World Population Reaches 8 Billion
The United Nations has projected that the world’s human population will reach 8 billion on November 15. The UN notes that the milestone is both a cause for celebration and a call to address the challenges and opportunities of growing human populations.
Global problems such as climate change and pandemics tend to affect more profoundly the segments of humanity already burdened with poverty, hunger, and lack of access to education, health care, and reproductive rights, observes the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Yet, achieving this milestone reflects advancements that have increased life expectancy and lowered infant and maternal mortality rates, points out Natalia Kanem, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund.
“This is a success story, not a doomsday scenario. Our world, despite its challenges, is one where higher shares of people are educated and live healthier lives than at any previous point in history,” Kanem is quoted in a press release. “Focusing exclusively on population totals and growth rates misses the point—and often leads to coercive and counter-productive measures and the erosion of human rights.”
Read “World Population Prospects 2022,” United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (released July 11, 2022).
In Memoriam: Nafis Sadik
Pakistani physician and former executive director of the UN Population Fund, Nafis Sadik died at her home in Manhattan on August 14. She was 92, within a few days of her 93rd birthday.
Sadik is credited with promoting women’s right to their own reproductive choices, developing programs to help ensure women’s sexual health and safety. In the agency’s State of World Population report in 1990, she urged nations to invest in human resources, including education and the development of a diversity of reproductive technologies.
“Investment in human resources provides a firm base for rapid economic development and could have a significant impact on the environmental crisis,” she wrote. “It is essential for global security. … Whatever the future returns, investment is needed now.”
Read “Nafis Sadik, women’s health and rights champion, dies at 92” by Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press (August 16, 2022).
Heads Up: Annual Reports
Foresight Signals will be looking for summaries of your 2022 futures work (groups and individuals) to publish in the December issue (rather than January). The futures-community annual reports will be combined with the AAI Foresight Inc. annual report in our final double issue.
Reports should be about 200 words or fewer, noting projects, publications, initiatives, awards, career transitions, etc. You may also note any plans you have for 2023 and beyond. For guidance, check out the 2021 summaries here. Deadline is November 30. Contact Cindy at CynthiaGWagner@gmail.com.
Moves in the Field
- Advance Notice is a new foresight community founded by spiritual futurist Emily Empel. AN is “a vision studio and dreaming collective, helping individuals and organizations connect with their dream future in weird and wonderful ways.” Also joining the staff is foresight researcher Jessie Shen. [Learn more]
- Learning engineer and software and curriculum designer Maria Andersen is starting a new position as high school and middle school teacher at Beehive Science & Technology Academy, a platinum level STEM charter school based in Sandy, Utah. She will be teaching entrepreneurship for the high-school students and technology and society for the middle schoolers.
- The World Academy of Art and Science has elected transformational leadership consultant Mila Popovich, founder of EVOLving Leadership, to its Board of Trustees. She has served WAAS in a variety of capacities, including chairing its Partnership Development Committee. [Learn more]
Recognizing Top Women Futurists
Consultant and speaker Ross Dawson has added 25 names to a list he’s maintained since 2015 of women currently working as futurists around the world. [Disclosure: He’s included me on the list for some time. --CGW]
Among the women Dawson has added are a few who perhaps ought to have been listed long ago, including Roxanne Meadows, who partnered with the late Jacque Fresco to develop The Venus Project in Florida, and “GeroFuturist” Karen Sands, author of Gray is the New Green and other work promoting opportunities in the longevity economy.
The list now numbers 203 women working in the futures field, and Dawson encourages input on professionals who should be added. [Learn more]
Readings and Resources
- Report: The Security & Sustainability Guide has posted senior principal Michael Marien’s summary of 10 recently released reports featuring analyses that help advance the UN’s sustainable development goals. See “Report on Recent Reports – #2, Summer 2022” (posted August 24, 2022).
- Report: The Millennium Project has assessed five key elements of the UN’s 2021 Our Common Future report: (1) UN Futures Lab, (2) UN Summit on the Future, (3) UN Envoy for Future Generations, (4) Periodic UN Strategic Foresight and Global Threats reports, and (5) Re-purposed UN Trusteeship Council as a Multi-Stakeholder Foresight Body. TMP’s study used the Real-Time Delphi tool to draw on the analysis and expertise of members of its 70 global nodes. [Download PDF]
- Tool: The Futures School is offering a free download of its Futures Wheel template designed to help professors, strategists, and other nonfuturists “think proactively 10+ years out.” Based on concepts originally developed by Jerome C. Glenn, the new version uses the STEEP framework to analyze drivers of change in society, technology, environment, economy, and politics. “We call this version of the tool ‘Drivers Wheels’ because STEEP represents drivers of change. It’s easier to imagine implications when we consider an issue’s impacts to society, technology, the economy, and so forth.” [Learn more]
- Article: “A Futurist Reveals How To Easily Plan For 2032” by Lisa Bodell, founder and CEO of FutureThink in New York, posted at Forbes’ site Forbeswomen (July 18, 2022). Excerpt: “[M]y go-to technique for long-term planning is called Picture the Future. It helps people strengthen their skills of visualization and learn how to effectively communicate innovative ideas.”
- Article: “Technology for Whom? Owning Our Platforms” by Minsun Ji, Nonprofit Quarterly (posted August 10, 2022) argues for returning the sharing economy to the sharers. The article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of the Nonprofit Quarterly focusing on “Owning Our Economy, Owning Our Future.” [Download magazine version]
- Article: “Our business schools have a blindspot that’s hindering a more co-operative culture” by Gregory Patmore, The Conversation (posted June 2, 2022). The skills required to run co-operatives and other organizations democratically are rarely taught in business schools, to the detriment of the future social fabric, argues Patmore, Emeritus Professor of Business and Labour History at the University of Sydney. [Signal courtesy of Club of Amsterdam Journal, September 2022]
Quotations About the Future and Why They Inspire Us
Commentary by Cindy Wagner
It may be comforting to know that we today are not alone in our aspirations and apprehensions about tomorrow. Humans have long troubled themselves to reflect on the past, imagine the future, and create “wisdom,” either for their personal benefit (as in the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius) or to share their conclusions with others.
There are many sources for inspirational quotations. Few are devoted exclusively to thoughts about the future, but the Wisdom Page has archived a massive collection of Wisdom Quotes, curated by Bruce Lloyd, emeritus professor of strategic management at London South Bank University. The goal, he writes, is “to focus on what it would be useful for us all to learn, and then pass on to future generations—if we are seriously concerned about trying to make the world a better place in the future.”
For the past couple of years, I have been sharing a few such quotations in Foresight Signals, which I have now collected in one place.
As an editor I have tried to ensure accuracy and include somewhat more detailed sourcing than one typically finds online (beware, in particular, of Facebook memes). Some of my long-standing favorite quotations have proved, well, inaccurate. For instance, I could find no written source for Mahatma Gandhi’s famous admonition, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” though he may have spoken these words, in this way, during his lifetime.
I’ve been finding far more wisdom languishing in my own bookshelves than I care to admit. The words of today’s futurists echo the wisdom—and warnings—of many decades of foresight and insight. To take but one example, Duane Elgin wrote, in Voluntary Simplicity (1981; rev. 1993), about the interconnectedness of our social and economic systems and the health of the planet that sustains them:
Only with greater equity can we expect to live peacefully, and only with greater harmony can we expect to live sustainably.
As I hope to continue “reading the past,” I am certain to uncover even more valuable wisdom for future-writing and will update my blog post on an ongoing basis.
See “Signal Thoughts,” Foresight Signals blog (posted August 14, 2022).
“Waste no time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book Ten, No. 16