Preventing a dystopian future:


Our event aims to challenge business's thinking about what more they could do to avoid a dystopian future by working with society through collaborating and thinking towards the future.

About this event

CAF believes that business has the potential to be a catalyst for positive change to tackle the challenges we face in society both today and in the future. Businesses are well placed to help identify and support local needs, whether close to home or around the world.

Being in tune to your local community is crucial in creating long term prosperity.

The world around us is changing and the notions of ‘people unite’, ‘community’ and ‘collective movements’ are stronger than ever before. If business wants to remain relevant they cannot ignore the voices from investors, consumers and employees.

We are excited to bring together a panel of expert speakers who will seek to answer the important questions; ‘How close are we to dystopia? How does business need to respond?’

We will explore the growing phenomenon of collective movements and how they are changing the rules of engagement. Take a deep dive into the importance of collaboration between business and society. Finally, identify what action is required to create a sustainable future for all.


Register to secure your place

We will operate a 'first come, first served' policy until the event reaches capacity, after which you'll be put on a waiting list.

CAF accept direct debit donations

22 January, 2019
9.30 am - 11.30 am



The Royal Institution
21 Albemarle Street


9.00 am arrival & registration
9.30 am start
10.00 am panel discussion
11.00 am Q&A
11.30 am end & networking

Will dystopian fiction become reality?

Increasingly the futures painted by the likes of Charlie Brooker (Black Mirror), Russell T Davies (Years and Years), and Margaret Atwood (The Handmaids Tale) are becoming a reality. Or are they?

It’s hard to ignore the points that these writers are trying to make when it feels so relevant today – these stories are gradually blurring the lines between fiction and real life, reminding us that we can no longer ignore disasters such as the irrevocable biodiversity loss caused by deforestation. Or the fact that water scarcity could threaten a quarter of our global population. Not to mention the disruption that extreme weather events could cause to lives and economies globally.    

Encouragingly, the collective growing unease about the reality of a dystopian future is beginning to shift the dial among businesses, government and the public.

The winds of change have begun to flow

Over the past two years there have been increasing grassroots ‘movements’ and ‘action’, including Greta Thunberg leading school children to act against climate change, Extinction Rebellion urging environmental policy changes in government, consumers making conscious decisions to restore the planet, impact/ESG investing rising in popularity and businesses increasingly taking a sustainable business approach.

There is a real business imperative to ensure that companies are listening and acting, whether it’s through innovating products and services, engaging with communities or future-proofing business models. Being prepared to engage in tough discussions could be a real differentiator.  
Women with tablet

But who should take the lead?

Change won’t happen in isolation and we need to work together to ensure that we are creating a sustainable and fair planet for future generations. The call for ‘bold action’ is universally loud and clear, but who should be taking the lead?

Is it businesses, local governments, countries, the United Nations, communities, individuals? Are the Sustainable Development Goals the answer or do we need to go beyond them?

We hope to uncover this and much more at our event, and to both inspire and enable businesses to claim their seat at the table for these kinds of tough discussions. 


  • Stefan Stern, Event Chair

    Stefan Stern, Event Chair

    Columnist for the FT, Guardian and Visiting Professor at Cass Business School

    Stefan has been writing and commenting on business and management for almost three decades. His career in journalism has included stints at Euromoney, the BBC, Management Today magazine, and the Financial Times, where he was the management columnist between 2006 and 2010. In October 2010, Stefan was appointed Visiting Professor in management practice at the Cass Business School, City, University of London. He is a Fellow of the RSA, and continues to write for the FT and the Guardian, among other titles. He is also the author, with Prof Cary Cooper, of “Myths of Management – what people get wrong about being the boss” (Kogan Page, October 2017). His second book, “How To Be A Better Leader” (Bluebird – PanMacmillan), was published in March 2019.

  • Janek Seevaratnam, CAF

    Janek Seevaratnam, CAF

    Senior Corporate Advisor

    Janek leads CAF’s consultancy offering, working with major companies – from best loved brands to industry-leading multinationals – who want embed social impact as a core component of their business strategies. After consulting charities on how to measure their impact with rigour and accountability, Janek moved to CAF where he identified the critical need to shift companies’ thinking to go beyond measuring numbers and start understanding the meaningful changes they create for people and planet.

  • Rebecca Birkbeck

    Rebecca Birkbeck

    Director Community & Shared Value, Co-op

    Rebecca manages Co-op’s community activity, under the Co-operate 2022 plan focused on supporting community spaces, skills development and community wellbeing. This includes management of the local community fund which in the last 3 years has awarded over £56m to over 16,000 local causes supported by Co-op members. Previous roles include CEO for The Join In Trust, which built on the legacy of London 2012 to encourage more people to volunteer in sport and Deloitte as Strategy Director in the Consulting practice.

  • Tom Cheesewright

    Tom Cheesewright

    Applied Futurist

    Tom is an Applied Futurist, helping people and organisations around the world to see the future more clearly, share their vision, and respond with innovation. An accomplished speaker and broadcaster, he specialises in connecting tomorrow’s world to today’s experience, making sense of what’s happening next, and why. Tom’s clients include global 500 corporations, government departments, industry bodies and charities. He is also a frequent presence in the media, his face, voice, and unusual name is recognisable from weekly appearances on TV and radio. 

  • Mary Kunnenkeril

    Mary Kunnenkeril

    Strategic Lead, Inclusive Economy Partnership, Cabinet Office

    Mary is the strategic lead for the Inclusive Economy Partnership and sits in the Business Partnerships Team in the Cabinet Office. She is responsible for developing and driving high-impact action across the internal IEP team and our Advisory Board. In addition, she manages the Cabinet Office's relationship with financial services and professional services firms; helping them to navigate Whitehall and to bring their voice into early policy development.


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