Insights June 7th, 2021

Each week Nikolas Badminton curates a weekly list of insights and learnings for progressive executives, world leaders and foresight practitioners – CEO Futures Briefing: Spanish foresight and a robotic heartbeat.

This week we look at Spain’s new Foresight Office, tracing water across the United States, the world in 2050, biological robots, The Pentagon’s upcoming UFO report, and Wall Street’s green bonds.

Also featured is an insightful interview on the Exponential Minds Podcast with Ian Burbidge who talks about the RSA’s ‘Stitch in Time’ and shifting mindsets towards futures thinking

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If you have questions about these things we’re sharing, or a challenge with seeing the futures for you and your organization? Reach out to speak with Nikolas today to arrange a time to talk.

Three articles to read

Spain’s new Foresight Office Completes its First Big Assignment: a Strategy for Remaking the Country by 2050

In January 2020, the Government of Spain established a strategic foresight office at the center of government. The Oficina Nacional de Prospectiva y Estrategia (National Office of Foresight and Strategy) was set up within the cabinet of the Presidencia del Gobierno (Prime Minister’s Office).

The rationale for creating the office was to counter the short-term thinking prevalent in government, and to ensure the future interests of Spain. The office is charged with analyzing empirical evidence to identify possible demographic, economic, geopolitical, environmental, social, educational and other challenges and opportunities that Spain will confront in the medium and long term, and help the country prepare for them.

Since its creation, the office has been primarily focused on the preparation of long-term national strategy, España 2050, which was publicly announced on 20 May 2021 by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Read more at Medium

This map lets you fly along the path of a drop of water from any place in the U.S.

If fertilizer runs off a farm in southwestern Montana, it could end up traveling more than 3,400 miles through streams and rivers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Missouri, and then down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, where it might end up contributing to a giant algae-filled dead zone. Plastic trash that lands in a stream in West Virginia might make a similarly long journey—around 3,000 miles—to the same place.

A new map called River Runner lets you trace the long path of water throughout the U.S.: Click on any spot or enter an address, and it will show where the water is likely to flow. Data analyst Sam Learner started working on the project after thinking about how water travels from the Continental Divide. “I though that journey would be really interesting,” he says. “If we start at the top of a mountain on the Continental Divide, just watching this split—one journey a few hundred miles to the Pacific, and another to the Gulf of Mexico. As I started digging into the data, I realized that the scope of it could be much bigger.”

Read more at Fast Company

The world in 2050

A lot can happen in 30 years. Life today looks very different from how it was in 1990. Back then, cheap short-haul flights were rare, and the smart phone was still nearly two decades away; there were only four TV channels, and Google, Amazon and Facebook didn’t exist.

Technology has revolutionised how we live today. But, the planet is under extreme pressure. Humanity is having a devastating impact on the natural world, fuelling dangerous levels of climate change, more turbulent weather and destroying biodiversity. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted us all in unprecedented ways. We are at a crossroads and our choices today will define our future.

So, in 30 years time, what kind of world might we be living in?

Read more at Imperial TechForesight + Imperial College

Three videos to watch

Biological Robots May Soon Build You a Better Heart

Computer scientists and biologists have teamed up to create a creature heretofore unseen on Earth: a living robot. Made from the cells of frogs and designed by artificial intelligence, they’re called xenobots, and they may soon revolutionize everything from how we fight pollution to organ transplants. 

How The $1 Trillion Market For ‘Green’ Bonds Is Changing Wall Street

So-called green bonds have become more popular in recent years, and this fast-growing segment of the $128.3 trillion global bond market could grow even more.

When an issuer sells a green bond, they’re making a nonbinding commitment to earmark the sale’s proceeds for environmentally friendly projects. That could include renewable energy projects, constructing energy efficient buildings or making investments in clean water or transportation.

Green bonds fall under the wider umbrella of sustainable bonds, which include fixed-income instruments whose proceeds are set aside for social or sustainability projects.

Big household names such as Apple and PepsiCo are diving into this space. A handful of massive banks and governments around the world are also issuing sustainable bonds, including China, Russia and the European Union.

This may be contributing to the space’s rapid growth. A report from Moody’s said new sustainable bond issuance may top $650 billion in 2021. That would represent a 32% jump from 2020.

Watch the video above to learn more about how green bonds work, how issuers can be held accountable and how green bonds can move capital toward climate-friendly projects and goals.

The Pentagon’s upcoming UFO report, explained

From Star Wars, to the X Files and most recently, Khloe Kardashian’s quest for alien life in Calabasas, UFOs and extraterrestrial life is a popular topic in entertainment in pop culture. It’s a very different story for politicians. For decades, politicians have steered clear of this topic out of fear of being labeled tinfoil hat wearing kooks. 

Politico’s senior national correspondent, Bryan Bender has covered national security for years, which to his surprise now includes a UFO beat. He was one of the first journalists to uncover the existence of the Pentagon’s AATIP office. In that time he has met UFO enthusiasts, researchers and even a few politicians to better report on UAPs. 

In this video follow along as Bryan acts as a guide to this strange and confusing world, and then go and read Bryan’s full report on how Washington is beginning to embrace this fringe world. You can read the full article here.

A conversation that counts

Each week we dig into the archives of all of the interviews Nikolas has undertaken with the insightful and entertaining Exponential Minds Podcast. This week we feature Ian Burbidge from The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce who talks about their incredible report on foresight called ‘A stitch in Time?’ that helps shift mindsets towards futures thinking.

You can download that report from The RSA – here.

The last word…

“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.”

Oscar Wilde

About Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas Badminton is the Chief Futurist at and a world-renowned futurist speakerconsultant, researcher, and media producer. He helps trillion-dollar companies, progressive governments and the media shift their mindset from “what is” to “WHAT IF…” The result is empowered employees, new innovative products and incredible growth that leads to more revenues and a more resilient future.

Nikolas advised Robert Downey Jr.’s team for the ‘Age of A.I.’ documentary series, starred in ‘SMART DRUGS – a Futurist’s journey into biohacking’, and features on CTV, Global News, Sirius XM regularly. His mind-expanding research and opinion can be found on BBC, VICE, The Atlantic, Fast Company, Techcrunch, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Forbes, Sputnik and Venturebeat. 

Nikolas provides the opening chapter – ‘Start with Dystopia’ in a new book – ‘The Future Starts Now: Expert Insights into the Future of Business, Technology and Society’ for Bloomsbury. He is currently researching and writing a new book that equips executives and world leaders with insights and foresight tools to imagine disruption, strengthen strategic planning, and see unforeseen risks.

Nikolas is a Fellow of The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce – The RSA. The organization has been at the forefront of significant social impact for over 260 years with notable past fellows including Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, Stephen Hawking, Nelson Mandela, and Tim Berners-Lee. 

Cities Society Space Work

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas Badminton is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA (FRSA), a media personality, and has worked with over 400 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

Contact Nikolas