This year´s trendspotting conference in Copenhagen was all things Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 goals established by the United Nations in 2015 cover many different topics spanning from poverty, the planet and peace. We are now for five years on the way to vision 2030 and it seems fitting to have all hands-on deck to delve deeper into the great work that still needs to be done.

Although this year’s format was adapted to the current COVID-19 restrictions, the quality of the content was definitely not compromised.  

The speakers covered many topics, but some recurring themes emerged:

What’s the Future?

SDG superhero, Marc Buckley, challenged us to think about a new meaning to ‘WTF’ and start to question ‘What’s the Future?’. Can we really save the planet with solely improving our currently ways of being? Or do we need to pivot completely? Marc compared our current approach of slowing down consumption to stabbing someone slowly—the damage is still being done. The solution requires a pivot to circularity and creating loops, as there is no throwing something away when there’s no place to put it.

Robert Marc Lehmann, National Geographic photographer and marine biologist, also challenged us to consider the future for life under water. This often overlooked ecosystem is under great threat due to pollution and overfishing. As our greatest source of oxygen and a large source of food, what will the future look like if we do not make major changes?

Building Capacity

How do we save the planet with only partial participation? Zarifa Ghafari, politician and activist, shared her experiences fighting for equal gender rights in Afghanistan. Although she is risking her life to do so in her country, this problem is not exclusive to her or her home. (As per the United Nations) only four nations in the world have achieved gender equality. This provides a huge deficit in fighting other global issues as well.

Benjamin Adrion, founder of Viva con Agua, hits on a similar point. The average age in many (especially developing) countries is much lower than the ages of the people responsible for policies—if we do not activate the majority than how can activate sustainable change?

Behavior Change

One thing’s for certain, new behaviors are required to enable change. Diana Arsovic Nielsen demonstrates this with her innovations for the already future thinking Copenhagen. By implementing bottom-up projects, the city enables the residents to truly walk (or cycle) the talk. Super bike lines (think bicycle autobahns) and gourmet hospital food are just a few examples of these purpose-driven projects the city already has underway.

Daria Krivonos, from the Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies also touches on the science to behavior change. As an economist, she challenges our current methods of measurement and encourages a triple bottom line way of thinking. If we do not measure what matters, how can we improve what matters?

Overall, La Futura provided a meeting place for many brilliant minds and ideas. Another highlight was the panel discussion of our colleague Heiko Tullney about sustainability and circularity with Bruno J. Barthas from Igluu and Astrid Haury for Trash2Treasur moderated by Cécile Cremer.

This hybrid event not only connected the virtual and physical but also brought together individuals across many different disciplines and backgrounds. While a trend safari through the city of Copenhagen took place on-site, online participants could conduct interviews with the speakers. This cross-pollination of ideas provided a rich and powerful experience.  Perhaps the greatest theme of all was (arguably) the most frequently used word in the two days– change.

Sarah Crooks

Managing Director

Sarah leads the community building and business development in New York bringing an American-European perspective to the table. As a self-proclaimed curious mind, she believes everyone (and everything) has a story.

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