so deeply healing and hopeful and powerful when you use this practice in moments of joy and flow, as well as in those moments of fear, overwhelm, exhaustion, as a way of finding yourself and your courage, so that you can take the next step.
Come and experience it for yourself. To learn the practice, you can join me for a class, or get in touch about 1–1 sessions via email@example.com , or gift a session to someone who you know is struggling right now to find their way forward.
Let’s make this year, the one that we look back to from flourishing futures. Where we see ourselves, in a moment of grace, amongst the raging, fruitless storms of hate. As we peer through time, from then to now, and see the radiance of our unprecedented luminosity, like a constellation of lights popping on, lighting our way forward.
Going networking? If we want to make create the conditions for impact innovation that unfolds flourishing futures, we need to ask a new question.
Whether you’re going to a trade fair, conference, event, soiree, class…there are always some moments when you need and want to talk to with other people.
We say hello. Look at name badges, awkwardly, because they’re increasingly hard to read because of positioning or middle-aged eyesight. We state who we are. Name. Position (rank in the hierarchy, thus confirming the hierarchy). Organization.
And then, the dreaded question, “What do you do?”
To which, in response, we give back labels to each other and go into transmit mode.
I find, “What do you do?” incredibly difficult to answer. Not because I haven’t got an elevator pitch ready but because it seems to demand a transactional response and I don’t work in transactions. I work with humans. I work with Mother Earth. I work with problems and who has them. I work with ideas and solutions. I work with behaviours and needs. I work with the possible futures. I work to surface hopes and dreams of flourishing.
I find, “What do you do?” closes down the conversation to a logic that I don’t get, to a snap decision that we might not share values or purpose or expertise. It’s either, or. All or nothing. It promotes those ick moments when you’ve responded and someone decides you’re not worth talking to.
I propose something different instead, for all of us. A new question as a signal of change.
Don’t ask, “What do you do?” when you meet someone.
Ask, “Who do you help?”
There’s something so profoundly “opening” and “open-hearted” about “Who do you help?”
I’ve been asking this question and it changes everything in the dynamic. It’s the great leveller of age, experience and expertise. It’s an invitation to bring multiple perspectives into a shared space.
As a question, it’s an invitation to share, to reflect, to explore the problems that you’re in-love with, and even to acknowledge that you don’t know who you help.
Even if you ask it in anger, in judgement, with assumptions, you may find these challenged…or at least you will have more insights and so will the person that you’re speaking to. (There are many politicians that I’d like to ask this question).
Asking someone, “Who do you help?” acknowledges them as a problem-solver…or with the potential to be a problem-solver, a change-maker, an impactivator, an unfolder of flourishing futures.
It immediately creates that space for a Venn diagram of shared purpose, of diverse perspectives and the need for diversity. However, you also need to be prepared for an existential crisis happening in front of you, so be kind. You are planting seeds of disruption amongst the status quo.
How would you answer, “Who do you help?”
What if, the next time that you’re at any kind of event, gathering, conference, get-together, you ask this question, knowing that it’s a signal of change unfolding infinite possible futures?
Ask it and listen to the hope and optimism manifesting in front of you. Share your own response and notice what happens.
#strategicforesight #foresight #futuresthinking #impactinnovation #innovation #impactentrepreneurship #unsdgs #climateaction #flourishing #flourishingfutures #signals #bethesignal