Club of Amsterdam Journal, April 2021, Issue 231

Journals Archive
The Future Now Shows



Lead Article

African Renaissance: When Art Meets Power
Ethiopia / Senegal / Kenya

with Afua Hirsch

Article 01

3 Questions: How philosophy can address the problem of climate change
By Kieran Setiya

The Future Now Show

China, the US and Europe
with James M. Dorsey

Article 02

Achieving gender equality in India: what works, and what doesn’t
By Smriti Sharma

News about the Future

> Ultralightweight, Crush-Resistant Tensegrity metamaterials
> Horizon Europe is the EU’s research and innovation framework programme running from 2021-2027

Article 03

Nano Coated Salt Technology
By Just Have a Think

Recommended Book

Nature Obscura: A City's Hidden Natural World
By Kelly Brenner

Article 04

Creative Sustainability
Except Integrated Sustainability

Climate Change Success Story


Futurist Portrait

Bruno Mario
The Futurist Monk

Arts, Batteries, China, Climate Change,
Creativity, Ethiopia, Europe, Futurist, Gender,
India, Innovation, Kenya, MUSIC, PHILOSOPHY,
Senegal, Sustainability, USA

Club of Amsterdam Search
Submit your article


Felix B Bopp

James M. Dorsey is an independent, geopolitical analyst based in Singapore.

Afua Hirsch: "It probably sounds as if I do a lot of very different things but there is a theme that threads through everything I do: trying to make sense of the injustice and unfairness I see in the world around me."

Bruno Mario: "Chaos theories offer us 3 totally new and innovative tools. The strange attractor / The Butterfly Effect /
Fractal images."

Lead Article

African Renaissance: When Art Meets Power
Ethiopia / Senegal / Kenya
With Afua Hirsch

Afua Hirsch is a Norwegian-born British writer, broadcaster and former barrister. She has worked as a journalist for The Guardian newspaper, and was the Social Affairs and Education Editor for Sky News from 2014 until 2017.

Afua Hirsch shows Africa on its own terms, exploring the histories of Ethiopia, Senegal and Kenya through their extraordinary art, music and culture.


African Renaissance - When Art Meets Power


In Ethiopia, Afua Hirsch traces a proud 3,000-year history as significant as any civilisation in the west. A beacon for the black diaspora, Ethiopia’s story is one of defiant independence, of kings and communists, of a country that has survived catastrophe but bounced back, underpinned by a culture inspired by an ancient faith and devotion.

At the heart of recent Ethiopian history is the complex reign of Emperor Haile Selassie. One of the most influential world figures of the 20th century, he was the midwife to African liberation and the generator of a global culture in Rastafarianism. Yet ultimately, Haile Selassie was a tragic figure.

With renowned artist Eshetu Tiruneh, Afua explores the impact of the 1974 famine that led to the emperor’s downfall, and she talks to photographer Aida Muluneh about her return from exile to the dynamic new Ethiopia of the 21st century responding to the dark days of the past.

African Renaissance - When Art Meets Power


In Senegal, a French-speaking nation of 15 million people in the far west of Africa, Afua Hirsch discovers a country with a cultural influence far beyond its size, with dynamic film, fashion and hip-hop scenes that have fed off historic power struggles and culture clashes, both between ancient empires and against French colonisers. She traces the story of Leopold Senghor, a poet who became the father of Senegalese independence and redefined what Africa is. She explores cities with exuberant murals and street culture that respond to the past, and she meets internationally acclaimed choreographer Germaine Acogny, griot musician Diabel Cissokho and hip-hop legend DJ Awadi.


African Renaissance - When Art Meets Power


In Kenya, a state created barely a century ago, Afua Hirsch explores how the British spun an idealised stereotype while carving out a brutal empire. Afua reveals the extremes of life today, the urban sprawl and untouched outback, and a young population still pushing away the lingering darkness of the British imperial past.

In an epic narrative that takes in railway building, Karen Blixen, President Jomo Kenyatta and the brutal British suppression of the 1950s Mau Mau Uprising, she charts how artists have responded to history happening around them. She meets acclaimed Kenyan painters Dennis Muraguri and Michael Soi and discusses the after-effects of the British colonial period and China’s growing influence as a new power in East Africa.



Article 01

3 Questions: How philosophy can address the problem of climate change
By Kieran Setiya

MIT professor of philosophy
Kieran Setiya explores how individuals and societies can think about and act on climate change. -
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS)

"Is the obligation to act on climate change a matter of distributive justice, restitution, or insurance against catastrophe? Which should be our focus? These questions bridge theory and practice, moral principle and political strategy," says philosopher Kieran Setiya. "I want my MIT students to think about ethics beyond the limits of problem-solving, to explore not just the demands of morality but ideals of human flourishing."

Science and technology are essential tools for innovation, and to reap their full potential, we also need to articulate and solve the many aspects of today’s global issues that are rooted in the political, cultural, and economic realities of the human world. With that mission in mind, MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences has launched "The Human Factor" — an ongoing series of stories and interviews that highlight research on the human dimensions of global challenges. As the editors of the journal Nature have said, framing such questions effectively — incorporating all factors that influence the issue — is a key to generating successful solutions. Contributors to this series also share ideas for advancing the multidisciplinary collaborations needed to solve the major global issues.

Kieran Setiya is a professor of philosophy within the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) who explores questions of ethics (including climate change ethics), epistemology, and the philosophy of mind. He is the author of two books: "Reasons without Rationalism" and "Knowing Right From Wrong." SHASS Communications asked him to share his thoughts on how philosophy can help people tackle the problem of climate change.

Q: How can an understanding of philosophy help people make better decisions about how to handle major global issues such as climate change?

A: Whether they acknowledge it or not, almost anyone engaged with global issues of human well-being, the distribution of resources, or the future of society is doing moral philosophy. The most technocratic assessment of costs and benefits makes assumptions about what counts as cost and benefit: about the value of human life and the demands of justice. As John Maynard Keynes wrote 80 years ago, those “who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence are usually the slave of some defunct economist” — or philosopher.

Making our ethics more explicit, being self-conscious about our principles and premises, improves our moral thinking. This is particularly true when the questions are ones of public policy, when they operate at scales that defy intuitive judgement, and when they threaten our complacent desire to maintain the status quo.

The problem of climate change is challenging in all these ways. It is unique, or unusual, in that it leads rapidly beyond the usual terrain of political theory to questions more abstract and existential. Why should we care about the survival of humanity? The answer makes a difference to our assessment of catastrophic risks. How should we think about decisions that affect the identity of future individuals? If we do not act on climate change, people born 50 or 100 years from now will lead impoverished lives. But they would have been no better off if we had acted otherwise: in that alternative history, they would not exist.

Along with problems of identity, there are problems of time itself: Economists often discount not only wealth but human welfare as they project into the future. Because it compounds year by year, the discount rate swamps other factors in the economic assessment of climate change. What forms of discounting are ethically defensible? Philosophers have been thinking about these questions for decades. Their ideas are relevant now.

Q: What moral questions do we need to address as a society if we are to succeed in working together to meet communal goals such as the emissions reduction targets set by the 2015 Paris Agreement?

A: We know that climate change will cause tremendous harm and that the extent of this harm depends collectively on us. Many would agree that climate change is a moral issue and that we are obligated to act. But there is little clarity on the basis of our obligations or on what exactly they are.

Climate change will disproportionately affect the developing world, hitting India and Africa especially hard. In narrowly economic terms, a recent study saw the likely cost of 2 degrees of warming as 5 percent of GDP in India, 4 percent in Africa, but only 0.5 percent in the United States and less in China. These facts bear on questions of distributive justice, even apart from the causes of climate change.

When we turn to history, we find issues of corrective justice or restitution. More than half of all emissions have been caused by the United States and Europe, as they reaped the benefits of industrialization. How far can developed nations be held accountable for past emissions? Do our obligations now depend on the extent of our contribution to the problem?

And then there is the risk of global climate catastrophe. This is what lies behind the 2 degree target embraced by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others. Beyond 2 degrees, there is a danger of feedback in the climate system that would increase average temperatures by 5 or 6 degrees, threatening human extinction.

Is the obligation to act on climate change a matter of distributive justice, restitution, or insurance against catastrophe? The answers are not exclusive. Which should be our focus?

These questions bridge theory and practice, moral principle and political strategy. We need to address them in interpreting the “common but differentiated responsibilities” of the Paris Agreement. We need to address them in finding ways to motivate action in the present whose impact will only be felt by future generations. And we need to address them when we ask how far to compromise ideals of justice in the name of necessity.

How complicit should we be with energy companies whose business model rests on catastrophic levels of fossil fuel consumption? Or with corporations that sponsor climate denial? These are questions for institutions like MIT. At the same time, we face the challenge, as individuals, of maintaining hope for the future or continuing to act without it.

Q: How do you think the courses you teach, such as 24.02 (Moral Problems and the Good Life), prepare MIT students to make valuable contributions to a better world — whether their field is engineering, science, or something else?

A: Teaching ethics is a risky business. If the end is to make people better, it is open to question whether moral philosophy is the most effective means. Some philosophers fear that it is counter-productive. As Annette Baier once complained, the standard introduction to ethics “acquaints the student with a variety of theories, and shows the difference in the guidance they give. We, in effect, give courses in comparative moral theory, and like courses in comparative religion, their usual effect on the student is loss of faith in any of the alternatives presented.”

One of my aims in 24.02 is to present moral philosophy as something more than a stalemate of conflicting views. Moral argument is not a zero-sum game: It generates insight and illumination. At least when they go well, courses like mine prepare students to make a positive difference in the world in part by convincing them that it is worth thinking about ethical questions, that they can make progress in finding answers, and that doing so changes lives.

In the 2016 Senior Survey, more than 20 percent of MIT students said that working for social and political change is not important to them at all. I don’t know what explains this statistic, but I make a point of exposing students to some of our most urgent moral challenges, including global climate change, and of confronting doubts about the efficacy of individual action.

At the same time, I want students to think about ethics beyond the limits of problem-solving, to explore not just the demands of morality but ideals of human flourishing. What does it take to live a good and meaningful life? The value of philosophy is partly instrumental, a tool for innovation, creativity, and civic engagement. But it calls us to reflect on what matters in itself, not as a means to an end or the answer to a need we would be better off without.

When we engineer prosperity and progress, when we struggle against injustice, what sort of lives are we fighting for? Lives in which philosophy has an enduring place. As Jonathan Wolff writes, with useful hyperbole: “Medicine helps us live longer; scientific advances save us time; but the arts and humanities make it worth living longer, with time on our hands.”

Interview prepared by MIT SHASS Communications
Editorial Team: Emily Hiestand, Kathryn O'Neill


The Future Now Show

China, the US and Europe
with James M. Dorsey

Independent geopolitical analyst

James M. Dorsey puts the current development of relations with China into context. China is becoming an economic, military and technological superpower. The relations with the United States and Europe will profoundly influence the 21st century.

Keywords: China / United States / Europe / Technology / Communication / Mobility / Common Interests / Military situation / Free Trade Agreements / Outlook

Shape the future now, where near-future impact counts and visions and strategies for preferred futures start.
Do we rise above global challenges? Or do we succumb to them? The Future Now Show explores how we can shape our future now - where near-future impact counts. We showcase strategies and solutions that create futures that work.
Every month we roam through current events, discoveries, and challenges - sparking discussion about the connection between today and the futures we're making - and what we need, from strategy to vision - to make the best ones.

You can find The Future Now Show also at

LinkedIn: The Future Now Show Group
YouTube: The Future Now Show Channel

Producer: Felix B Bopp


Article 02

Achieving gender equality in India: what works, and what doesn’t
By Smriti Sharma

By Smriti Sharma, Research fellow, United Nations University

Discrimination against women and girls is a pervasive and long-running phenomenon that characterises Indian society at every level.

India’s progress towards gender equality, measured by its position on rankings such as the Gender Development Index has been disappointing, despite fairly rapid rates of economic growth.

In the past decade, while Indian GDP has grown by around 6%, there has been a large decline in female labour force participation from 34% to 27%. The male-female wage gap has been stagnant at 50% (a recent survey finds a 27% gender pay gap in white-collar jobs).

Crimes against women show an upward trend, in particular brutal crimes such as rapes, dowry deaths, and honour killings. These trends are disturbing as a natural prediction would be that with growth comes education and prosperity, and a possible decline in adherence to traditional institutions and socially prescribed gender roles that hold women back.

A preference for sons

Cultural institutions in India, particularly those of patrilineality (inheritance through male descendants) and patrilocality (married couples living with or near the husband’s parents), play a central role in perpetuating gender inequality and ideas about gender-appropriate behaviour.

A culturally ingrained parental preference for sons - emanating from their importance as caregivers for parents in old age - is linked to poorer consequences for daughters.

The dowry system, involving a cash or in-kind payment from the bride’s family to the groom’s at the time of marriage, is another institution that disempowers women. The incidence of dowry payment, which is often a substantial part of a household’s income, has been steadily rising over time across all regions and socioeconomic classes.

This often results in dowry-related violence against women by their husbands and in-laws if the dowry is considered insufficient or as a way to demand more payments.

These practices create incentives for parents not to have girl children or to invest less in girls’ health and education. Such parental preferences are reflected in increasingly masculine sex ratios in India. In 2011, there were 919 girls under age six per 1000 boys, despite sex determination being outlawed in India.

This reinforces the inferior status of Indian women and puts them at risk of violence in their marital households. According to the National Family and Health Survey of 2005-06, 37% of married women have been victims of physical or sexual violence perpetrated by their spouse.

Affirmative action

There is clearly a need for policy initiatives to empower women as gender disparities in India persist even against the backdrop of economic growth.

Current literature provides pointers from policy changes that have worked so far. One unique policy experiment in village-level governance that mandated one-third representation for women in positions of local leadership has shown promising results.

Evaluations of this affirmative action policy have found that in villages led by women, the preferences of female residents are better represented, and women are more confident in reporting crimes that earlier they may have considered too stigmatising to bring to attention.

Female leaders also serve as role models and raise educational and career aspirations for adolescent girls and their parents.

Behavioural studies find that while in the short run there is backlash by men as traditional gender roles are being challenged, the negative stereotype eventually disappears. This underscores the importance of sustained affirmative action as a way to reduce gender bias.

Another policy change aimed at equalising land inheritance rights between sons and daughters has been met with a more mixed response. While on the one hand, it led to an increase in educational attainment and age at marriage for daughters, on the other hand, it increased spousal conflict leading to more domestic violence.

Improvements in labour market prospects also have the potential to empower women. An influential randomisation study found that job recruiter visits to villages to provide information to young women led to positive effects on their labour market participation and enrolment in professional training.

This also led to an increase in age at marriage and childbearing, a drop in desired number of children, and an increase in school enrolment of younger girls not exposed to the programme.

Recent initiatives on training and recruiting young women from rural areas for factory-based jobs in cities provide economic independence and social autonomy that they were unaccustomed to in their parental homes.

Getting to parity

For India to maintain its position as a global growth leader, more concerted efforts at local and national levels, and by the private sector are needed to bring women to parity with men.

While increasing representation of women in the public spheres is important and can potentially be attained through some form of affirmative action, an attitudinal shift is essential for women to be considered as equal within their homes and in broader society.

Educating Indian children from an early age about the importance of gender equality could be a meaningful start in that direction.

The Conversation



This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.


News about the Future

> Ultralightweight, Crush-Resistant Tensegrity metamaterials
> Horizon Europe is the EU’s research and innovation framework programme running from 2021-2027

Ultralightweight, Crush-Resistant Tensegrity metamaterials

Study shows how century-old design principle can be a pathway to overcoming failure

Catastrophic collapse of materials and structures is the inevitable consequence of a chain reaction of locally confined damage – from solid ceramics that snap after the development of a small crack to metal space trusses that give way after the warping of a single strut.

In a study published this week in Advanced Materials, engineers at the University of California, Irvine and the Georgia Institute of Technology describe the creation of a new class of mechanical metamaterials that delocalize deformations to prevent failure. They did so by turning to tensegrity, a century-old design principle in which isolated rigid bars are integrated into a flexible mesh of tethers to produce very lightweight, self-tensioning truss structures.

“Tensegrity structures have been studied for decades, particularly in the context of architectural design, and they have recently been found in a number of biological systems,” said senior co-author Lorenzo Valdevit, a UCI professor of materials science and engineering who directs the Architected Materials Group. “Proper periodic tensegrity lattices were theoretically conceptualized only a few years ago by our co-author Julian Rimoli at Georgia Tech, but through this project we have achieved the first physical implementation and performance demonstration of these metamaterials.”

Horizon Europe

The strategic planning process focuses in particular on Pillar II of Horizon Europe, "Global challenges and European industrial competitiveness" and also covers relevant activities in other pillars and the Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area part.

The result of this strategic planning is set out in a multiannual strategic plan, for preparing the content of the work programmes covering a maximum period of four years.

Horizon Europe will support European Partnerships in which the EU, national authorities and/or the private sector jointly commit to support the development and implementation of a programme of research and innovation activities.

The strategic plan contains

  • key strategic orientations for research and innovation support and their targeted impact
  • identification of European co-funded and co-programmed partnerships
  • identification of EU missions
  • areas of international cooperation
  • orientations on specific issues like social sciences and humanities, gender, and the role of key enabling technologies


Article 03

Nano Coated Salt Technology
By Just Have a Think

The energy storage sector is becoming a pretty crowded and competitive field as more and more companies come up with solutions that will be absolutely crucial to dealing with the intermittency of renewable technologies. Now there’s one more technology to add to the list that looks set for a bright future, not just as a supplier of grid balancing power but also because of its ability to feed direct heat energy into industrial processes and municipal heating systems.

Video transcripts available here.

SaltX Technology
is a Swedish renewable tech company that has set out to solve the problems of renewable energy supply, demand, and timing.

Thermochemical energy storage is like using a rechargeable fuel which in our case is a salt. Instead of burning it to produce heat, the heat comes from a recharging and discharging process that can be run over many times. ?

To charge the salt an endothermic process is needed. To put it very simply, the salt is dried using heat. The dry salt contains a lot of stored chemical energy. The salt can then be ‘discharged’ by mixing it with water release this chemical energy as heat.

The unique part with SaltX storage is that it’s possible to store the dried salt at room temperature when not in use.? The technology allows thermal energy to be stored chemically and can be released again hours, days or even months later by just adding water.?

The salt can be charged using renewable energy via an electric heater, solar or waste heat. The main requirement is that this charging heat needs to be 550°C (1022°F) or above. The discharge of the thermochemical storage releases heat up to 450°C (900°F), great for industrial processes and for power generation by turning a steam turbine.


Recommended Book

Nature Obscura: A City's Hidden Natural World
By Kelly Brenner

With wonder and a sense of humor, 'NATURE OBSCURA' author Kelly Brenner aims to help us rediscover our connection to the natural world that is just outside our front door - we just need to know where to look.

Through explorations of a rich and varied urban landscape, Brenner reveals the complex micro-habitats and surprising nature found in the middle of a city. In her hometown of Seattle, which has plowed down hills, cut through the land to connect fresh- and saltwater, and paved over much of the rest, she exposes a diverse range of strange and unknown creatures.

From shore to wetland, forest to neighborhood park, and graveyard to backyard, Brenner uncovers how our land alterations have impacted nature, for good and bad, through the wildlife and plants that live alongside us, often unseen. These stories meld together, in the same way our ecosystems, species, and human history are interconnected across the urban environment.


Article 04

Creative Sustainability
By Except Integrated Sustainability

Why creativity is a necessary and valuable asset for sustainable solutions

When we think of creativity, the first things that come to mind are usually the arts; painting, writing, dancing, making music, performing – but we can (and should) apply creativity as a concept much more broadly. When it comes to creating a more sustainable society, applying our creative minds may even be crucial.

Creativity is not limited to the humanities and the arts, but can be involved in anything. Before anything else, let’s take a step back and ask ourselves what creativity and being creative really means. Defining creativity has been much debated in scholarly research and depending on who you believe there may not be a definite meaning at all – but generally, we can understand creativity to mean using our imagination to make or think of something new.

There are many different ways to stimulate creativity: brainstorming, making vision boards, mind mapping, word association…

Usually, these exercises are used for object-related problem solving, meaning our creative efforts are directed to one ‘thing’ or problem. This approach may be more or less successful depending on your subject field, but in the case of sustainability the results are often disappointing. Though well-intentioned, when it comes to sustainable challenges object-related problem solving rarely improves the root of the problem. Most of the time, it shifts the negative impact on one area to another. For example, a product is made eco-friendly, but under horrid working conditions – or a company manages to save energy, but pollutes the environment in the process.

Except created Symbiosis in Development (SiD) as a way to guide their creative process and to avoid becoming so focused on improving one thing they forget about the rest. SiD works with systems thinking, which means that instead of only looking for solutions for a single problem, we examine the entire system. What happens system-wise that causes these problems? How do different processes within this system impact and interact with each other? What happens when we change things?

The different systems of SiD that make up the whole. Download the (free) SiD book at for more information.

SiD may work with systems, but that doesn’t mean it ignores the objects. It simply means that SiD systems are categorized in different levels. The first of these is, in fact, the object level, which includes physical assets like cars, trees, and people. Next is the network level where we can see how our objects function within and between economic, cultural and environmental relations. Lastly, the third level combines everything from the previous two, showing the system as a whole.

Knowing about lots of different things from different fields and then bringing them together is what creativity is really all about; we literally create something new by putting together different things. Knowledge and familiarity with a broad range of subjects will make being creative a lot easier, simply because there are more things to choose from and think of. Creativity flourishes in diversity. Moreover, you’re more likely to come up with something that hasn’t been thought of before, because you’re not limiting yourself and your creative process to trying to combine ideas from the same field or subject matter.

Except understands sustainability to mean a complex, dynamic system. To come up with creative solutions for a system where everything is connected means you need to take into account all the different factors that are part of that system.

SiD is unique in systems thinking because creativity is at its center; SiD considers the social, economical, ecological, and political factors in the system of any new challenge they approach. Creativity is, in fact, crucial: to make truly impactful and long-lasting sustainable changes we need to change our systems, not our objects. Because SiD is flexible and malleable to the requirements of a project, it fits exactly what our current complex societal challenges need – a way to look at everything from all kinds of different angles.

Everything in our world is connected, though some connections may be less or more obvious than others. Sometimes we’re so far removed from the production of the items we use that it’s difficult to find out what kind of impact the toothbrush you’re using or the car you’re driving had while it was made, or will have when you no longer use it. Usually, we’ve become so used to the systems we live, work and play in that we can’t imagine a different way to do things. Or the system can seem like a mountain of problems too high to climb.

That’s where our creativity comes in. What new things can we connect and create once we open our minds to the opportunities? The combination with SiD’s systematic approach means that our mountains will get clear starting points with climbing equipment combined with defined hiking trails and victory rest stops where we can pause and appreciate the view of where we’ve come so far on our journey to a more sustainable world.

The article was written by Kai Bijnen, Except Integrated Sustainability


Climate Change Success Story


An initiative launched by Quantis in 2018, geoFootprint was built collaboratively in partnership with more than 25 public, private and academic stakeholders.

It was developed with the idea that spatially-explicit footprints, calculated at global scale, would facilitate our capacity to measure, understand and monitor how different agricultural practices can accelerate the transition toward more sustainable food, fiber and material production systems.

With financial support from EIT Climate-KIC and leading agrifood companies, as well as advisory inputs from global organizations and academic experts, geoFootprint was developed by Quantis in partnership with arx iT and the Cool Farm Alliance.

geoFootprint - Accelerating Sustainable Agriculture

Agricultural supply chains are critical when it comes to tackling climate change, as this often accounts for large proportions of a producer’s greenhouse gas emissions. Many crop-based industries and major food producers have set themselves ambitious environmental targets, aiming to reduce their carbon footprint by improving the management of their supply chains.

The problem

There is a lack of environmental data at sufficient detail for large stakeholders to effectively understand and manage their carbon emissions. To accelerate sustainable crop supply chain management to the necessary levels, more robust, transparent and compatible environmental data is needed.

The goal of the geoFootprint project, co-financed by the EIT Climate-KIC, is to bridge this data gap, removing inconsistencies and incompatibilities between data sources and datasets, and providing a more in-depth view of the current environmental situation in each supply chain. Through the development of a commodity monitoring tool designed specifically with climate footprint in mind, geoFootprint’s service will determine and define the impact of major commodities across the planet. This means producers and suppliers will be able to monitor, track, and improve progress toward regional and global sustainability goals.

The solution

To ensure the relevance of the tool, geoFootprint has been developed in a collaborative initiative involving more than 25 corporate, public, global, academic and non-profit organisations: including consulting group Quantis in partnership with the Cool Farm Alliance and ArxIT, it will eventually take the form of a user-friendly online world map to measure the environmental footprint of agricultural practices with an incredible level of detail for major crops.

Companies and other relevant stakeholders will have access to key environmental information to help them make sustainable decisions and support better crop management practices. The world map will be an online, public and collaborative tool, with different levels of license fees depending on the depth of information required.

geoFootprint will enhance and merge available data to derive generic emission factors and environmental metrics at unprecedented levels of specificity and accuracy. Its main innovation is to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) location technology, allowing a 10km by 10km level of precision. Based on this, changes in soil quality or management practices can be modelled instantaneously.

It is aimed at all stakeholders that interact with some part of the supply chain, and will be especially useful to those managing the most complex ones. It will allow decision-makers in food, textiles, cosmetics, biofuel and other key industries to make science-based choices on their supplies.

The impact

geoFootprint will empower companies in crop-based industries with much more granular supply chain data so they can make better environmental management decisions and accelerate their transition toward sustainable agriculture. The tool will also enhance our understanding of how farming practices and local characteristics affect the environment, and how environmental changes are affecting the supply of critically-important crops. Governments and companies will have a new capacity to model and visualise farming practices, and determine where the strong and weak points are in the supply chain regarding environmental sustainability. Investments will be more targeted, increasing their potential and letting investors directly engage with suppliers and authorities, drawing on facts.

The tool has been scheduled to launch in 2020. After this, several pilot projects will enable the geoFootprint team fine-tune the tool and assess how itbest supports science-based decisions. It is too early to say what the environmental impacts will be but strong interest from leading companies and organizations in crop-based industries confirms that geoFootprint meets an important data need in this field.

It will increase the value of information gathered by companies on environmental factors associated with supply chain management.The data gathered through the project will enhance climate risk information, which will lead to more secure supply chains in a future set to the backdrop of evolving climate change.

Much of the data will be publicly available, so everyone from smallholder farmers to international conglomerates can see how the sector is progressing towards decarbonisation, and find out which sustainable practices are working best and where. Spatially sensitive data will dramatically advance our knowledge of farming practices and their potential in mitigating both the causes and effects of climate change.

EIT Climate-KIC’s role

geoFootprint is co-financed by the EIT Climate-KIC and could not have been launched without its support. Success so far is reflected in the repeated interest and support from the largest food corporations in the world, as well as the support and advice given by other key stakeholders such as the WBCSD, the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative platform, FAO and UNEP.

The EIT Climate-KIC has been providing almost 1 million Euro for the project. It’s being used to scaling up a prototype that Quantis had internally developed into a global, robust and engaging platform.

The geoFootprint project is led by environmental consulting group Quantis and formed from a consortium of over 25 organisations from the corporate, academic, public and private spheres. This collaboration would not have been possible without the help of the EIT Climate-KIC.




Futurist Portrait

Bruno Marion
The Futurist Monk

Bruno is often called ”the Futurist Monk.“ He has been travelling around the world for 30 years, meeting CEOs, religious leaders, all kinds of gurus in India and in the Silicon Valley, people in jail, super rich people, homeless, artists, special forces, war journalists, high level politicians, activists, successful entrepreneurs, visionary scientists, cultural icons and everyday heroes.

Bruno is meditating every day and reading over 100 books a year about the latest innovations in science, technology, philosophy and spirituality. He has been experimenting cutting-edge technologies, investigating new types of governances, exploring new smart cities and new disruptive ways of living.

Bruno Marion is a futurist, an expert on global trends and innovation.

Bruno has discovered that the world is getting better and worse and faster than ever. He shows us how and why we are going through an amazing “reset” in our personal lives, in our families, in our institutions and our organizations. A world megashift of unprecedented scale and speed!

Fractal Archipelagos – Bruno Marion Futurist



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