Imagining a World Where All Are Inspired to Live Sustainably

Imagining a World Where All Are Inspired to Live Sustainably

Futerra

13. Climate Action 16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions 17. Partnerships for the Goals Flourish Prize Finalist - For Business as an Agent of World Benefit - Weatherhead School of Management

Overview

Futerra is a change agency that offers sustainability strategy and communication services to brands driving positive change around the globe. Through their Theory of Change approach, Futerra makes sustainability storytelling trendy, relevant, and engaging. The model helps brands internally define a vision for impact and develop an integrated strategy to connect with their customers. Futerra’s aim is to make sustainability the new normal.

Authors

Eliza Edge

Eliza Edge

Lindsey Strange

Lindsey Strange

Sarah Hutcherson

Sarah Hutcherson

School

Bard MBA in Sustainability

Bard MBA in Sustainability

Professor

Kristina Kohl

Kristina Kohl

Innovation

Futerra differs from other agencies because of their constant pursuit to create climate optimists. They appeal to people’s heads and hearts through a multidisciplinary approach referred to as “Logic and Magic.” Through building logical strategies in tandem with compelling and creative stories that spark joy, they positively reframe a consumer’s worldview to make sustainability commonplace.

The pursuit of optimism is vital. According to the 2018 Yale Climate Outlook, 65% of Americans surveyed believe citizens should do more to address global warming, while 68% of Americans think corporations should do more to address global warming. Citizens need to feel empowered and excited to act to turn these "shoulds" into reality, something Futerra’s projects strive to do.

Specifically, Futerra is inspiring optimism and creating a better world with the Good Life Goals. Inspired by the core drive to combat climate defeatism and inspire climate optimism, co-founder Solitaire Townsend was driven to make the SDGs more approachable to the everyday person. Futerra partnered with the UN 10 YFP on Sustainable Lifestyles and Education including SEI, and IGES to develop the Good Life Goals. The Good Life Goals help all people, from Futerra’s clients to an individual in rural Kentucky, to recognize how they can take action in achieving the SDGs, which scales the SDGs' impact.

Imagining a World Where All Are Inspired to Live Sustainably

Inspiration

Futerra was founded by two classmates studying for their master's degrees in sustainability leadership who were frustrated with how their inner circle saw sustainability as a sacrifice. Solitaire (Soli) Townsend and Ed Gillespie spent countless nights hashing out how to interweave creativity and sustainability to create a better world. Four years later, they turned their late-night brainstorming into a successful business—Futerra—to bring optimism and joy to the world’s biggest challenges.

In 2019, the original intent to make sustainable development so desirable it becomes normal persists in the fabric of Futerra. All of the work that Futerra produces is rooted in their belief that a better world can and should exist. They make sure their work around sustainable development is never preachy and always approachable, because to manifest a better world, all voices need to be involved. As Soli explains, “People power is as important as powerful people.”

Overall impact

Futerra is propelling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the mainstream through a holistic approach infusing coherent sustainability strategy with creative and powerful design. Through the “Logic and Magic” approach, they interweave problem-solving with storytelling. They have worked with many Fortune 500 companies over the past 18 years on visions such as literacy for every woman, using scale as a force for good, making the circular economy less alternative, and developing initiatives to solve climate change. For example, one of their many successes includes working with the Ocean Conservancy to lead the world’s largest trash pickup day.

While their work addresses different SDGs based on their clients’ needs, Futerra is specifically addressing three SDGs—Climate Action, Partnerships, and Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions—through their Good Life Goals. The Good Life Goals improve education around the SDGs to increase awareness for humans to take steps to mitigate climate change. Similarly, the Good Life Goals apply to both developed and developing countries, which allows for a global partnership around the Good Life Goals to exist. Finally, the Good Life Goals are being used internally at organizations to not only teach employees about how to take action but also to create a more participatory workplace.

Business benefit

Futerra is hired to help ensure environmental and social goals are integrated and communicated strategically. Often, clients approach Futerra looking to incorporate the SDGs into their strategic plans. While most companies can impact any of the SDGs, Futerra helps to identify the one or two that best align with the core business. Futerra ladders up the most material SDGs for brands to make meaningful, business-driven progress on them.

Futerra’s strategy services are unique to each company they serve. They empower their clients—large corporations, NGOs, and nonprofits—to tell more compelling sustainability narratives and integrate good intentions into relevant and successful business practices. Their clients, such as Interface, Lancome, and the VF Corp, turn to Futerra to leverage their core business and entice customers to make the easy (and cool) choice to live within our planetary boundaries. Futerra supplies sustainability expertise and a creative approach to develop the strategy and integrate sustainability into the core of their business.

A Certified B-Corp and woman-led, Futerra lives their mission for their clients to adopt sustainable business practices and incorporate more diversity. Futerra ranks the highest in providing stellar benefits to its workers and involvement in their local communities. The B-Corp process continually allows Futerra to evaluate how they can better serve their clients and make sustainability more mainstream.

Social and environmental benefit

The Good Life Goals benefit society and the environment through empowering all people to take action in achieving the SDGs.

Take SDG 11, for example, otherwise known as the Sustainable Cities and Communities SDG. To inspire action, scale the SDG's impact, and make this goal more approachable, Futerra labeled this goal “Love Where You Live” and provided five actions, some of which include:

  • Learn about and take part in local decisions
  • Get to know your neighbors and welcome them
  • Protect local wildlife and natural areas.

Breaking down each SDG in this manner allows individuals to participate in the goals in a palpable manner.

Futerra aims to utilize the Good Life Goals to help their clients to more meaningfully engage with their employees and empower them to take actions to achieve SDGs about which they are passionate, which supports a culture of increased well-being. Futerra also incorporates the Good Life Goals for a client’s external-facing campaigns to give customers concrete actions when using a company’s products or services.

By helping big brands create sustainable change through the Good Life Goals and beyond, Futerra’s successes have a massive impact. However, one of the most exceptional contributions they make to the field of sustainability is to shift the cultural attitude of climate defeatism to climate action through their campaigns. Climate defeatists and climate pessimists—those who believe it is too late—are on the rise and more of a threat to sustainable action than climate deniers. Futerra’s team believes that “it’s not too late; what’s missing is the will to do something about it.”

Interview

Freya Williams, North America Director

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Futerra

Futerra

New York, New York, US

Business Website: https://www.wearefuterra.com/

Year Founded: 2001

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

Futerra is a change agency that offers sustainability strategy services to brands driving positive change around the globe. Through their Theory of Change approach, Futerra makes sustainability storytelling trendy, relevant, and engaging. The model helps brands internally define a vision for impact and develop an integrated strategy to connect with their customers. Futerra’s aim is to make sustainability the new normal.