Sustainable Futures

Sustainable Futures at SEI-US


Investigating the potential for a sustainable future lies at the heart of all of SEI’s work  and so all of SEI’s work could fit in the category of “Sustainable Futures”. However, some of SEI’s projects are especially focused on longer-term change: large-scale and long-term studies; explorations of the prospects for a sustainability transition; and tools and techniques for thinking about the future:

Large-scale and long-term studies

Development that is truly sustainable must take into account the larger-scale implications of development pathways, both in space and in time. To address this key aspect of the sustainability challenge, SEI, with its partners, supports decision-making by framing current policy questions in a large-scale and long-term context.

Exploring the prospects for a sustainability transition

The sustainability challenge is to achieve broadly-shared prosperity indefinitely into the future while maintaining and enhancing the ecological functions that support people and other life. Meeting the challenge will require a transition from our current technological infrastructure and habits. In keeping with SEI’s mission to bridge science and policy, SEI investigates technologically, environmentally, and socially feasible alternatives for maintaining a high quality of life in an environmentally sustainable world, as well as possible pathways from where we are today to a sustainable future.

Tools and techniques for thinking about the future

Top-down solutions are unlikely to achieve sustainability. Local environmental and political conditions, beliefs, preferences, and histories, will all influence the success of sustainability initiatives. For this reason, SEI believes that widely-disseminated tools and techniques, which can be used by many different groups and communities for their own context-specific sustainability studies, will play an essential role in achieving a sustainability transition. As SEI develops its own “futures toolkit”, it shares it with others: see Resources more information on our tools.


Eric Kemp-Benedict