Research & Innovation

Collective Intelligence

Collective intelligence refers to the shared knowledge that emerges from collaboration among a diversity of individuals, and often includes co-developing new ideas or evaluating existing ideas as a group. The term “collective” describes a group of individuals who are not required to have the same attitudes or viewpoints. Different members can reveal different perspectives and approaches, leading to better explanations or solutions to a given problem. “Intelligence” refers to the ability to learn, to understand, and to adapt to an environment by using one’s own knowledge, enabling people to deal with changing and difficult situations. 

In our work, we use the collective intelligence approach to rapidly synthesize information, knowledge, and perspectives from a wide range of stakeholders and cross-section of expertise to help inform decision-making.

Cover for peer-reviewed article on Moderate support for the use of digital tracking to support climate-mitigation strategies published by One Earth

Cite as: Garard, J., Wood, S. L. R., Sabet-Kassouf, N., Ventimiglia, A., Matthews, H. D., Ubalijoro, É., Chaudhari, K., Ivanova, M., & Luers, A. L. (2022). Moderate support for the use of digital tracking to support climate-mitigation strategies. One Earth5(9), 1030–1041.

Cover for peer-reviewed article on Collective foresight and intelligence for sustainability published by Global Sustainability

Cite as: Wood, S., Luers, A., Garard, J., Gambhir, A., Chaudhari, K., Ivanova, M., & Cronin, C. (2021). Collective foresight and intelligence for sustainability. Global Sustainability, 4, E3. doi

Cover for the Foresight Report "Where is the World Headed Post-COVID-19?" Background image: crystal ball reflecting a forest. Text: "Expected trends in the coming three years."

Download Report PDF: Where is the World Headed Post-Covid-19?

Download PDF: Supplementary Materials for analysis of survey “COVID-19: Where do we go from here?”

Cite as: Sustainability in the Digital Age, Future Earth Canada, and Imperial College London Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment. (2020). Where is the world headed post-COVID-19? Expected trends in the coming three years.

Rapid Foresight Surveys

In April 2020, we launched a Rapid Foresight Survey ‘COVID-19: Where do we go from here?’ The survey reached out to members in the Sustainability Community as well as to the global General Population to take the pulse of these communities and tap into a broad diversity of perspectives from around the world to help inform and shape recovery strategies as we begin to rebuild. Survey questions explored how society and the economy are responding to the COVID-19 crisis, opportunities for transformative change towards a more resilient, sustainable, and equitable world, and potential ways to leverage the digital sector while also managing potential threats to privacy, equity, and democratic rule (phase 1). To assess changes in perceptions over time, two additional follow-up surveys were circulated to the general population in July (phase 2) and October 2020 (phase 3).

Key Insights Phases 2-3

Graphic with the title: "Digital Surveillance." A computer icon with mini globe and a wifi signal on the screen sit underneath. Three arrows extend from the computer. One arrow points to the word "Emergency" with a speech bubble icon with an exclamation point. One arrow points to the word "Climate" with a storm cloud icon. And one arrow points to the word "Carbon" with a footprint icon. Underneath that row is a world map with different-sized circles placed on different continents showing "Level of Support" for digital surveillance as a tool to tackle climate change. Breakdown of support available in article text.
  • The climate crisis could cause expanded use of digital surveillance, as did COVID-19.
  • Digital emissions tracking can be useful for climate mitigation but raises concerns.
  • We assess global perspectives on digital surveillance for collective crisis response.
  • 50% support implementing personal carbon budgets to tackle climate change.

Key Insights Phase 1

  • In the next three years, most people expect that societal changes following the COVID-19 pandemic will result from four classes of drivers: shifts in policy, norms, power dynamics, and mindsets.
  • More sustainable outcomes are associated with a transition toward less economic interdependence (greater self-reliance), which is underpinned by shifts in policy and norms.
  • Many respondents from the Global South expect a trend towards reduced inequality and a larger ecological footprint.
  • Almost all respondents, across all regions of the world, expect digital surveillance to significantly increase.

Futures CoLab

As a collaboration between Future Earth and MIT Center for Collective Intelligence launched in 2017, Futures CoLab was a collective intelligence initiative that brought together a network of diverse international experts to engage in a process for asynchronous and facilitated dialogue using online collaboration. Please read more about Futures CoLab work on the Future Earth website.

Expert Advisory Committee

Dr. Kalpana Chaudhari
Institute for Sustainable Development and Research, ISDR

Maurie Cohen
New Jersey Institute of Technology

Ajay Gambhir
Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London

Dr. Maria Ivanova
Center for Governance and Sustainability, John  W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts

Dr. Markus Reichstein
Department of Biogeochemical Integration, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Dr. Qian Ye
State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University

Casey Cronin
ClimateWorks Foundation

With support from

FRQ logo
Climateworks Foundation logo


Sustainability in the Digital Age logo
Future Earth logo
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