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When people are asked how do they picture our planet in 50 years, grey images of destruction and desolation seem to be the best representation of what comes to their mind. Elena Bennett has a different idea in mind. She thinks that, in the future, we can have a more just, more prosperous, and more biologically diverse planet than the one we are living in today. Together with other scientists, Elena has identified “seeds of good Anthropocene”, that is, the actions that are visible today and that are starting to change the course of history in a positive way. They exist. And if we want to build a better planet, we need to start looking for positive stories about the future, even if they are hard to find. It’s like driving a car: if you have a certain image in your mind, you will steer your car towards that image. If it’s a bad image, you are likely to get a bad result. At the end, it’s our choice. Elena Bennett is Associate Professor at the McGill School of Environment of the McGill University. She earned her Master of Science in Land Resources from the University of Wisconsin in 1999, and her PhD in Limnology and Marine Sciences in 2002. As a postdoc, she helped coordinate the Scenarios Working Group for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

By dwelling on the possibility of a dystopian environmental future, we run the risk of making the prediction self-fulfilling. We need more inspirational visions – but which are realistic and believable. Elena Bennett, Professor in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences at McGill, is part of a project that is collecting examples of “bright spots” from around the world in a bid to change how people think about the future.

At an ‘Anthropocene Visioning Workshop’ hosted by the CST in November 2016, a diverse group of key thinkers in southern Africa − including artists, social entrepreneurs, researchers, and policy-makers, was convened to engage in a visioning process to scope a range of plausible “good” futures based on perspectives from a variety of regional actors.

Prof. Garry Peterson, from the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, explains how the Anthropocene is currently prosperous, but inequitable and unsustainable, and that to create a better Anthropocene we need to start imaging alternative ‘good’ Anthropocences. This video is from the Stockholm Resilience Centre’s 2014 online course “Planetary boundaries and human opportunities.”

Transformations Conference | Video of Laura Pereira speaking about the Seeds of Good Anthropocenes project at the Transformations conference in Stockholm, October 2015

Albert Norström, Per Olsson and others from Future Earth´s Transformations Knowledge-Action Network discuss mobilising research around social-ecological transformations and exploring pathways toward a ‘good’ Anthropocene. This webinar originally aired on 19 October 2016.

A video with Tanja Hichert detailing the methodological Manoa Mash-up scenarios approach that was used in the southern Africa visioning workshop.

A video of participants at the southern Africa visioning workshop reflecting on the process.