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What is shaping how you think about the planet’s future?

Friday 19 May: ‘Forecast’ 2023 symposium, City Hall, London

In May 2023, international audiences joined us for ‘Forecast 2023’: an international hybrid symposium which explores new forms of storytelling responding to our planet’s future. It took place at City Hall on 19th May – in-person and live-streamed – and then online, with new commissions and webinars across May.

Listen to this fascinating series of talks on the Forecast podcast, with a new episode released every week. Available wherever you get your podcasts, or on the players below.


World-leading scientists, writers, artists and cultural commentators included keynotes by writer Ben Okri and mythical author and artist of ‘Storyland’ Amy Jeffs, artists Julie Freeman, Samson Kambalu, Melanie Manchot, Raqs Media Collective and Gavin Turk, UCL scientists Prof. Mark Maslin, Prof. Priti Parikh, and Caroline Edwards and journalist Aaron Bastani reflecting in these uncertain times on future-focused storytelling to navigate global challenges.

With the support of Chairs, broadcaster and presenter Bidisha Mamata, filmmaker David Malone, John Newbigin OBE and writer Dr Cleo Roberts-Komireddi

Young people aged 18-25 from Newham joined us to explore the big themes of the day, in satellite sessions led by some of London’s innovative climate thinkers: Repowering London, Conservationist Dimuthu Meehitiya and London-based visual artist Camille Aboudaram. They explored ideas around energy supply, biodiversity and climate activism, producing posters and propelling their thinking out into the wider ‘Forecast’ audience at a number of collaborative moments on the day.

‘Forecast 2023’ was commissioned by the Royal Docks Team and UCL (University College London) and is supported by the Mayor of London. Forecast is part of Sea Change, a season of four artist commissions on sustainability at the Royal Docks, commissioned and produced by the Royal Docks Team in collaboration with UCL and curated by Invisible Dust.

From myths and fairy tales to sci-fi dystopias, stories have preoccupied humans since the dawn of time. They help us navigate adversity and create an imaginative space for future action. We are living through an unprecedented moment of political, social and ecological upheaval and stories can help us cope with difficulty and provide hope. Storytellers connect us to new perspectives, enabling us to learn and make sense of our changing world. At this uncertain time, we need stories that will help us navigate future challenges. Are the stories we are telling about our planet’s future helping or hindering us? Who are the new storytellers we need to be listening to, and who is excluded? At this uncertain moment it is vital to tell stories that resist the urge for easy solutions to the huge challenges facing us. The world is complex and our stories need to be too. So much of what we read is presented as the definitive truth, in fact our world and its future is full of multiple interrelated factors and nuance.

The in-person event was followed by a series of online panel discussions including a discussion about Infrastructure and Energy with the Open Data Institute & artist Julie Freeman, and a panel on stories about land with Mosaic Rooms and Mexico-based MACIA Estudio and Estudio Abierto. Kenya-based Wangechi Ngugi and Daniel Muchina from Art & Science Films Afrika (ASFA) spoke with their collaborator Rebecca Clube from UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources and the Climate Compatible Growth (CCG) programme. 


Forecast has two new artist commissions exploring stories about the future of energy.

Art & Science Films Afrika’ new film Smoke Jumpers commissioned for Forecast brings together ancestral knowledge of conserving the natural world with current research around charcoal burning and highlights the complex and contradictory issues of climate change faced in Kenya today. ‘Smoke Jumpers’ is directed by Daniel Muchina and produced by Wangechi Ngugi, Art & Science Films Afrika (ASFA) and has been created in collaboration with Rebecca Clube, Research Fellow, University College London, Institute for Sustainable Resources around charcoal use and production in Kenya.

Artist Julie Freeman has been commissioned by Data as Culture at the ODI (@open_data_institute) with the support of Invisible Dust to work with ODI researchers on the Power and Diplomacy project to create ‘Allusive Protocols’ a new kinetic data-driven work of art. ‘Allusive Protocols’ responds to the contradictions and relationships inherent to the Power and Diplomacy project. It considers how the power behind all modern infrastructure resides in functioning networked connections, where continually growing complexity moves beyond human comprehension. The project is inspired by the fragility of networked connectivity and how it is both vulnerable and open to influence.


Programme Collaborators

We are delighted to be working alongside some wonderful people and organisations from around the world as Forecast evolves over the coming months and years. Our collaborators include:

  • University College London (UCL)
  • The Royal Docks Team
  • Art & Science Films Afrika (ASFA) Nairobi Kenya
  • MACIA Estudio and Estudio Abierto Mexico City Mexico
  • Greater London Authority, London
  • Open Data Institute, London
  • UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources and the Climate Compatible Growth (CCG) programme

50 thoughts about the planet’s future

When we first launched Forecast programme in 2021, we asked our central question to 50 people across the world, asking for answers in no more than 50 words:

What is shaping how you think about the planet’s future?

Contributors include Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Carlo Rovelli, Lily Cole, Hyphen Labs, Kasia Molga, Usman Haque and Judy Ling Wong.

You can browse read their responses here.

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