Published January 10, 2017

The Next Era

How do we guarantee well-being for everyone, if the only thing we know for sure is that everything will change?

What is it about?

Many seem to agree that we are on the verge of a major societal transformation, yet surprisingly few ask: where do we want to go? What kinds of jobs and income do we want? What is the future for democracy and self-organisation? What role does growth play?

In the coming decades, we are likely to create unprecedented amounts of wealth. However, we risk displacing large groups of people and putting our planet’s capacity to sustain life in jeopardy.

Many Western societies have enjoyed considerable prosperity in recent decades, but now lack a vision for where we will be heading next. What is well-being like in a society in which work is changing, politics is blurring and growth might be slowing?

In summer 2016 Sitra and Demos Helsinki launched The Next Era, an initiative to create a vision aimed at reforming our current societal model. The core findings of the work shape our vision for the next era of well-being, which will be presented at Sitra’s 50th anniversary on 11 November, 2017.

With The Next Era, we have created a common understanding of the change taking place in our societies. We have tried to imagine a just future in which values such as the broad participation of people, a high level of trust and fairness are paramount. Of course, all this should take place within the limits of Earth’s planetary boundaries.

How should such a societal vision be formulated? The variety of people’s experiences is vast, and different people see the changes in the world in very different ways. Therefore, The Next Era initiates an expanding discussion on a future in which people build society together and in which everyone has a fair chance to participate.

What are we doing?

The Next Era has been bringing together people, projects and organisations via a series of global meetings throughout 2017. We have sought scalable social innovations that can speed up social and human progress, in order to overcome the transformation peacefully.

We opened the discussion by publishing three themed publications on the changing structures of society: work and income; democracy and participation; and growth and progress. In addition, a fourth theme – mankind’s activities within the planetary boundaries – will be discussed in a new publication at the end of the year.

In Finland throughout 2017, we have organised a series of debates on the future, to which we have invited Finns from a wide variety of fields to create a dialogue aimed at building a shared interpretation of the future of society.

You can follow our work at nextera.global and take part in the discussion at #NextEra.