Creativity, Adaptability and Sustainability for the 21st Century

Sustaineo 2030 Video Summary by Novel Futures' Darren Swanson at the United Nations Sustainable Development Transition Forum in South Korea.

Why, you ask, am I  writing a fiction novel ? 

Sustainable development -  'meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs' is at base, a simple and fair principle, and hard to argue with.

Development as Freedom - ‘a process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy…political freedoms, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees and protective security…these distinct types of rights and opportunities help to advance the general capability of a person (Amartya Sen)’. This is the core of the human experience.

These concepts are well known in certain circles within government, academics and development institutions, and in the case of sustainable development, also within some corporations. 

All of these circles are striving to implement the concepts in their own way. But why is it that so few people outside of these circles have ever heard of these terms or are aware of the important implications from economic, social or environmental perspectives? I believe that communicating and discussing the notions of ‘sustainable development’ and ‘development as freedom’ with the broader public in a compelling way is just as important as current technical efforts within government and business to implement them. And it is my observation that communication of these important concepts has been left largely to chance, and to the detriment of their achievement. 

Click here to access the Sustaineo 2030 novella.

This publication and its content are not associated with, endorsed by, affiliated with, or sponsored by the Sustaineo initiative. Sustaineo is a German-based initiative committed to promote sustainability as well as business orientated approaches, know-how and international development cooperation in particular to support smallholder farmers of internationally traded agricultural produce in developing countries. Sustaineo was initiated by the three entrepreneurs and benefactors Dr Christian Jacobs, Michael R. Neumann and Dr Michael Otto. Sustaineo’s engagement is effected through the Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung, Hamburg, the Aid by Trade Foundation, Hamburg, and the Zurich-based Jacobs Foundation. For more information please refer to

Launch video message by Bertelsmann Stiftung Chairman and CEO Aart de Geus at the United Nations Sustainable Development Transition Forum in Incheon, South Korea.

Published by Sage in 2009. While with the International Institute for Sustainable Development, I led an expert writing team in a five-year research effort on Creating Adaptive Policies. This guidebook provides 7 pragmatic tools for navigating the complexity, surprises and uncertainty of 21st century public policy issues. 

As lead author of the chapter on 'Integrated and Forward-looking Analysis', I provide an in-depth look at the rapid scenario planning approach, one of the fundamental tools for adaptive policy-making in the 21st century.

Click here to access the book and learn more about the 7 tools for Creating Adaptive Policies.

Need a more hands on tool for assessing if your policies are adaptive or to create a new plan, policy or program that is adaptive? 

This novella  was a collaborative effort among Bertelsmann Stiftung, Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future, International Institute for Sustainable Development and Novel Futures.

In this fictional short story, Sustaineo is the newest country on the global landscape. It was created in 2015 and by the year 2030 it had realized all of its sustainable development goals. Grace Nustromi – executive director of the Sustaineo Multistakeholder Council along with Mr. Zy, the country’s charismatic Ombudsperson for Future Generations, take five government ministers from the present day on a brief time-travelling tour to the year 2030 and one of the world’s most innovative and successful countries. 

Sustaineo 2030 was written to convey a compelling picture of the future in which a fictional new country, Sustaineo, has successfully mainstreamed sustainable development principles into national and sub-national planning and has achieved its post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals (SDGs). 

Creativity ​21

Novellas and Scenarios​

Scenario Planning

'Towers of Hiva', fiction novel in development.

As Novel Futures' flagship project, I've been hard at work writing a fiction novel about the perils of perfect storms and the imperative of freedom and sustainability. 

'Towers of Hiva', is a story about two lost civilizations, one lost in the present, the other to the past. Their fates come crashing together in a tragic and symbolic moment, reminding us all of the perils of perfect storms and lessons not learned, and the imperative of peace, freedom and sustainability. 

Based on true events, 'Towers of Hiva' is meant to shock and inspire.

Stay tuned to the Novel Futures website for progress on this story project.

Social Fiction​