Resilience Frontiers: Day 2 — Desired Futures

Resilience Frontiers: Day 2 — Desired Futures

Sounds like a population health challenge!

The day began with a restatement of the challenge involved in building resilience in the face of climate change; it will be a very familiar problem to those of you working in Public Health.

The climate impacts community have moved their thinking forward over the past decade or more, despite many setbacks in terms of being unable to fully get nations to deliver on their commitments to limit CO2 production. Progress has been rather linear, when exponential progress is probably required. Doesn’t sound like our obesity epidemic, or smoking before that, or mental health, or diabetes, CVD, dementia… or any other population health challenge, does it?

The climate impacts community do not capitalize fully on the range of human talent available, because they fail to create synergies across the people and organizations who largely continue to work in silos. This perhaps is best recognized in UK population health circles as the central reason for the creation of Integrated Care Systems! So maybe we are on the right track; I wonder if the Resilience Frontiers event isn’t a template that population health could use to generate new ideas about how to move forward by creating synergies between different groups. I’ll let you know at the end of the week!

Finally, our reintroduction to the challenge this week was concluded with a statement that I know will resonate with many colleagues in public health and our local councils: “…it is the interface with nature that is the key to a transformative approach to climate change resilience…”

The key word going forward is ‘transformative’ (and I know you’ve all heard ‘transformative’ being used in the context of the ICS…); we have to break away from incremental progress. We need to do things differently. The other important aspect is that they are talking about ‘place’, but NATURE as a place and specifically adaptation to human created climate change is only going to be possible if we go back to restoring nature and its proper function.

The transformative solution is ecological restoration – you heard it hear first.

I can tell you that COP14 (Convention of the Parties) for the UNCBD (conservation of biological diversity) meetings that I attended during the Sharm El-Sheihk meeting in November 2018 — concluded the same thing.

How’s that for transformative synergy? Two Rio Conventions saying the same thing — within a 4 month period.

How do we get everyone working together?

Do we need a Resilience Frontier event with people from all 3 Rio Conventions? UNFCCC – lead the way!

How do we Build Resilient Communities?

We had an interesting presentation from the Red Cross/Crescent Society and their key message was that building resilience is more that just doing good development work. It is

  • Investing in strengthening capacity of organization to anticipate problems
  • A process, not an end point
  • Not just about financing projects, but rolling these into and ‘mainstreaming’ these processes into ‘business as usual’ systems and society more widely [UNCBD COP14 – we concluded the same thing!]
  • Investing must come from an understanding of risks – especially for the most vulnerable in society [note that in our group today ‘inequality’ was a term that followed us through every activity
  • Must take a systems approach to problem solving
  • Ecosystem restoration fundamental AND community engagement essential for adaption and resilience building – sound like HUMI (www.humi.site) anyone?
  • Civil society organizations can help deliver resilience at scale. However, to maximize investment value – we need strong connection between communities, government institutions and market actors. This could have been lifted right from our STP, the Population Health Management approach and indeed the HUMI 2020 challenge. We are all in the same boat — we are losing our respective battles, we have major and growing funding constraints — so we need to push out from pilot studies and a linear approach — we are all looking for that ‘transformative moonshot’!

Developing a Moonshot

This futuring technique is named after the American Apollo effort and JFK’s famous 1962 space race speech setting the nation on course to “…send a man to the moon and bring him safely back”, by the end of that decade. It is a different approach to envisioning the future – it is a ‘future-back’ strategy technique, i.e. start with the future and work your way back to the present. Presto a strategy in reverse. This exercise was led by a team from Futur/io. The idea is that in a few steps any group can begin working together to imagine something for the first time – ‘moonshot thinking’.

Because our group was working to reconnect people with nature in order to build resilience, we each developed out own moonshot efforts.

  • Based on the work we did in Day 1 – the Futur/io team word-smithed 3 statements for us to select from that outlined the problem. Our challenge was “How we as global citizens might address the disconnection from nature that imperils our health in a world where we need to build community resilience in order to adapt to living in a degraded environment in the year 2030?
  • We began by each of us sketching out what we throught a desirable future would look like for us.
  • Then we shared these thoughts with the group.
  • We mapped out together what we meant by ‘health’, ‘degradation’ and ‘disconnection from nature’, see image below

  • We did some ‘silent brainstorming’ (which is pretty much what it sounds like) by initially putting down three ideas each and then passing the sheet to another participant who added their ideas. No editing. We did this several times – a couple minutes each go.

  • Finally, we each produced a ‘moonshot’ idea graphically, see image below, based on our silent brainstorming. So that’s the Moonshot method. It was interesting. Here is my effort for this session.

We had a number of other exercises, both physical, meditative and intellectual over the day and I can honestly say, my brain hurts. We closed the day with ‘re-framing the mind to rethink the future’ exercise that seemed to elude most people in my group, especially me, but it was 5 pm at that point! We then went on to create a physical model of which completely shut down any still functioning brain cells. So I won’t describe them here, but if the organizers post the video they showed us to kick-off the re-framing exercise, I will edit this blog and sign post it here.

This futures blog

This blog is about how we create ‘healthy places’ and what our possible ‘futures’ could be given current trends and momentum within society, the economic and political systems, and the environment. I use the plural ‘futures’ intentionally, because our future is not pre-determined (I hope), we can and should work towards the future we want. This blog aims to generate discussion (maybe even some debate) around ‘Healthy places futures’ in the hope that if we all put our minds to it, a collective vision may emerge, which would inform any strategy we might put in place to get us to our preferred future. We’ll be leaning on heavily on futuring tools found on our Shaping Tomorrow hosted website: phd.shapingtomorrow.com.

The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed (William Gibson 1993).

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