An international network of experts collaborating on an online platform through a facilitated process to explore solutions to global systemic challenges.

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Jennifer Garard

Deputy Director, Sustainability in the Digital Age, Canada Hub

About Futures CoLab

Futures CoLab partners with decision-makers from a range of sectors and disciplines to help them rapidly tap into the collective intelligence of experts from around the world to tackle climate-related implications. Through a facilitated and asynchronous dialogue process on our web platform, these experts explore the implications of global systemic challenges and possible responses. The outcomes are synthesized into products relevant to the partnering organizations’ needs.

Society is grappling with a rapidly changing world where pressing global threats continue to emerge. Futures CoLab provides a custom platform and process to enable decision-makers in government, business and civil society to connect with researchers and innovators on the most pressing questions they face. Our goal is not to predict or explain these unfolding challenges. Rather, we help investors and decision-makers explore the implications of global changes and the possible responses.

Futures CoLab, launched in 2017, is a collaboration between Future Earth and the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence

Current Exercise

The Futures CoLab exercise—Disrupting Systems for Global Sustainability—took place from March 4 – March 24, 2019. This exercise brought together experts from science, policy, and tech and innovation communities to identify and explore levers that could disrupt the systems sustaining our unsustainability over the coming 10 years. The outcomes will be used to inform a Research and Innovation Agenda as part of Future Earth’s Sustainability in the Digital Age initiative.

Previous Exercise

In 2018, Futures CoLab conducted an online scenarios exercise in partnership with the ClimateWorks FoundationAlternative Futures for Climate Change—to identify forces that could affect the future strategies of climate philanthropists between now and 2050. Over 150 experts from science, government, business, and civil society participated. The final report, Broadening the Dialogue: Exploring Alternative Futures to Inform Climate Action, analyzes the four scenarios developed and unpacks some of the implications for climate philanthropy.

In 2017, Futures CoLab undertook an online scenarios exercise in partnership with the Skoll Global Threats Fund to identify global risks that could be triggered or exacerbated by climate change. 88 participants with expertise in climate science, international relations, and national security engaged in the process. The result was a set of narratives outlining how seven under-recognized climate risks could unfold over the coming three to five years. A summary is available here.