Sustainable Futures

IAF’s work on sustainable futures extends into three key areas: environment, pro-poor foresight, and development futures.


Vulnerability 2030: Scenarios on Vulnerability in the United States

In 2010, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation commissioned IAF to develop a set of scenarios describing the alternative futures of vulnerability and vulnerable populations in the U.S. in the year 2030. The project was part of the Foundation’s Vulnerable Populations Program, which addresses critical connections between health and social circumstances. IAF analyzed and assessed several major driving forces and factors including, but not limited to, the economy and employment, Internet and communications, environment, policy, food and diet, education, and technology.  IAF also created a scenario toolkit and videos for organizations to consider the implications of the Vulnerability 2030 Scenarios for their own strategies and operations. Click here for more information.

GAO Climate Engineering Assessment

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology requested that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a technology assessment of climate engineering methods. The GAO asked IAF Senior Futurist Clem Bezold and Senior Fellow Bob Olson to facilitate the development of four alternative scenarios for research, policy, legislation, and implementation actions over the next 20 years regarding these technologies. GAO used these scenarios to elicit expert perspectives for the assessment report on the future of climate engineering research. The report, “Climate Engineering: Technical Status, Future Directions, and Potential Responses,” was released in July of 2011 and is available here.

Pro-Poor Scenario Toolkit

In a project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, IAF has developed a scenario toolkit, including a set of forecasts for the year 2030, for use by communities in the global South.  Communities can submit their scenarios of the future and may win one of several prizes.  Click here to learn more and to download the Pro-Poor Scenario Toolkit and a set of global forecasts for the year 2039 for use in the scenario development process.


Geoengineering for Decision Makers

In November 2011 the Science and Technology Innovation Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars released “Geoengineering for Decision Makers,” authored by IAF Senior Fellow Bob Olson. The report, which received attention from the New York Times, deals with governance issues and concerns involved in developing and using geoengineering technologies being considered to counter global climate change, offering recommendations for decision makers. It puts forth a moral case for pursuing R&D as insurance against a tipping point for runaway climate change, positing that policy makers should not have to choose between dangerous climate change and full scale deployment of poorly researched, untested technologies. The report and a webcast of its launch are available here.

The Future of Microfinance Impact Assessment

IAF vice president Eric Meade presented a paper on the future of microfinance impact assessment at a conference in Glasgow to celebrate the 70th birthday of Prof. Muhammad Yunus, who was in attendance.  Click here for the paper.

Foresight for Smart Globalization: Accelerating & Enhancing Pro-Poor Development Opportunities

With support from the Rockefeller Foundation, IAF convened a workshop of futurists from around the world to explore opportunities for implementing foresight focused on pro-poor solutions in the global South.  Click here for the summary report.