Cover Story: Forward thinking

Our world in 20 years’ time

Sir Richard Branson has a habit of writing letters to himself at different ages. Recently his children, Holly and Sam, challenged him to write a letter to himself 20 years hence, at 85. ‘Here’s my very optimistic letter to 85-year-old me,’ he says.

September 2036
Dear Richard,

It’s great to see that you’re still making the most of every day. Who said life had to slow down beyond 65? Your parents were wonderful examples of living to the fullest; whenever you feel tired or down, think back to what they were like in their 90s – brimming with energy and beaming with positivity.

And wow, what wonderful things the world has achieved since I last wrote. Today is a sight for sore eyes. Twenty years ago we were up against so many challenges. At the time, it was hard to look past all the doom and gloom. But we persevered.

The Global Goals were a wonderful turning point. Those 17 milestones gave the world the push it needed to sit up, pay attention, and work towards creating a better future for all people and the planet. Like individuals, we as a human race need to collectively set goals. Without them it’s too easy to rest on our laurels and get sidetracked by trivial things.

We learned this at COP21, when the world’s leaders came together to set a target of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. And look where we are now. We are moving towards bringing climate change in check. What incredible things we can achieve when governments, business, non-profits and individuals work together!

It’s also wonderful to see how far we’ve come in advancing equality. Can you believe that in 2016, one billion people lived in extreme poverty; only 21 countries legally recognised same-sex marriage; and women in the US earned around just 79 cents per every dollar earned by men? It’s shocking, isn’t it?

It was also so upsetting to see so many people displaced from their countries due to war and persecution. Today it’s so heartening to witness just how much these former refugees are thriving in their adopted homes. Empathy and openmindedness are the foundations of a peaceful world. We must always welcome those facing hardships with open arms – it’s our duty as human beings.

Today’s world is not without it’s challenges, but the past 20 years show us that we can overcome what ever we put out minds to. Never stop looking to create positive change. Do it for the for the sake of your grandchildren, who, by the way, are now 20!

Time sure does fly when you’re having fun. Keep that blinding sense of optimism that you have had since you were a boy. Remember to always shoot for the moon – even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.

Good luck!
Richard

Sir Richard was writing in his blog at www.virgin.com/richard-branson

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