Green Swans

Part of Volans’ Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry, the latest book from John Elkington highlights how businesses can be catalysts for systems change. Drawing on first-hand experience from boardrooms around the world, and our Inquiry findings, the book examines wicked problems and the ‘ugly ducklings’ of today that have the potential to become tomorrow’s world-saving Green Swans.

Green Swans: Definition

A Green Swan is a profound market shift, generally catalysed by some combination of Black or Grey Swan challenges and changing paradigms, values, mindsets, politics, policies, technologies, business models, and other key factors.

A Green Swan delivers exponential progress in the form of economic, social, and environmental wealth creation. At worst, it achieves this outcome in two dimensions while holding the third steady. There may be a period of adjustment where one or more dimensions underperform, but the aim is an integrated breakthrough in all three dimensions.

Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism


Green Swans are extraordinary — in a counterintuitive pairing, they often rise phoenix-like out of the ashes of Black Swan events.

John Elkington, Founder and Author

Our work on Green Swans so far:

  1. filmed launch event on 23 June 2019 at the Barnes Wetland Centre, featuring speakers like Sir Tim Smit of The Eden Project, WWF UK CEO Tanya Steele and Mark Campanale of the Carbon Tracker Initiative.
  2. A major book, Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism, by John Elkington, his twentieth. This was published by Fast Company Press in April 2020.
  3. The Green Swans Bookclub, join us – virtually for now – in discussing key books for the exponential decade.
  4. The Green Swans World Tour, with events, dates and venues to be announced in our Events section.
  5. The Green Swan Award, with the first two awarded at the Tomorrow’s Capitalism Forum in January 2020. The first formal call for entries will be made in late Spring, with next round of awards made in the Autumn/Fall of 2020.

The second phase of our Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry will focus on how to accelerate the emergence of Green Swan trajectories, particularly in response to the climate emergency.