Exploring Sustainable Futures Game

Since 2018, Cranfield have been using a Scenario Exploration board game to help Masters students think about strategic decision making in the context of four different pathways towards a sustainable future by 2050. Players representing established businesses interact with players representing entrepreneurs, policy makers, civil society organizations and ‘the public voice’ as they all react to changes in economy, technology and society along these pathways. The ‘winners’ are judged not only by the amount of resources they have accumulated, but also by whether they have achieved their purpose, and the teams reflect on the nature of the world they have collectively created through their decisions.

The game concept was originally devised by the EU-Commission’s Joint Research Council (JCR), and this version of the game was developed in collaboration with Forum for the Future and the Academy of Business in Society (ABIS) as part of the EU-InnovatE project. Cranfield have since taken the lead in using and refining the game which has so far been played with over 200 students, with over 20 faculty and PhD students getting involved as ‘Game Hosts’ facilitating play at each table.

We are refining and improving the game with each use and have started to collect data on the effects on participants. Initial findings show that playing the game deepens students’ understanding of 1) the radically different, plausible futures that could unfold, 2) the role different actors play in societal change, 3) the interrelationship between business, society and the wider living world, 4) what might have to change in the world for sustainable development to happen and 5) the scope for business to both regenerate and degrade society.



The event will be live streamed so if you are unable to join in person you will be able to catch all the action online!

COP26 will be publicly live streaming all sessions on the dedicated COP26 YouTube channel, so please make sure to watch even if you cannot join us in person! No ticket is required to watch any of the Green Zone live streams or recorded content. Streams can be accessed via links from the agenda on the COP26 website, by navigating to the COP26 YouTube channel or here on our Sustainable Game page.

There is open access to the visual assets required to print copies of the original game tools developed with EU-InnovatE that can be found here, for any other organisation wishing to use the innovative learning tool. Please note, we at Cranfield in collaboration with partners at Warwick University have since updated and further developed the tools we are taking to COP26 and use to teach on our sustainability courses.

More information

A pivotal year for our climate
In November, the UK hosts COP26 in Glasgow, bringing world leaders together to tackle climate change.

The UK is aiming to secure a global plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as from cars and factories, to zero by 2050. It could be the moment we turn climate change around.

Celebrating everyday people making a difference
To build momentum for this pivotal event, we’re asking you to help us find #OneStepGreener Climate Leaders – the community groups, individuals, businesses and others who’ve found meaningful ways to take positive environmental action because they show us that we can all act now for a greener future.

The UK’s greener than you know
We’re tackling climate change better than you might think. A lot of that is down to people behaving differently in day-to-day life, going #OneStepGreener for the planet.

In the run-up to COP26 – the UN Climate Change Conference – we want to shine a light on the people and stories that are making a difference. The UK’s Climate Leaders.

What is COP26?

COP26 is the 2021 United Nations annual climate change conference. COP stands for Conference of the Parties. Parties are the signatories of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - a treaty agreed in 1994 which has 197 Parties (196 countries and the EU). The 2021 conference, hosted by the UK, together with our partners Italy, in Glasgow, will be the 26th meeting of the Parties, which is why it's called COP26.

United Nations climate change conferences are among the largest international meetings in the world. The negotiations between governments are complex and involve officials from every country in the world as well as representatives from civil society and the global news media.

What happens at a COP?

Activity at a COP takes place in two different zones - the Blue Zone and the Green Zone.

The Blue Zone is for people registered with the UN body tasked with coordinating the global response to the threat of climate change – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In the Blue Zone you might be part of a national delegation, work for the United Nations and related organisations & agencies or be a member of the media or not-for-profit observer organisation.

In the Blue Zone, delegates from countries meet for both formal negotiations and informal consultations. They may also take part in meetings with other delegations to clarify their position and interests with the aim of reaching agreement or overcoming a negotiating deadlock. The UNFCCC will also host a range of events, including technical briefings, to support the negotiations process.

The Green Zone is for the general public. There will be a wide range of events, including workshops, art exhibitions and installations, as well as presentations, demonstrations of technology and musical performances for everyone to attend.

What is net zero?

Net zero means finding a balance between the greenhouse gases that an individual or organisation puts into the atmosphere, and those that are ‘taken out’.

In other words, it’s making sure that for all the gases emitted, you are removing the same amount from the atmosphere, making yourself carbon ‘neutral’.

Achieving net zero is necessary if we are to tackle climate change and protect people, the planet and our natural world.

The UK has set a target of being net zero by 2050.

What does net zero mean for me?

The first step to becoming net zero is to avoid emitting greenhouse gases in the first place. This could mean using less energy at school, walking or cycling and reducing your food waste.

The second step is to find ways to neutralise or ‘offset’ any remaining emissions that can’t be avoided, as it’s impossible to reduce emissions completely. Offsetting can be done in a variety of ways, including planting trees (which absorb excess greenhouse gases from the atmosphere).