The wind is in our sails. - The Forecast 14 - Magazine | Monocle

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Sometimes the answer is simpler than you imagine. The International Maritime Organization has committed to shipping becoming carbon neutral “by or around, ie close to, 2050”. While that horizon may seem both hazy and a long way off, it has at least forced the industry to start thinking about plotting a different course.

For this outing of The Forecast, we have looked at the new technology and ingenious projects being devised to help ships become greener. We have also met the buccaneers who have already created  a series of carbon-free shipping routes thanks to something altogether more analogue: old sailing boats able to move goods around Europe and across the Atlantic, powered by nothing more than wind. Now this is not going to help with transporting delivery trucks or tankers of oil just yet, but if you need to move wine from France to Denmark, or artworks from Germany to the US, then you might want to contact those aboard the Tres Hombres.

We always want everything that we do at Monocle to be a rooted in reality as we take stock of all the options and sometimes select the fix that might have existed for a long time. But as we look across that horizon and into the year ahead, we also want The Forecast to tackle some thornier ideas. That’s why our essay pages explore why artificial intelligence might prove to be less worrisome than some doomsters are predicting, the challenges facing Saudi Arabia as it tries to refocus its economy on entrepreneurship and how the cult of self-improvement can be bad for you.

Over the coming pages we will also introduce you to Crete’s food pioneers, who are setting an example to us all by understanding the value of keeping things local. We will visit a design school in Venice where the students are learning about resilient design – not only from their professors but also by observing on a daily basis the environmental challenges faced by this perilously positioned city. And we get a lesson in aesthetics from South Korea as we discover how that nation’s perceptions of beauty are influencing the world.

Another main focus of The Forecast is our annual Small Cities Index. Now in its fifth year, we have shifted the focus to spotlight the places with populations below 350,000 that match the precise needs of a variety of folk. Want architectural inspiration? An island abode? A great start-up city?  Well, we have got you covered.

And finally, there’s a beautiful – if challenging – Expo from regular Monocle photographer Zed Nelson. Over the past six years, Nelson has travelled to 14 countries to watch humans as they watch nature, from zoos and national parks to a shopping centre with penguins trapped behind glass. This photographic survey asks us to value nature, to leave it alone, to stop trying to tame it. The coming year will be full of challenges but the squalls and tempests can be navigated, safe ports found. And we will be here to provide the compass. 

So here’s to a joyful and prosperous 2024 from everyone at Monocle.

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