15 YEARS OF DESIGN TO IMPROVE LIFE… WHAT NOW?

Although it may not always feel like it, the world HAS vastly improved since the beginning of the millennium. Thanks to a shared global effort: less people live in poverty, more children are in school, gender equality is improving, child and maternal mortality is declining, cures for many threatening diseases have been found, environmental issues are well-recognised, and even the frightening hole in the ozone layer is shrinking. On top of this, new technology has secured an exponential growth in the distribution of knowledge to empower people all over the world.

Looking back at when we started in 2001 to where we are today gives us tremendous hope.

We now see sustainability coming to the centre of focus and a steady increase in collective action to address global challenges. We’re proud to look back on our small contribution to this global movement, and have been in constant awe of the efforts of others.

Within the field of design we have been first-movers on numerous occasions, paving the way for sustainable thinking to become a mainstay in the design world. In all three of our program areas, Inspire, Educate and Engage, we have repeatedly challenged the status quo and pushed for a change in mindset. Most importantly, we have shown how these approaches can significantly contribute to solving global challenges.

But, while it is encouraging to see the world slowly rally behind us – we simply must move faster.

Too many people still suffer from the consequences of poverty, political unrest and extreme weather phenomena caused by climate change. The wave of migration erupting in recent years alone has created a whole new array of complex issues in need of quick and far-reaching solutions.

When these challenges are discussed, one visibly recurring theme is the dire need for faster implementation. The world acknowledges the importance of innovative education, climate change solutions and impact investing. Yet the implementation of concrete solutions is still too slow.

Far too often decisions agreed on the upper, international level take too much time to have an impact at the bottom of the pyramid.

A radical change in consumer attitudes, and urgency must be instilled throughout our political systems and among citizens to change structures and tear down hurdles for implementation.

Over the past year, we as a team have determined how we can contribute to future development over the next 10 years. We plan to significantly scale-up our existing strategies to help emerging entrepreneurs gain access to resources and capital. We simply must get more solutions onto the market to ensure they reach the corners of the globe where they are desperately needed.

At the same time, we will work on changing outdated structures, not only in the investment sector but also within education, to ensure innovation will be truly valued and prioritised as an essential part of societal development.

While we are proud to be part of a global ecosystem, we are also dedicated to maintaining our position at the tip of the wave. We have turned to our proven strategy development method by, once again, talking to hundreds of thinkers and do-ers from all around the world to help us clarify what challenges, industries and opportunities require our attention and support.

With this crucial data – that will soon be published – and our impact assessment of the past 15 years, we will strengthen our strategies and explore new opportunities. We will continue to actively change mindsets, we will push to break down barriers, and we will broaden our efforts to ensure the longevity and growth of ‘Design to Improve Life’.

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