The future is born in the imagination of individuals

About

New Silk Roads offers a range of futures thinking programs focused on collectively imagining preferred futures and producing bold, innovative future scenarios.

These programs—including Futures Labs, masterclasses, workshops, and online speaker series—equip participants with the skills, tools, and community to imagine novel futures. Are you excited about developing scenarios for your company, your organization, or your community? Get in touch.

2022-09-22

What If Real Estate Accelerates a Green Transition?

In September, we convened a 3-day Futures Lab in Egypt, which asked: “What If Real Estate Accelerates a Green Transition? Exploring Avenues for a Regenerative Built Environment.”

Attended by a diverse group of business leaders, investors, architects, policymakers, urban planners and researchers, Lab participants explored multiple possible futures to imagine how the Egyptian real sector sector can positively shape the future of #ClimateAdaptation. Read more about the Lab and its recommendations here.

This Lab was hosted in collaboration with the AUC Innovation Hub, and in partnership with Hivos and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

what-if-real-estate-accelerates-a-green-transition.pdf

Watch the Futures Talks series

The need to imagine alternative futures of Climate Change is more pressing than ever. Ahead of COP27, watch our most recent Futures Talks:

  1. Designing for the Future: Utopia, Dystopia, and Demystifying Complexity, featuring Sherif El Diwany and Sherif Goubran [Watch here]

  2. “More-Than-Human” Mobility: The Future of Sustainable Cities in Egypt, featuring Momen El-Husseiny and Noran Abdou [Watch here]

  3. The Stories Behind Uncertain Futures: Using Scenario Planning to Imagine the Future of Energy, featuring Salma Nagy and Moataz Darwish [Watch here]

This series was hosted in partnership with the AUC Innovation Hub and under the Hivos GreenWorks Alliance.

2021-10-09

What If the Future Were Rural?

How can we imagine hopeful futures in the face of climate change? And how can we imagine localized futures amidst a planetary crisis? In Tunisia, New Silk Roads convened a Futures Lab to explore preferred future scenarios around the question: “What If the Future Were Rural? Imagining Just Food Systems in Tunisia.”

Over several months, Lab participants explored a range of possible futures, resulting in three illustrated, future scenarios 30 years from today. We invite you to explore these scenarios below: a testament to the commitment, courage, and the hope of the Lab participants to build a brighter future, for themselves and for future generations.

1. The Child and Mother Earth: In the distant future, a grandfather and his grandchildren relearn how to cultivate food and honor the planet while navigating a world radically transformed by climate change.

2. If This Plate Could Talk: Successive waves of pandemics have changed the quotidian lives of everyday Tunisians. In the downtown neighborhood, Bab El Khadhra, Tunisians visit a gastronomy museum where they activate memories of traditional Tunisian dishes after losing their sense of taste and smell.

3. Gaia Rising: Extreme climate fluctuations have degraded living conditions in cities and the countryside alike. But in northern Tunisia, the “rurban” community of El Alia has put the planet first to achieve self-sufficiency by nourishing the people and the land alike.

Read the full scenarios (in French) by clicking here: scenario_booklet_futureslab.pdf

Video

2022-03-24

Watch the Futures Talk x Pierre-Christophe Gam

How can we activate our dreams to envision bold futures?

Watch the video here.

In conversation with Pierre-Christophe Gam, this Futures Talk examines the intersection(s) between dreams, future thinking, and storytelling. Through the lens of Gam's work on creating new narratives inspired by myths stemming from Africa, the African diaspora, and pre-colonial heritage, this Futures Talk will explore how to activate these narratives through interactive physical and virtual spaces, and the fusion between futures thinking and storytelling practices.

Pierre-Christophe Gam trained at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Decoratifs in Paris and at the Central St. Martins School in London. In pre-colonial West Africa, griots were the guardians of the memory of the community, which they passed on through initiation songs and stories. Gam sees his practice as a continuation of this great tradition.

The talk is moderated by Arthur Steiner, an art historian who is passionate about the role of arts and culture and digital tech in tackling 21st century challenges. He has led various innovative programmes for Hivos to develop the cultural sector and social impact. He is co-founder of Digital Earth, a fellowship for artists to imagine radically different digital futures and he is editor of the forthcoming publication Vertical Atlas.

Video

2022-02-22

Watch the Futures Talk x Chiara Di Leone

Watch the video here.

Today, scenario planning is the most popular long-term strategic analysis method across the world. Born as a military technique aiming to rationalize the anxieties and endless stalemates of the Cold Wars, it was an instant hit in the planning and forecasting fields. In her Futures Talk, ““Re-thinking the Unthinkable: Scenario Planning, the Local, and Alternative Climate Futures,” Chiara Di Leone critically examines scenario planning by positioning it in the larger tradition of future imagining infrastructures, using a wide set of case studies.

Chiara Di Leone is a writer and researcher on economic narratives, anticipatory governance, and climate interventions, among other things. Her essays appear in several publications including TANK, KALEIDOSCOPE, Strelka Mag, and RealReview. Chiara regularly advises institutions through design research - clients include BBC R&D and Serpentine Galleries.

The talk is moderated by Arthur Steiner, an art historian who is passionate about the role of arts and culture and digital tech in tackling 21st century challenges. He has led various innovative programmes for Hivos to develop the cultural sector and social impact. He is co-founder of Digital Earth, a fellowship for artists to imagine radically different digital futures and he is editor of the forthcoming publication Vertical Atlas.

Course brief

2020-12-18

What If Waste Did Not Exist?

Imagining the Tunis Medina in 2050?

New Silk Roads offered a one-day, futures thinking intensive course where participants boldly imagined preferred futures for waste management in the historic medina of Tunis. Through gamification, hands-on activities, and arts-based facilitation, the participants developed specific futures thinking skills, such as signal identification, backcasting, and foresight. Participants then used these skills to collectively imagine their preferred future scenarios for waste management in the Tunis Medina. This course was delivered to a diverse group of experienced professionals from the private sector, academia, civil society, local governments, and the arts community.

This course has been organised in partnership with Blue Fish and Dar Ben Gacem and made possible by Hivos and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Course brief

2021-04-01

Future of Farming in Egypt

How can we imagine bold futures for organic farming in Egypt?

Designed for a diverse group of experienced professionals, this one-day, intensive course was initiated to imagine radically different futures for farming in Egypt.

This intensive course utilized two interlinked approaches, gamification and scenario building to explore principles of futures thinking and work with participants to develop key futures thinking skills, such as signal identification, backcasting, strategic foresight, and scenario-building. The course also included scenario building sessions designed and facilitated by a team of creatives. These sessions deployed theatre and dramatic storytelling, choreography and embodied movement, and visual arts-based collective mapping, respectively, to unlock imaginative processes and collectively explore a range of preferred, possible futures for food production in Egypt.

This course has been organised in partnership with Rdna and KMT House.