This is the vision of the future we want

12 November, 2021

In a fascinating example of leadership from the bottom up, COP26 endorsed the launch of a programme that takes account of the views and desires of people in six areas of the world who made clear what they want for their future.

The project began several months before the Glasgow summit and canvassed the views of young people, indigenous and rural communities, civil society, business and industry. The result was the publication of Futures We Want that gives voice to people who might not otherwise have been heard.

And what they want is a net zero world with commitments to clean electricity generation, careful agriculture, efficient waste and water management, green building design, reforestation and ocean conservation. This may sound familiar and has been hailed already among achievements in Glasgow. Fortunately, the calls from the citizens of the globe have a number of influential backers including the British government, Deloitte and WSP whose leaders announced their ongoing support at a Resilience Hub reception.

Everyone committed to Futures We Want is aiming at the same net zero target because they see the potential for new jobs in greener economies, better health care and quality of life and sustainable food and water supplies.

Explaining the Futures We Want project, COP26 said: ‘To create a globally net zero, climate-resilient world by 2050, there are two things we need to know:

This project brings together both.’

Six groups of academic experts created reports on their region’s possible futures. Then six groups of citizens shared their hopes and ideas based on those reports.

‘This gives us something new: visions of a globally net zero, climate-resilient world that people actually want to live in.’

The six areas chosen as representative of the wider world were the Arabian Peninsular (specifically Saudi Arabia and UAE), Kenya, Jamaica, India, Brazil and the UK

Here’s a flavour of what came out from the consultation as young people looked forward to their country or area in a climate resilient net-zero 2050:

Arabian Peninsular – We’re expecting greener deserts and a circular economy built on a more diverse energy mix. New and more sustainable ways of farming and of living that protect natural resources and help people adapt to the effects of climate change

Jamaica -The picture for 2050. Resilient root and tuber crops. Natural protection from storms through restored reefs and mangrove swamps and island-wide economic opportunities unlocked by new infrastructure and new models of tourism.

Brazil – Harnessing the power of Amazon’s biodiversity and raising the standard of living with green infrastructure. Using forest-friendly farming techniques to balance food security, economic growth and environmental protection. People need to take environmental action seriously and understand that the negative impacts of things like pollution affect everybody.

Kenya – we look to a natural landscape for indigenous crops. Accessible healthcare systems built to survive changing climates and solar infrastructure powering towns and communities. By 2050 Kenya may be a clean energy powerhouse. Wind and solar power will help meet the energy demands of households, manufacturing and the commercial sector, while surplus energy could be exported to fund economic development.

India – I hope we can expand energy access, enhance production and increase efficiency in a clean and sustainable way. By 2050 the hope is for agroforestry across the subcontinent with traditional organic soil composting in the Himalayas. Electric bikes, solar homes and wetland waste systems. India will have shifted decisively away from fossil fuels. Local renewables generation – especially solar – coupled with battery and hydrogen storage will give rural communities more autonomy, while creating green jobs.

UK -I want to see negative emissions so we can focus on rebuilding the climate. By 2050 carbon emissions are captured and reused in a range of industries, from agriculture to fizzy drinks. Renewable energy is storable and flexible thanks to infrastructure investment. The UK’s homes have moved to low carbon heating.

Alok Sharma, president of COP26, said: ‘These visions of a net zero world outline how a transition to a climate-resilient future can act as a real opportunity to create new green jobs, build sustainable economies and boost the health and quality of life for millions.’

Hannah Routh, climate change and sustainability partner at Deloitte who helped lead the project, said: ‘We hope that policy-makers, negotiators and other decision-makers can use these visions to inspire and catalyse climate action. This collaborative approach is essential if these visions are to become a reality in the coming years.’

Main image: some of the contributors to the Future We Want project from Arabian Peninsular, UK, Jamaica

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