About Horizons

Horizons Circular Click to Enlarge

We can’t predict our future economy. But we do know the trends driving its development – like the digital revolution, levels of pollution, public trust, and energy security. These factors shape markets, disrupt business models and shift the political landscape. They may present risks for your organisation, but also reveal global market opportunities for entirely new solutions.

To create successful businesses and societies in the long term, we need to think sustainably. Horizons has been developed to help you do just that.

Click on a sub-section below to read more:

What is Horizons

Horizons is based on the Sustainable Economy Framework (SEF), which was developed by Forum for the Future, Innovate UK and Aviva Investors. Horizons defines what we mean by a sustainable economy – one that operates within safe environmental limits and delivers social value. You can see an image of the framework by clicking on the diagram on the left to enlarge.

The outer ring of Horizons shows the environmental boundaries that keep our planet in good health, the middle ring shows the social and political foundations that enable our societies to flourish, and the essential needs for us human beings to survive and thrive are on the inner ring.

By understanding these issues and the trends associated with them, you can start to prepare your business or organisation better for the future.

Horizons takes each of the issues and presents them as ‘cards’. On each you’ll find an overview of the issue, an explanation of why it’s important, and suggestions for ways in which you can take account of the risks and opportunities. We help guide you by suggesting actions that you or your organisation must, should or could take.

With each card you’ll find key facts and links to external resources; from videos to reports. And you’ll find plenty of case studies showing what a wide range of businesses and organisations across many sectors are doing to tackle these issues. Companies like Caterpillar, Unilever, Pepsico, M&S and Pret a Manger are profiled, showing how they’re responding to these issues.

This knowledge will help shape a successful long-term strategy, inform commercial decisions, and stimulate new innovations.


 We have used Horizons in workshops with a number of organisations, to test strategies, formulate work plans and identify challenges or opportunities. You can read case studies of workshops with Julie's Bicycle and Peterborough Environment City Trust

How was Horizons created?

The Sustainable Economy Framework (SEF), from which Horizons has been created, was developed and tested by Forum for the Future, Innovate UK and Aviva Investors. It was developed by building on and synthesising the best research and thinking from around the world.

The development team behind the SEF explored over 40 sources. One of the most significant was the ‘Planetary Boundaries’ concept developed by Rockstrom et al, and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Rockstrom team. We also built from:

A list of all of key sources can be found below in Other frameworks and resources.

The team established commonalities and differences between the various sources that were then distilled down into the crucial areas reflected in the SEF.

The framework was stress-tested with stakeholder groups and leading thinkers convened through Innovate UK and Aviva Investors.

Further research in specific areas helped the team to understand and test the sustainability ‘boundaries’ and ‘foundations’. These were then translated into cards for use in workshops.

Both the SEF and Horizons will be refreshed and updated with relevant data and trends when appropriate.

Who created Horizons?

Innovate UK

Innovate UK is all about driving innovation.

Our role is to stimulate technology-enabled innovation in the areas which offer the greatest scope for boosting UK growth and productivity. We promote, support and invest in technology research, development and commercialisation. We spread knowledge, bringing people together to solve problems or make new advances.

We advise Government on how to remove barriers to innovation and accelerate the exploitation of new technologies. And we work in areas where there is a clear potential business benefit, helping today's emerging technologies become the growth sectors of tomorrow.

Forum For The Future

Forum for the Future is a sustainability non-profit working globally with business, government and others to solve tricky challenges.

We have a particular focus on today’s food, energy and finance systems – the challenges we face are big and systemic, and can’t just be solved at the organisational level.

Futures is a big part of the work we do. While we can’t predict the future, we can think more about the sort of future we want, and how to achieve it.

We share what they’ve learned so that others can benefit – and act.

Aviva Investors

Aviva Investors is a global asset management business dedicated to building and providing focused investment solutions for clients which include local government organisations, pension funds, wholesale and retail banks, insurance companies, charities and private wealth managers.

Aviva Investors is wholly owned by Aviva plc, the world’s sixth largest insurance group. It has over 1,400 people in 16 countries focused on the Aviva Investors business and assets under management in excess of £259 billion (as at 31 December 2010) across a range of real estate, equity, fixed income, money market and alternative funds.

Contribute to Horizons

We hope that you find the resources within this tool useful. We’re always keen to receive suggestions for facts, case studies and links to extra resources. Please send these to horizons@ktn-uk.org

Download All Cards

Here you can download and print an entire set of the cards, which you can use alongside or separate to the digital version.

Please try to print on two sides where possible.

Download All Cards


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