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Recommendations for responding to the Fridays for Future movement

December 11, 2019

The level of public concern about climate change has risen significantly in recent years. The Fridays for Future movement enjoys broad political and public support, but this has so far not translated into tangible changes. The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, Germany, has now published a resource - the Futuring Tool - and a more comprehensive Policy Brief aimed at decision-makers who want to make climate protection a guiding principle of their work.

"The world is waking up to the need to increase ambition on climate change. This tool can help us address both climate action and engagement with young people by looking at our decision-making processes and showing how they can be reformed," explains author Elizabeth Dirth. Her work integrates theoretical and practical insights: A social and political scientist by training, Dirth has spent the last seven years working on sustainability-related issues in research institutes and non-governmental organisations. She is also the co-founder of the Scottish youth organisation 2050 Climate Group.

There are two versions of the futuring tool: one geared to policymakers and one aimed at NGOs and businesses. "Giving a young person a microphone will not solve the climate crisis. We can amplify the voices of young people over and over again, but at some point we must actually start doing things differently," emphasises Dirth. The tool describes processes that can help to ensure more just future-making and guides readers step-by-step through the task of selecting measures that are appropriate to their particular contexts.

The Policy Brief delves deeper into the concept that is at the heart of both publications: just future-making. Here Dirth proposes three core principles that decision-makers should heed:

Integration: Policymakers should consider context-appropriate methods to integrate the future into decision-making. This could take place through the introduction of new elements into existing processes, such as additional budget scrutiny, as well as reforming the remits of already existing bodies or processes.

Participation: Policymakers should utilise participatory processes to inform and guide their decisions. This could be in the form of youth-specialised participatory processes, or broader, society-wide pro-cesses such as citizens' assemblies.

Imagination: Policymakers should use creative and imaginative exercises to engage with the future in order to build a new collective cultural imagination. A new collective cultural imagination is necessary to bring us out of the fossil-fuel age. Exercises like visioning and back-casting, as well as other experimental and creative practices, have an important role to play here.

The publications are aimed at governments, policymakers and other local, national, and international organisations that want to respond meaningfully to the demands of the Fridays for Future movement and ensure climate justice for future generations. The author is happy to provide further support and advice on request. Please contact Ms Dirth at

* Dirth, E. (2019): The Futuring Tool: A Toolkit for Responding to the Demands of the Fridays for Future Movement (for Governments). - IASS Brochure.

* Dirth, E. (2019): The Futuring Tool: A Toolkit for Responding to the Demands of the Fridays for Future Movement. 2nd Edition (for NGOs and businesses). - IASS Brochure.

* Dirth, E. (2019): Processes for Just Future-Making: Recommendations for Responding to the Demands of the Fridays for Future Movement. - IASS Policy Brief, 2019, 9.

Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V. (IASS)

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