The importance of futures thinking for collaborative climate and energy futures

By Fisayo Oyewale

As a foresight practitioner, I am intrigued by how futures thinking is applied to specfic issues and the voices that go into imagining alternative futures in particular niches. Climate and Energy is one of my interest areas. This is why I was so energetic to implement the Climate and Energy Futures Lab that was held at the COP27 Children and Youth Pavilion.

The session was an opportunity to bring together different generations to rethink different futures over a 10-year time horizon while using their creative futures lenses. My experiences were different yet unique as I wore the hats of an event organiser, attendee, and facilitator. As a first-timer at COP, organising the resources with my team and thinking through step by step to curate the experience of participants was both challenging and enjoyable. It was crucial to consider every aspect of making the event participatory and immersive for children, youths, and adults as they traveled quickly through a variety of alternative futures.

Taking on my facilitator hat, I saw the lab design come to life in front of my eyes. Across the six groups, we invited the attendees to imagine their probable, preferred and reframed climate and energy futures. To unveil their agency and bring them closer to the future, we asked them to send a message to COP37 and imagine their roles in it. A 9-year-old girl in my group, who was exceptionally curious about futures, passionately articulated her preferred future to be a world that no longer needs climate activists. This demonstrated how important it is for young people to offer their perspectives on global platforms around the various futures they would like to live in. In a spirit of urgency, both the youths and adults were eager to raise awareness of how catastrophic the climate’s probable futures would be if current trends continued. I found the intergenerational perspectives on climate and energy futures to be fantastic because they naturally fit with the COP27 theme – “together for implementation” – and the goals of collective climate and energy action.

My primary insights from participating in COP27 in a variety of roles revolve around the necessity of equipping all stakeholders across generations with futures thinking. Just before we get to any of these futures, this futures literacy empowerment brings us way closer to experiencing various future scenarios. This experience is crucial as we transition from generational silo imaginations to collaborative futures and act to safeguard all forms of life on Earth.

*Fisayo Oyewale is an agriculturist, a fellow, and a member of the Next Generation Foresight Practitioners Network (NGFP Network), a UNICEF Youth Foresight Fellow, and a SOIF alumna working at the intersection of agriculture, technology, and futures.