5 film directors capture the inspiring optimism of people working on urgent climate change solutions
- A new six-part docuseries features global businesses pioneering industry innovation on the front lines of climate change.
- Future Forward, by The Climate Pledge, covers a range of themes including: transportation, farming, flight, buildings, water, and forests.
- We asked the film directors to share why storytelling centred on climate change solutions is meaningful, powerful, and necessary.
Now more than ever, climate change is getting screen time: at film festivals, at the cinema, on television, in video and imagery streaming everywhere. What sets the new Future Forward documentary series apart is its focus on the optimism of climate solutions, contagiously inspiring stories above the fray of the mostly pessimistic outlook of news headlines.
The six-part docuseries, presented by The Climate Pledge – a commitment by companies to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 – features global businesses pioneering industry innovation on the front lines of climate change. The short films highlight some of the more than 400 Climate Pledge signatories across multiple industries (transportation, flight, construction, agriculture, and water) who are trailblazing paths to a cleaner future through decarbonization.
Each character-driven storyline serves as an inspiring example of real, groundbreaking work happening now, demonstrating to other companies that a net-zero carbon journey is both possible and crucial, and inspiring businesses from all sectors and regions to make their own commitments to accelerate climate action.
The films profile visionaries fighting for their dream of a better world, the complex hurdles to igniting corporate change on a global scale, and a contagious hope, and inspiration, for the future.
Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.
To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The World Economic Forum’s Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.
This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.
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Directed by five critically acclaimed – Emmy award winning and Oscar nominated – directors, and complete with stunning footage and powerful stories of determination and resilience, these short films leave audiences with a positive message: companies can, and are, changing the way they do business to create a healthy planet for generations to come.
We asked the Future Forward film directors to share why storytelling centred on climate change solutions is meaningful, powerful, and necessary.
‘Shift to an optimistic outlook’
Cynthia Hill, Director, The Future of Transportation
Folks are striving to make things better, instead of just talking about how bad it is.
I think we have to break through the doom-and-gloom bubble, because we’re all paralyzed by it. We all think there is nothing we can do, that climate change is inevitable and that’s what I think we were tackling with this film – showing that there are solutions and showing how folks are out there striving to make things better, instead of just talking about how bad it is.
It’s going into these large corporations and seeing the resources that were being put into thinking about this. The folks that were on the ground and who were figuring out how to solve the problem of getting hooked up to the grid, and how the grid is not servicing what we need to go forward. How they’re working with municipalities to bring us to a place where it benefits the rest of us. So what they’re doing on the ground to get this fleet electrified is also going to benefit the rest of us, the individuals who are interested in getting electric vehicles, powered with green energy. I didn’t even know how big of a problem it was, so that’s a big part of what was revelatory to me: seeing how far we have to go but also seeing that we’re actually on the path to get there.
‘A return to ancient wisdom’
Laura Checkoway, Director, The Future of Farming
Mother nature guides us and shows us what she wants you to know, and when we don’t listen she starts to demand it
I really appreciated that the team behind the series was interested in making character-driven stories about such an urgent topic. I find that using a really personal approach leads to the most powerful documentary filmmaking. Because touching people on an emotional level is how we learn, and just what winds up resonating most.
What I found especially powerful was that while we were learning about these [farming practices], they were often being called new, regenerative practices, but it’s actually really a return to a lot of ancient wisdom that’s been lost through industrialization and colonization. Mother Nature guides us and shows us what she wants you to know, and when we don’t listen she starts to demand it. Our film is about farming so it’s very much about soil and the soil just wants to have its nutrients and grow crops in its natural way – again, instead of thinking of new practices, it’s a rediscovering of a lot of the ancient wisdom that has been erased.
‘Innovating for change’
Ondi Timoner, Director, The Future of Flight
It’s not about convincing people not to use power, it’s about giving them clean power
What drew me to this series was that it was about solutions, that it was about relationships. People that are meeting each other from different companies, or different backgrounds, and how together they’re making change. And it’s funny, it doesn’t matter how big the problem is. It always comes down to people who care enough to really think “you know what, I’m going to do something about this.” It’s the attitude we all need to have because I don’t think we’re going to convince developing countries to not develop.
It’s a race against time. It’s about technology getting us out of this. And that’s why these films are really helpful in that regard. Because it’s us innovating our way out of this. It’s not about convincing people not to use power, it’s about giving them clean power.
For filmmakers who want to tackle this subject: it’s the human stories that really have driven these pieces. And the relationships and the passion of the characters are infectious. I would advise that that would be the way to go: to act locally, and think globally. Find stories around you. There are people everywhere growing things differently, thinking differently, outside the box. And that’s always going to be carrying the narrative – the subject, the human.
‘Storytelling through characters’
Samia Khan-Bambrah, Director, The Future of Buildings and The Future of Water
It’s this balance between finding people who are inspirational but also relatable
Before I came to filmmaking I had a career in social justice and development work. So I was always thinking about what it is that moves people. Not necessarily moves them into going out and immediately changing all of their behaviour, but finding the subtle ways that a film can stay with you. And you can have that running the background: any of the issues that are brought up or any of the things that maybe you might be able to do. If they permeate the background, then they can come to fruition at some point. And I think that the best way to do that is through the amazing characters that are around us all the time. It’s this balance between finding people who are inspirational but also relatable.
To be able to see the diversity of people who are drawing from everything that they know – whether that’s their personal life, their ancestral wisdom practices, the research and the science, or the academic work that they’ve drawn upon – was such a delight.
A better future
David Darg, Director, The Future of Forests
The future of forests may be even better than the forests might have been originally
It was really impactful, just personally, to see that something is being done because mainly what we hear are negative stories, but all of these films prove there is a lot happening. And that’s very exciting to see. As a series, I think these films collectively show a really positive movement towards a collective impact that we are having. In the Amazon things are slowly but surely starting to improve.
I think the thing that was most exciting for me is that in these areas – that are being reforested through these agroforestry initiatives which include planting the original types of trees that were there, plus food trees – they’re starting to see greater carbon sequestration than there normally would have been. So, there’s this chance that the future of forests may be even better than the forests might have been originally. I mean, they’ve got a long way to go before we get there, but we’re seeing some really positive results, which is good news.
The film was a very positive thing to be a part of. Let’s do a series two please. I think there are more stories to be told.
All Future Forward films are available to stream for free worldwide on TheClimatePledge.com/future, Amazon Prime, and JetBlue flights.