As a teenager in the 1980s, growing up in Norway’s second-largest city, Bergen, I often sat reading the newspaper before heading off to school. What made the greatest impression on me, and stayed with me for years, was the news about acid rain damaging forests in Europe, and radiation from Chernobyl being found in reindeer lichen in northern Norway. These were problems that seemed local to those experiencing them, yet these problems could only be solved by every nation working together globally.
This year, 2017, marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Brundtland Commission’s presentation of its work, led by Norway’s former prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland. The General Assembly of the United Nations appointed the commission to create a vision for a sustainable future. The definition of “sustainability” found in the report Our Common Future is still used today by academics, the business community as well as the civil society:
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
A great amount of progress occurred very quickly in some areas, while it’s taken longer for action to be implemented in others. A global agreement on reducing the impacts of climate change wasn’t reached until 2015. Politicians, however, are now putting green growth on their national agendas. Companies are innovating to produce without polluting and are using fewer resources. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) continue to create awareness of climate and environmental problems that must be solved. And more and more citizens are making conscious choices regarding how to live sustainably.
Still, I often wonder: what will the world look like in another thirty years if global warming and environmental degradation aren’t reduced as much as we hope? And how will we deal with those problems? After all, no matter which models scientists are using today, it’s impossible to accurately forecast what will happen.
So I gathered a group of authors and asked them to write their vision of what the world will look like in 2047. We want our short stories to make you reflect, or provoke you, or bring feelings to the surface while you read them. And hopefully all of them will make you realize that your actions matter and will encourage you to take part in caring for the world and the people in it.
I hope we will succeed in having an effect on you.
-Tanja Rohini Bisgaard, December 2017