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A journey into London’s future shows a better world


The Futurescape initiative aims to help urban dwellers prepare for a more sustainable future, showing there are many paths to achieving the desired outcomes.

‘We wanted flying cars. Instead we got 140 characters’ said controversial technology entrepreneur Peter Thiel more than a decade ago. Clearly technologies will play an outsized role in shaping humanity’s future, including that of our urban habitat. But predicting which specific technologies will race ahead is no mean feat, although huge effort has gone into dissecting future trends and anticipating new needs and wants.

Futurescape is a Chatham House initiative for our second century, generating innovative thinking and exploring how a more sustainable future could come about in the next one hundred years around London’s Piccadilly Circus, an area which has been the Institute’s neighbourhood for almost a century. Its aim is to sidestep the wormhole of apocalyptic futurism.

The pandemic has catapulted ideas which lived largely in the imagination into near realities in many cities. It is becoming clear a return to business-as-usual is not only unlikely but also undesirable for some. Rebuilding the new normal and finding a way to more sustainable futures requires reconfiguring some fundamentals at both a policy and individual level.

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