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Product, Service & Design Innovation
‘Moonshot' Thinking for the Planet’s New Challenges

Coined after we first set foot on the Moon 50 years ago, 'Moonshot' thinking means applying disruptive, innovative thinking to difficult problems. Today, we have access to means and resources that were unimaginable 50 years ago. Let’s make the impossible possible again.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of man's landing on the Moon. Once again, we have relived the impact of the amazing images of Neil Armstrong next to the Apollo 11, crowning his feat with his legendary walk on the lunar surface, revealing humanity’s astonishing capacity to make practically any challenge a reality. And today, with the potential provided by technology, our possibilities are almost boundless.

Beyond such great feats, life is full of stories of people who achieve incredible things. In fact, it’s human nature to constantly set ourselves challenges and defy nature to prove that we can excel.

However, in spite of showing how proud we are of the goals reached — as is the case with the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the most interstellar journey of all time — little or nothing has been said about the current challenges faced by humanity. And these are not few — or to be more precise, not trivial. Because, beyond a space race that still continues, which includes an objective to reach Mars (will there be water on the Red Planet?), we have much more down-to-earth problems to solve. The main one is, of course, to save our own planet, for which we need to change the order of many things.

This is precisely where the concept of 'Moonshot Thinking' is coined, through its link to the challenge of changing the world as we know it to make it a better place to live in. Before being able to take that first step on the Moon, human beings dreamed of reaching it, of making the impossible possible. Well, this approach — applying disruptive innovation — is what has given rise to 'Moonshot' thinking, which tries to tackle a difficult problem using innovative solutions.

This is what we have proposed for the fifth edition of Sustainable Brands® Madrid — the international benchmark meeting in Europe on sustainable development: to use disruptive thinking to deal with the global challenge of making a planet with more than 7.6 billion people more habitable; while fostering fairer, more inclusive and equal societies.

To this end, five disruptive ideas, or 'moonshots,' have been identified as necessary to promote changes that will speed up the transition to a people-centred economy that will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The first one is how to tackle the growing climate crisis. The Earth's temperature has risen by 1 degree since the pre-industrial period, and the climate continues to change around the world. The second is inequality: there are 821 million people suffering from hunger in the world; and in 2017, just 8 people from the so-called “first world” concentrated in their hands the same wealth as the 3,600 million people from the poorest half.

This, in part, leads us to the third moonshot: Migration. Almost 71 million people have been forced to leave their homes because of famine, war or to seek a better life. The fourth relates to the future of work. Many jobs as we know them today will disappear because of the fourth industrial revolution; but other new roles will appear, many of which do not even exist yet.

And lastly, we need to meet SDG 17 and create alliances between civil society, businesses and countries to make Agenda 2030 a reality. And that may prove to be a much more complex challenge than reaching the Moon.

Today, we have access to means and resources that were unimaginable 50 years ago. Let’s make the impossible possible again.