Alex Steffen



Alex Steffen speaker, worldchanging, keynote, sustainability

The planetary crisis we face demands that we build a new world at a scale, scope and speed we’ve never seen, or even anticipated. To build a better world, we must first explore our new realities and work to imagine the potential (not just the peril) our future holds. We’re living into that future, together here within what feels like an ever-smaller planet. All good thinking is now planetary thinking.


Alex Steffen is an award-winning writer, speaker and foresight consultant, “One of the world’s leading voices on sustainability and the future of the planet” (Vancouver Sun).

From 2003 – 2010, he ran the pioneering sustainability and social innovation project, and edited two best-selling Worldchanging books.  Before that, he worked for almost a decade in newspapers and radio, covering planetary change on four continents.

Alex Steffen is a prolific writer and public thinker, having written thousands of pieces, been profiled in numerous media interviews and given hundreds of talks to audiences around the world. Over the last ten years he has also advised some of the world’s most forward-looking institutions, investors, philanthropists and NGOs.

In 2013-2014, he was Planetary Futurist in Residence at the design and innovation firm IDEO.


His 2012 book «Carbon Zero: Imagining cities that can save the planet» is an exploration of the kinds of design, technological and policy innovations that can transform our cities into low-carbon engines of prosperity.


In 2016, Steffen successfully ran a crowd-funding campaign for The Heroic Future: a three part series of documentaries on how we might imagine a sustainable future. The theme was you cannot build what you cannot imagine. The series was filmed in front of a live audience over three nights in September 2016 at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre in San Francisco.

Alex has a rare ability to connect planetary thinking to our most practical concerns, and his lively, engaging talks have wowed hundreds of audiences with their combination of practical sense, visionary insight and humor.

From the stage of the TED Conference to boardrooms of leading corporations to lecture halls in some of the world’s most prestigious universities, Alex Steffen has shown a remarkable talent for helping audiences understand the role of world-changing ideas and trends in their own lives and work.


Carbon Zero: Imagining Cities That Can Save the Planet.

How to Think Like a Worldchanger.

Bright Green Strategies for Thriving in Tough Times.

The Future for Beginners.

Carbon Zero: Imagining Cities That Can save the Planet.

Carbon Zero is a short, clear, optimistic look at how cities can succeed in the age of climate consequences. It’s about changing how we grow our cities, so we can seize a better future. Whether your main concern is the future of your neighborhood or the future of the planet, this is a book you need to read. The climate crisis is upon us, it’s massive and it’s getting worse quickly. We must make bold and rapid reductions in our climate emissions. In fact, in just the next couple decades we must achieve net-zero climate emissions. That target, zero carbon, presents a stupendous challenge.

Our cities, though, give us amazing opportunities to reduce our climate emissions while improving both our economy and our communities. Solutions abound. From cutting edge green buildings to more walkable neighborhoods, new “walkshed” technologies to green infrastructure, the sharing economy to the reconnection of urban places to rural nature, we have a tool chest of approaches that can make our lives frugal in energy but abundant in wealth and quality of life. If we bring the best solutions together in our cities, we can build cities that can lead us into the zero-carbon future. We can’t build, though, what we can’t imagine. Carbon Zero takes on the task of imagining how all these innovations might work together, and gives you the tools to reimagine the possibilities of your city. It’s not a blueprint. It’s not a manifesto. Carbon Zero is an invitation to imagine winning the climate fight.

Carbon Zero: Imagining Cities That Can save the Planet.

Worldchanging 2.0

Worldchanging 2.0 is an urban book, focusing on cities and the systems we need to change to make them carbon-neutral, zero-waste, walkable and equitable engines of prosperity. It’s an ambitious book, full of the kinds of bold thinking we need to engage with to build a truly bright green future: climate foresight and planetary thinking; sustainable design innovations and passivhaus buildings; walksheds, ubiquitous technology and sharing systems; biomimicry and green chemistry; adaptive re-use and rugged green infrastructure; telling the backstories of the things we buy, making transparent the functioning of our governments and rebuilding the ruins of the unsustainable. On a planet hurtling towards not only a population of 9 billion people, almost all living in or around cities, facing a massive ecological crisis and an unfaltering technological revolution, ideas like the ones in Worldchanging are no longer just provocative, they’re essential. Worldchanging is a guide to building (and living in) bright green cities.

Now, not in some distant, perfect future. The new Worldchanging features a foreword by green jobs pioneer Van Jones, an introduction by 350 founder Bill McKibben and entries by scores of Worldchanging’s insightful thinkers, journalists and designers. It is optimistic, clear-headed, solutions-oriented; both visionary and practical. Worldchanging 2.0 is the definitive result of seven years of global solutions-based journalism. It’s a wild, ambitious, imperfect and energetic book, and the best summation of the Worldchanging project we knew how to create. And though Stefan Sagmeister’s new design is gorgeous, we hope the ideas inside are what make this a book you read and return to and use to drive your own creativity and solutions. Worldchanging may not change your life, but it may change how you design your future.

Worldchanging 2.0


Worldchanging is packed with information, resources, reviews, and ideas that give readers access to the tools they need to build a better future. Written by a diverse collaborative of innovators, Worldchanging demonstrates that the means for making a difference lie all around us. This team of top-notch writers, brought together by founder Alex Steffen, includes Cameron Sinclair, founder of Architecture for Humanity, Geekcore founder Ethan Zuckerman, and sustainable food expert Anne Lappé, among many others.

Each chapter offers practical answers to important questions, such as: Why does buying locally produced food make sense? What steps can we take to influence our workplace toward sustainability? How can we travel, live, work, and learn in world-changing ways? How, in short, can we participate in building a better future locally and globally? Worldchanging proves that a life that is sustainably prosperous, thoughtful and democratic, dynamic and peaceful, is not just possible, it’s here.