How can we provide sustainable modes of mobility in the future? To learn from the past but look ahead, not getting stuck to our days? Report by Bebel Abreu

This activation session on day 1 of WDCD Live 2017 was meant to make the audience rethink mobility in the near future by reframing it: using the method developed at TU Delft by Matthijs van Dijk and Paul Hekkert. Led by van Dijk (who is professor at both Delft University of Technology and NTNU Trondheim), also contributing to the discussion was world-class automotive designer Lowie Vermeersch.


To begin with, participants were challenged to take an ethical position in relation to mobility in the near future. We were encouraged to look beyond short-term solutions, past electric trains or driverless cars, and towards introducing new behavioral goals and using a very move forward approach; keeping in mind that mobility is not only about vehicles, but also technology, infrastructure, economy and – never forget – people.

The next step was to get into small groups and to pick three out of 60 given themes related to mobility – some quite easy to connect (Growing mobility in leisure time or Specialization of mobility, among others), other less obvious (such as Physical Co-presence and Online privacy). With the themes set, the groups were asked to imagine themselves in the year 2027 and, embodying the conditions of this new time, discuss ideas for one of 24 given goals. These ‘goals’ each highlighted a different aspect of mobility, such as affectivity (the potential of excitement, material tranquility, happiness), task-oriented goals (innovations in management, material gain or safety), intellectual creativity and so on.

The final aim of the session was then for each group to present a statement with their thoughts and expectations for mobility and society in 2027.


The results were daring and surprising. Ideas came from new and exciting angles, such as connecting people physically by creating more local festivals, in order to make them travel more mentally instead of going to other cities or countries. In the words of van Dijk, “It is wonderful to see people so concentrated, working together in meaningful themes – it is more than ideation, but also to accomplish goals. It is impressive to see how quickly you can go in depth if you have the right tools. People are really creating creative content in a very dynamic way.” At this rate, we’ll have much more to look forward to than just flying cars.

Top photo: A group discussing their vision for 2027 (photo Leo Veger)

DAMN THE REARVIEW MIRROR was an Activation Session exploring the theme of climate action and mobility at WDCD Live Amsterdam 2017.


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