Calling all Swan Spotters

Volans is welcoming Shizenkan University’s Center for Sustainability and Innovation to share examples of positive exponentials.

Despite — and increasingly because of — COVID-19, there are exciting signs of a potentially regenerative future building all around. Although a sustainability-inflected recovery is far from guaranteed, Green Swans and Ugly Ducklings can put key elements of the global economy onto an exponentially positive path. They are on the horizon: we just need to know where to look.

Volans’ Green Swan Observatory has been established to be this spotlight, scanning the world and searching out evidence of Green Swan dynamics driving forward positively exponential change.

The Observatory collates practical, verified examples of market shifts, businesses, policy innovation, technologies and individuals with demonstrated potential to drive rapid and radical change across issues, themes and geographies.

We are now turning our scanning lenses to Asia in general — and Japan in particular. We invite you to share examples you believe encapsulate forms of regeneration we need to see scaled, from your own part of the world.

Green Swans and Ugly Ducklings

We’re scanning Asia for case studies of both Green Swans and ‘Ugly Ducklings’. Whilst in the same family, they have key distinguishing characteristics, as defined below:

A Green Swan is a profound market shift, generally catalysed by some combination of wicked problems and, among other things, shifting paradigms, values, mindsets, politics, policies, technologies and business models. It represents a market trajectory that takes us in a direction that looks impossible, but over time will become inevitable.

Some examples include: the shift from fossil fuels to renewables for energy generation; Green New Deals; the positive disruption of the soil-agriculture-food-nutrition-health nexus due to technological and behavioural changes, including precision and regenerative agriculture, cellular agriculture, vertical farming and the growth of meatless diets.

An Ugly Duckling is an early-stage concept, innovation, policy measure, mindset, technology or venture with the potential to feed into the solutions we need, to become a market-changing Green Swan – or conversely to grow into a Black Swan driven by bad exponentials. In today’s environment it can look peculiar and a bit of a misfit, but it has within itself a very different future. Its quirky appearance, however, means that its potential evolution into a Green Swan can be hard to detect early on. So, we need observant duckling detectors to identify these green swans in-the-making.

Some examples include: the Impossible Burger, early versions of which cost more than most people earn in a year; the Waymo vehicle, a prototype autonomous car; the hash-tag #MeToo; the rapid growth of the impact investment sector to reach over $500 billion today.

Share your Green Swan and Ugly Duckling examples

Please share your suggestion using the relevant form below. Once we have received all suggestions from our partners we will create a shortlist, and those chosen will be the inaugural candidates for the Green Swan Observatory.

Green Swans      Ugly Ducklings

The Observatory builds on the ongoing Green Swans campaign, which includes the recent launch of John Elkington’s Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism. It is part of Volans’ Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry, which concludes that both Green Swan market trends and Ugly Duckling innovations need to be embraced at speed and scale among companies, investors, advisors and policy makers. So, please step up and play your part in this transition by submitting your suggestions via the forms below.

We look forward to receiving your suggestions. Arigato gozaimasu!