Greece 2121: Α Look Into the Future

Steve Vranakis muses on the challenges of the next century, and how Greece must lead the way in a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly future.


I’ve never thought of myself as much of a futurist; I’m more of a realist and, on a good day, maybe even an idealist. However, forecasting what our future might look like 100 years from now by predicting the logical extension of where technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, quantum computing, virtual reality and the Internet of Things are at today should almost be predictable in itself for someone with my background.

I’d rather tell it like it is, right now.

 

The year 2121 isn’t a century away; it’s already here, and we’re writing what the world will look like in a century at this very moment. There’s no need for predicting.

Sure, technology will play a crucial role in almost everything we do but, if you really want to catch a glimpse of our not so distant future, take a good look at everything that’s happening today across society, culture and, especially, the environment.

Speaking of today, it’s the day we celebrate our bicentennial, 200 years of independence achieved through a series of revolts and courageous uprisings that eventually lead to the liberation of Greece.

But there’s another battle currently being waged that doesn’t require war and can be won peacefully, and it’s only really just begun.

The climate crisis. The fight of our lives. To save the planet.

How epic would it be for a country like Greece, on the day it celebrates its liberation, to start a peaceful revolution on behalf of the environment, to declare an end to all the destruction being levied on our planet, and to pledge to be its protector?

To not only put the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) at the heart of everything we do but to be held to account as a country to standards for ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance), too?

 

The struggle to save the environment is existential, and something we should all be fighting for – full stop.

As a country, we’ve made great progress across renewable energy. Greece ranks among some of the leading countries in the world, something we should be proud of and keep building on. Add to that the electrification of our islands and other strategic shifts, and we’re a more than credible actor to start a global dialogue on all things environmental.

As everyday citizens, we need to commit to changing our behaviors by cutting down on our resource consumption, on our CO2 emissions, and on our waste production – as if our lives depended on it.

This is where innovation comes in. Where technology and creativity play a critical role.

One of the things I’ve been pushing for is for Greece’s rapidly growing startup ecosystem to focus on sustainability and the environment – for Greece to “own” the sustainable startups space, to show how we can create commercially viable and, dare I say, profitable businesses that aren’t at the expense of the planet. This is key.

We have some of the smartest and most talented scientists, engineers, designers and programmers in the world, with many more returning every day to our great country. These are our modern-day innovators and inventors.

 

We also have the climate and the location that makes us ideal for piloting programs that could go on to scale globally; here, we could tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges with world-changing ideas.

Imagine Greece rapidly prototyping for the planet, solving some of the world’s most important problems, such as removing plastics from the supply chain, moving us away from our reliance on fossil fuels and looking at how we grow more environmentally friendly food. There would be a focus on sustainable tourism, cleaning up our oceans and protecting our rich biodiversity. This is truly fitting for Greece.

To celebrate 200 years of freedom, Greece pledges to defend the planet.

How incredible a headline would that be? In this very newspaper, a message for the world from the birthplace of democracy, a statement of intent, a promise for the future from a country famous for its past.

 

200 years ago, our bravest gave their lives so that we can be free. If you want to see what things will look like in 2121, long after today’s futurists are gone, look at what we can do today.

Let’s lead the green tech charge. Let’s make our heroic ancestors proud of their sacrifices, and make 2121, the 300th anniversary of our independence, something future generations can truly look forward to celebrating.

Steve Vranakis is a creative activist.



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