Sustainable Societies Project: Writing a Better Future

What is a sustainable society?

A sustainable society is a society in balance, one that is environmentally, socially and economically viable/stable and does not diminish the chances of future generations. In a sustainable society, consumption does not outweigh resources, and practices do not contribute to climate change. It is also a socially just society which is focused on human wellbeing and equality. Economic practices in a sustainable society are not exploitative; they are influenced by environmental and social factors. Essentially, a sustainable society is one in which personal, social and environmental wellbeing are at the centre of all practices.

Why tell sustainable stories?

One of the key challenges faced by the modern world is sustainable development. While we aspire to live in a society that balances consumption with conservation, it is difficult to imagine such a future. The magnitude of the challenge and the familiar doomsday narratives that surround climate change have the potential to leave us feeling hopeless and with the belief that we do not have any agency over our own future.

Storytelling can change the way we view the future. While most stories set in the future present a pessimistic view of society, this project aims to harness the power of stories by exploring a world in which sustainable practices are embedded in everyday life. We want to use storytelling to create a positive vision of how future societies can function.

Sustainable Societies Short Story Competition

We want you to write a story of up to 3500 words in any genre that looks at the ideas around sustainable societies.  The story might be set in a sustainable society; it might include characters who engage in sustainable practices: for example, your story may be a thriller but the hero may have a carbon credit card, or a rom-com but the heroine has a garden on her roof. Or it might depict a dystopian future resulting from a lack of sustainable practices. Further details about the competition, can be found here.

Resources to help you imagine a sustainable society

 This website presents ideas and information useful to imagine a sustainable society. Check out our pages for ideas that have the potential to transform society. Each page provides links to articles/videos that describe the ideas and also ideas for how such ideas may be integrated into stories. Feel free to include any ideas of your own as well.


  1. The world made a big mistake by green economy in Rio +20!
    It is not to have talked with a green economic principle and economic indicators!
    It might be just completed if we talked!
    The United Nations should have the opportunity of talking about once again!

  2. My only addition would be to highlight that socially just societies go beyond human equality and wellbeing to include nonhuman. The pivotal shift to include nonhumans within our considerations of justice and wellbeing is necessary if we are to rebalance.

  3. The odds on this look good.
    Who else is entering?
    I have an idea for a business called Better Battery Recycling
    The New Enterprise allowance calls for a five year lookahead plan, if I wrote an answer “looking back” to five years from now, then that kind of perspective is easier to create. I might give this a go!

  4. Hi Denise! I believe my short story is out of the competition because it is up to 9000 words, but maybe you would just like to read it. It is exactly about the ideal sustainable society of the future. You can find it in this link:
    If you have problems reading Scribd documents, try in the Chapter 5 on my blog :

    1. Hi
      You are over the word limit and past the deadline so we can’t consider your story. But we do hope to run more competitions, so keep an eye on our social media channels for more information.

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