New international COP26 project showcases desirable and achievable visions for a net zero future across six diverse regions of the world.

Following four months of international collaboration between academics, business, civil society and citizens across the globe, the COP26 Futures We Want project, unveiled today, shines hope for an achievable, beneficial, resilient and desirable global net zero future for nations across the world.

Bridging the gap between scientific evidence and citizen insight through a series of virtual workshops, this global project commissioned ahead of the UK’s COP Presidency, brought together young people, indigenous and rural communities, civil society, business and industry from across six regions of the world, using world-class research and evidence to envision their priorities, hopes and desires for their future.

Including communities from the UK, Jamaica, Brazil, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and India, this COP26 flagship science and innovation programme explored diverse perspectives and solutions to the day-to-day impacts of climate change such as electricity generation, agriculture, waste and water management, building design, reforestation and ocean conservation.

The global group of citizens explored the range of net zero and resilience solutions that exist across the world, and recognised how achieving this future would bring wide-ranging opportunities and benefits such as the creation of new jobs, improving our health and quality of life, and securing sustainable food and water supplies.

COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma said:

The science is clear, we must act now to put the world on a path to net zero emissions if we are to limit global warming and keep 1.5c within reach. This means all countries, businesses and individuals have an important part to play.

These visions of a Net Zero world, published today ahead of COP26, outline how a transition to a climate-resilient future can act as a real opportunity to create new green jobs, build sustainable economies and boost the health and quality of life for millions.

These visions, which will be showcased at COP26, highlight achievable and desirable solutions to climate change, and celebrate international collaboration and science and innovation, ensuring these are at the heart of November’s COP26 negotiations.

Paul Monks, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Champion of the Futures We Want project said:

Science and innovation are a powerful tools that we must use to inform ambitious climate action as we work towards a desirable global net zero future. International collaboration of academics and governments is essential in achieving a just transition to a climate resilient future and understanding citizen perspectives, including indigenous communities and youth, will guide us down a realistic and deliverable path to a future with wide-ranging opportunities and co-benefits.

Hannah Routh, climate change and sustainability partner at Deloitte who helped lead the project, said:

This project brought together civil society, academia, business and government to create compelling visions of a net zero, climate resilient future. This collaborative approach is essential if these visions are to become a reality in the coming years.

In the run-up to COP26 and beyond, we hope that policy-makers, negotiators and other decision-makers can use these visions to inspire and catalyse climate action.

Emily Shuckburgh, director of Cambridge Zero, and chair of the project’s International Expert Committee said:

COP26 can be the start of building a new, positive future if there is sufficient ambition. Partners and collaborators from around the world helped us to put citizens and evidence at the heart of informing policy.

Together, we visualised a set of possible desirable futures by identifying many of the challenges and solutions that must be addressed to achieve a global zero-carbon future that is just and beneficial for all.

Colin Wood, Chief Executive – Europe, AECOM said:

Bringing together academia, industry and local citizens, Futures We Want provides valuable insight on how people can become more engaged with climate action. Efforts to tackle climate change will have limited success without the involvement of local citizens; leveraging that local knowledge will be key to achieving a resilient, net-zero future. AECOM is proud to have been a part of this trailblazing collaboration that is helping regions envisage their own mitigation, adaptation and resilient futures.

Jonathan Shanahan, sustainability campaigns director at Radley Yeldar said:

This project’s strengths flow from its human-centred, localised responses to our shared global crisis. Urgent regional impacts were confronted with local institutions, technologies, and culture. This generated stunning creative energy.

By then elevating these responses to a global frame of reference, we begin to see how regional mindsets and strengths can weave a network of complementary solutions with positive cumulative impact on a planetary scale.

Dr Linda Nkatha Gichuyia, Kenyan Expert Committee member said:

The Futures We Want Project provides a refreshed inventory of the latest scientific evidence and a compendium of actions by state and non-state actors around climate action. The way it has blended the distinct cultures of Science, Policy and Human service illustrates how achieving Net-Zero and climate resilience is feasible worldwide. This co-created visions ahead of the COP26 conference in November provide invaluable decision-relevant insights and actionable approaches to deliver ambitious, farsighted, and inclusive commitments to a just Net-Zero and climate-resilient future.

For example, the Arabian Peninsula’s vision for a resilient, net zero future welcomes the development of green deserts, improved water security, seawater greenhouses and solar thermal power generation. Brazil’s vision showcases the need for innovative businesses that harness and celebrate the Amazon’s biodiversity, and agroecology practices that increase yields and make crops more climate resilient.

India’s vision harnesses the country’s best assets to power its homes with solar energy and use nature-based solutions, like wetland waste systems, to supply communities with clean water, while Jamaica envisions implementing world-leading natural protection from hurricanes and floods through restored reefs and mangrove coastal swamps to protect its citizens and the environment.

The United Kingdom’s vision makes the most of its resources as a coastal nation, championing its role as part of a global net zero community that trades with and learns from other nations, always with a focus on sustainable business. Kenya’s vision sees solar powered drip irrigation systems, greater use of indigenous crops, and health systems that can withstand climate change and remain accessible for all. 

As holders of this year’s G7 and COP26 Presidency, today’s launch builds on the Government’s promise to lead both the UK and the nations of the world in supporting a just, global transition to a climate-resilient, net-zero future - one that unleashes green jobs, cleaner air and increasing prosperity, without harming the planet and intensifying impacts of climate change.

With just two months to go until the COP26 conference in Glasgow the COP Presidency is committed to working together with the nations of the world to build back greener, secure a global net zero and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.

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