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Imagine a future you want: creating a vision for COP26

Environmental, social & governance (ESG)

More businesses than ever have committed to a net-zero future. But what does that actually look like?

Ahead of COP26, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) wanted to spark an inclusive conversation on the best way to meet shared climate goals. 

It set the wheels in motion to create Futures We Want – an aspirational, achievable vision of a net zero, climate resilient and sustainable world in 2050.   

Shaped by voices from all over the world, it’s a powerful reminder of the importance of pulling together – sharing insight, skills and even a vision – to bring about change, security and prosperity in communities. 

As part of the consortium that delivered the project, we’re inspired by these visions of a net zero future we’d like to live in - and now we're connecting the dots to help make them a reality. 

A world to aspire to

Did you know that one hectare of mangroves planted on the Jamaican coast could reduce the costs of storm protection while also safeguarding livelihoods that depend on tourism? 

Or that more energy-efficient storage systems in India and Brazil could help reduce emissions while creating jobs and making energy sources more consistent?

Just a couple of the tangible solutions offered in Futures We Want, which shares visions of a sustainable world that’s not only desirable, but achievable.

Developed by a consortium of partners, it brings together the expert climate knowledge and aspirations of people living in the Arabian Peninsula, Brazil, India, Jamaica, Kenya and the UK.

Focused on four themes – water, energy, food and land, and the built environment – it pictures what a net-zero, climate resilient world could look like in these six regions in 2050, highlighting innovations that can turn the visions into reality.

“Imagine a climate resilient, net-zero world where solutions to our climate challenges are guided by experts and chosen by citizens.” – Futures We Want 

A new perspective

“BEIS was clear that the visions should provide a clear, new perspective,” says Deloitte partner Hannah Routh.

“So we wanted to bring experts together with citizens from across the regions to explore how we could tackle climate change, while creating opportunities and boosting quality of life.”

Through collaboration between Deloitte, the University of Cambridge, AECOM, One Young World and Radley Yeldar, six teams of multidisciplinary academic experts produced detailed reports on each region’s possible futures.

Then six diverse groups of citizens – including young people, women and local business owners – shared their hopes and ideas based on that insight.

Cambridge Zero’s Emily Shuckburgh, the lead UK expert, agrees that co-designing solutions to climate change is critical.

“I particularly appreciated that this was an inclusive collaboration between groups that don’t normally collaborate,” says Emily. “We made sure the people experiencing the changes – and would be experiencing them in the future – were front and centre.

”When COP26 came around, the partners were confident that delegates from all over the world would find them compelling.“As we all hoped, COP26 discussions led to global commitments on action to cut CO2 emissions, reduce coal usage and increase funding for developing countries to help adapt to the effects of climate change,” Hannah continues.

“I hope everyone who was involved in creating the visions or who reads them feels hopeful about what’s possible and inspired to contribute.”

Working together

Deloitte climate-tech expert Dr Siobhan Gardiner attended COP26 to share the visions on a global stage. 

Having worked on the visions across the regions, Siobhan is keen to highlight the importance of working together to achieve them in a way that works for everyone. 

“When it comes to achieving a net-zero future, there is a wealth of knowledge and huge potential to unlock,” says Siobhan. “Deloitte can be a catalyst to help bring about change.”

1. Bringing experts together

“We’ve made some wonderful relationships across the globe, and we have a rich opportunity to bring together this wide-ranging expertise, to evolve solutions and see tangible results. One area that came up several times during the research was the importance of our oceans, blue economy and resilience of coastal communities. We’re working with partners across the sectors on projects for ocean-based climate finance, nature regeneration and biodiversity protection.”

2. Helping businesses to understand the impact of climate change

“All businesses will be impacted by changes in energy, land and water systems. Those that understand what’s on the horizon are better placed to make strategic decisions today – about how their supply chains might be affected or how to embed net zero into their operations. We can play a role in taking them through this journey.”

3. Listening to different perspectives

“Being able to attend COP was a privilege, given the many voices we sought to elevate to at the summit. It allowed us to amplify conversations we’d had with communities across the globe about their vision: a net zero future they could actually see themselves in. As a result, we have a methodology for citizen engagement in collaboration with the UK Government and embassies across the globe, which can be used in future to listen to a wide range of perspectives and understand the specific ambitions and needs of different regions.”

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