Key Trends for a Sustainable Future
Key changes, trends and opportunities for a sustainable future in a range of sectors from transportation and agriculture to plastics and blockchain technology have been identified in a new report.
NGO Forum for the Future (FFF) has published the Future of Sustainability 2018: Living in Nonlinear Times, a report which focuses on several “areas of dynamism” that are already changing societies and which will have a profound effect in the coming years.
One key trend is the emergence of blockchain – the report investigates how utilising a decentralised database may complement other technologies and help make a real positive impact, in particular on agriculture and the supply chain.
The report points out that blockchain has now emerged from being simply the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies, saying: “The Blockchain is most powerful when combined with other technologies, such as with the Internet of Things (IOT), enabling specific items to be logged along complex journeys (from farm to plate, for instance), or with drone surveillance, enabling decisions to be taken by decentralised robotic systems (such as acting to quell a forest fire after detecting smoke from multiple sources).”
One example the report uses to illustrate the potential of blockchain is Akshaya Patra, an Indian NGO that runs the world’s largest mid-day meal programme of its kind. It has teamed up with Accenture to use blockchain to improve meal delivery to schoolchildren.
The system ensures accurate invoicing and reporting and gives real-time feedback for a better service provision. The efficiency gains will allow the group to provide one million more meals per year, showing the power of decentralised ledgers to deliver immediate benefits across complex societal systems.
Other sectors the report looks into include:
- Transport/mobility: Vehicle manufacturers and increasing numbers of nations have made new commitments for a switch to electric vehicles, which promise a revolution in transportation. Significant investment in infrastructure will be needed but will result in efficiencies in supply chains and distribution, as well as having a positive environmental impact.
- Regenerative agriculture: New approaches towards agriculture will combine with new technology to potentially provide healthy food and regenerate depleted land resources for a sustainable farming model. The benefits to both society and the environment will be enormous if this sustainable approach is taken up.
- Plastic waste: The report highlights that action to tackle the problem of plastic waste – in particular its effect on marine life – started to pick up during 2017. However, far-reaching changes in supply chains, packaging, recycling and a move to a circular production model are required to address the problem effectively.
The report also investigates the importance of the space age to helping find a sustainable future for the planet, as well as looking at retail systems, business models and demographics.