The Commission has been active since December 2019 and has produced two key reports:  Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century and Food is at the Heart of our Future. This July, we have published a Letter to all Australians which has the support of 200 public figures (listed below) as well as 2,366 concerned citizens who have indicated their support. You are invited to add your support here.

As nations worldwide deal with the economic consequences of their battle with the coronavirus, it’s time to change direction so that humanity can survive and thrive far into the future. We cannot go back to business as usual.

The coronavirus crisis, with its economic and social impacts, can be seen as a dress rehearsal for what awaits us. Unless we take unified preventative action urgently, we will continue to be caught napping by ten catastrophic threats, including destructive changes in climate, serious shortages of water and other critical resources, pervasive pollution, the growing danger of nuclear war and the mass extinction of species.

The world, its governments, corporations and people, are unprepared for these risks because we have constantly ignored, in some cases for decades, well-substantiated warnings about them from science. As a result, as surely as the coronavirus followed last summer’s bushfires, we face crisis piling upon unanticipated crisis at an ever-increasing rate.

This MUST change. Hoping to relax back into the way we were is not an option. Societies have already demonstrated unexpected willingness to adjust behaviour, in ways they probably never imagined, in response to the pandemic.

The catastrophic risks we face, the policy pathways we must consider and some of the solutions to individual risks are described in the report “Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century” by the Commission for the Human Future.

We call on all governments, industries and people to join together in developing a national dialogue, sound policies and a concrete plan for surviving and thriving amid the mounting dangers that beset humanity.

We can and must move in a new direction to ensure a positive future for our children and theirs.

Yours sincerely,

  • Phillip Adams Broadcaster and Author
  • Robyn Alders Senior Consulting Fellow, Centre for Universal Health, Chatham House, UK
  • Percy Allan Professor, Public policy and Governance UTS and Former Secretary NSW Treasury
  • Jon Altman Social scientist
  • Neil Armfield Director, theatre, film and opera
  • Paul Atkins Institute of Positive Psychology & Education Australian Catholic University
  • Kate Auty Chair, Environmental Protection Authority, Victoria Governing Board.
  • Bronwyn Bancroft Artist
  • Greg Barns SC Barrister and writer
  • Jimmy Barnes Rock star, songwriter and author
  • Paul Barratt Former Secretary Department of Defence, Co- Deputy Chair CHF
  • Chris Barrie Former Chief of Defence Force, Adjunct Professor at the ANU Strategic Defence Studies Centre
  • Allan Behm Head, International Security Affairs, Australia Institute
  • Larissa Behrendt Director, Research and Academic Programs Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research UTS.
  • John Bell Actor
  • Bill Bellotti Professor, School of Agriculture & Food Sciences UQ
  • Jonathan Biggins Actor, writer and director
  • John Blackburn Chair, Institute for Integrated Economic Research
  • Justin Borevitz Group Leader, Borevitz Group - Plant Genomics for Climate Adaption ANU
  • Anne Borzycki Director, Institute for Integrated Economic Research
  • Sinead Boylan Executive Director | Sydney Food and Nutrition Network
  • Steve Bracks Former Premier Victoria, Chair CBUS
  • Corey Bradshaw Professor, Global Ecology, Flinders University
  • Braydon Broad President Union, University of Tasmania
  • Bob Brown Former Leader of Greens, Founder Bob Brown Foundation
  • Michael Brown Former Deputy Director, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
  • Quentin Bryce Former Governor General of Australia
  • Mara Bun President, Australian Conservation Foundation
  • Rhonda Burchmore Entertainer
  • Julian Burnside Commercial litigation barrister and advocate for human rights
  • Mark Burrows Investment banker
  • Tina Bursill Actress
  • Dennis Bushnell Chief Scientist, NASA Langley Research Center
  • Colin Butler Professor of Epidemiology, Flinders University
  • Geoff Butler Council member, Australian Native Plants Society Canberra
  • Helen Caldicott Founding President, Physicians for Social Responsibility, 1985 Nobel Peace Prize winner
  • Bob Carr Former Minister Foreign Affairs, Former Premier NSW
  • Peter Carre Principal, BioHub
  • Mary Chiarella Emeritus Professor University of Sydney
  • Ian Chubb Former Chief Scientist
  • Judith Clingan Composer, visual artist, writer and educator
  • John Coates Vice-President, International Olympic Committee
  • Brad Collis Writer, photo journalist
  • Peter Combe Children's entertainer, musician
  • Steven Cork Adjunct Associate Professor, Crawford School of Public Policy, Principal EcoInsights
  • Tim Costello Director, Ethical Voice Pty Ltd
  • Geoff Cousins Businessman, Environmentalist
  • Simon Crean Former Minister, Former Leader ALP, Secretary ACTU
  • Bill Crews CEO & Founder Exodus Foundation
  • Julian Cribb Science journalist and author
  • Alison Crook Chair, Enova Community Energy
  • Mary CunnaneEditor and publishing consultant
  • Ian DavidScreenwriter
  • Geoff Davies Geoscientist, Economic Author and Commentator
  • Ed Davis Emeritus Professor of Economics, Macquarie University
  • Glyn Davis CEO Ramsey Foundation, Distinguished Professor Political Science ANU,Former VC,University of Melbourne
  • Leigh DaytonScience Writer and CHF Board member
  • Patrick De DeckkerEmeritus Professor, ANU Research SChool of Earth Sciences
  • Howard Dengate Food Intolerance Network
  • Dickson Despommier Emeritus Professor Microbiology and Public Health, Columbia University.
  • Linh Do Bertha Fellow, Plan International Australia
  • Peter Doherty Immunologist,Doherty Institute University of Melbourne,1995 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine
  • Mark Dorman Board member , CHF
  • Bob Douglas Epidemiologist, Emeritus Professor ANU, Secretary CHF
  • Ian Dunlop Member Club of Rome, former fossil fuel executive
  • Christine Dunstan Theatre Producer, retired
  • Paul Ehrlich Bing Professor of Population Studies Emeritus, Chair, Millennium Alliance for Humanity and Biosphere Stanford University
  • Susannah Eliott CEO Australian Science Media Centre
  • Craig Emerson Former Trade Minister, Economist
  • Gareth Evans Former Cabinet Minister, Distinguished Hon Professor ANU
  • (John) Lindsay Falvey Emeritus Professor Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne,
  • Peter Farley Victorian Committee Member Engineers Australia
  • Peter FitzSimons Author, journalist
  • Tim Flannery Conservationist
  • Hannah Ford ACT State Campaigner, Australian Youth Climate Coalition. Board Member CHF
  • Kerrie Foxwell-Norton Associate Professor, Griffith University School of Humanities, Languages and Social
  • Sharon Friel Professor Health Equity ANU, Vice Chair CHF
  • Peter Fritz Chair, Global Access Partners, MD TCG Group
  • Geoff Gallop Former Premier Western Australia, Professor, University of Sydney
  • Peter Garrett Former Environment Minister, Lead singer Midnight Oil
  • Adrian Gibbs Emeritus Professor, ANU Virologist
  • Andrew Glikson Earth and Climate Scientist, ANU
  • Jenny Goldie Population and Climate Activist
  • Anna Goldworthy Pianist, writer
  • Paul Grabowsky Pianist, composer
  • Stan Grant Journalist, author
  • Neil Greet Director, Institute for integrated Economic Research
  • Russell Gruen Dean, College of Health & Medicine, ANU
  • Bruce Haigh Former diplomat, political commentator
  • Molly Harris Olsen CEO Fairtrade Australia New Zealand
  • Rachel Hay Arts-Law student, Board Member CHF
  • Stephen Hayes Chair &Exec Director Gravity iLabs
  • Judith Healy Social Scientist Health, Climate, Treasurer CHF
  • Connie Hedegaard Chair OECD’s Round Table for Sustainability, Former Euro Commissioner for Climate Action & Former Host UN Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009
  • Ken Henry Former Secretary Treasury and Author of the Henry Tax Review
  • Alex Hewitt Director CWP
  • John Hewson Professor Crawford School ANU, Former Liberal Opposition Leader, Chair CHF
  • Meredith Hinchcliffe Exhibition Curator
  • Richard Holden Professor of Economics UNSW
  • Tim Hollo Exec Director Green Institute
  • Chloe Hooper Author
  • James Horne Principal James Horne & Associates
  • Terence Hull Emeritus Professor, ANU
  • Arnagretta Hunter Cardiologist and Human Futures Fellow ANU, Board CHF
  • Sue Ingram Former Senior Executive APHS
  • Roland Jabbour President and National Chairman Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry
  • Ian Jacobs President and Vice Chancellor UNSW
  • Colin James Senior Lecturer, University of Newcastle Business School
  • Michael Jeffery Former Governor General, Founder Soils for Life
  • Barry Jones Former Science Minister and author
  • Mike Keating Former Secretary Departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Finance.
  • Bill Kelty Former Secretary, ACTU
  • Cheryl Kernot Former Leader Australian Democrats, Centre for Social Impact UNSW
  • Genevieve Lacey Recorder virtuoso
  • Marcia Langton Professor and Foundation Chair Australian Indigenous Studies, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health
  • Carmen Lawrence Former Premier Western Australia, social academic
  • Mark Lawrence Professor of Public Health Nutrition, Institute of Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University
  • Caroline Le Couteur Member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, Chair of the Standing Committee on Health, Ageing and Community Services
  • Alison Leigh World Congress of Science and Factual Producers, Board member CHF
  • Reg Livermore Citizen and entertainer
  • Simon Longstaff Director St James Ethics Centre
  • Ian Lowe Emeritus Professor Griffith University and Environmental Scientist
  • Julie Lyford Director Green Institute, Connected communities for Social Impacts Justice
  • Michael Lynch Chair Be Kind Sydney, Circa & Sydney Community Foundation
  • Hugh Mackay Social researcher and author
  • Bob Makinson Conservation botanist
  • Marshall McGuire Harpist
  • Elizabeth McIntyre CEO Think Brick
  • Merryn McKinnon Senior Lecturer, ANU Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
  • Fiona McLeod SC Barrister, Victorian Bar
  • Anna McMichael Co-ordinator of String Studies
  • Heather Mitchell Actress
  • Michael Mobbs Author, environmental consultant
  • First Dog on the Moon Cartoonist and author
  • Clover Moore Lord Mayor of Sydney
  • Michael Moore Immediate Past President World Federation of Public Health Associations
  • Graham Morrison Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Enginerring, UNSW
  • Melina Morrison Advocate and activist
  • Melina Morrison Advocate and activist
  • Peter Mould Former NSW Government Architect
  • Jonica Newby Science writer, journalist
  • Patrice Newell TV presenter, author & biodynamic farmer
  • Barbara Norman Professor, Urban and Regional Planning, University of Canberra
  • Kerry O'Brien Journalist and author
  • Mehmet Ozalp Director Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation
  • Martin Parkinson Former Secretary of Departments of Climate, Treasury and Prime Minister and Cabinet,Chancellor Macquarie University
  • Bruce Pascoe Writer
  • Steve Patrick Executive General Manager of the National COVID Technology Capability Development Portal
  • Richard Philip Eaton Former Judge Western Australia
  • Stephen Pickard Director, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture
  • Caroline Pidcock Chair, 1 Million Women, Spokesperson Australian Architects Declare a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency
  • Shirley Pipitone Founder Open Gardens Canberra, Public officer CHF
  • A. Barrie Pittock Nobel Peace Prize winner, former Head of the CSIRO Climate Impact Group
  • Vince Polito Cognitive Scientist, Macquarie University
  • John Quiggin Professor of Economics, UQ
  • Kate Raymond President NSW Farmers Market Alliance
  • Oliver Raymond Music Director, Capital Voices
  • Anna Reynolds Lord Mayor of Hobart
  • Oscar Rodriguez Director Architect and Food
  • Nick Rose Sustain: The Australian Food Network
  • Tilman Ruff Founding chair, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner
  • Richard Ruffin Emeritus Professor, University of Adelaide Department of Medicine
  • Susan Ryan Former Cabinet Minister, Australia's inaugural Age Discrimination Commissioner
  • Luis Salvador-Carulla Professor and Head Centre for Mental Health Research, ANU
  • Judith Savige Professor of Medicine, University of Melbourne
  • Ashley Schram Braithwaite Fellow, School of Regulation and Global Governance, ANU
  • Pennie Scott Grower of People, Ideas and Food
  • Rumtin Sepasspour Board member CHF
  • Rabia Siddique International Humanitarian, author
  • Dick Smith Adventurer and businessman
  • Tim Soutphommasane Professor and Director Culture Strategy, University of Sydney,Former Race Discrimination Commissioner
  • Mark Stafford Smith Honorary Fellow, CSIRO Land & Water
  • Fiona Stanley Distinguished Research Professor, University of Western Australia, Telethon Kids Institute
  • Will Steffen Emeritus Professor, ANU
  • Nigel Stewart Chairman, Stewart Partners
  • Keith Suter MD Global Directions
  • Wayne Swan Former Treasurer, Former G20 Finance Minister
  • Peter Tait General Practitioner and Secretary Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy
  • David Thoday Businessman
  • John Thwaites Chair, Monash Sustainable Development Institute & Chair, ClimateWorks Australia
  • Keith Tuffley Managing Director, Vice-Chair & Global Co-Head of Sustainability & Corporate Transitions, Citi Australia
  • Patricia Turner CEO, NACCHO
  • Mary Vallentine CEO Melbourne Recital Centre
  • Toby Walsh Professor, Artificial Intelligence UNSW
  • Sue Wareham President, Medical Association for Prevention of War
  • Ian Watt Chair, International Centre for Democratic Partnerships, Former Secretary Departments of Finance and Defence and Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Jay Weatherill Former Premier South Australia, CEO Thrive by Five
  • John White Chairman Regenerative Australian Farmers Pty Ltd
  • Nick Whitlam Businessman, Director Generations Fund
  • Rod Wiese Managing Director & Principal Engineer of Storm Consulting
  • John Williams Crawford School, ANU
  • Robyn Williams Science journalist and broadcaster
  • David Williamson Playwright
  • VarSha Yajman School coordinator NSW, Australian Climate Coalition, School Strike Leader
  • Talal Yassine MD Crescent Wealth
  • Christopher Zinn Consultant, Consumer Engagement and Media Strategies
  • and 2,366 other concerned Australians


Do you agree that we must act to ensure that humanity survives and thrives?

We invite you to add your own name to the letter. You can do so through the form below.

Varsha Yajman (School coordinator NSW, Australian Climate Coalition; School Strike Leader)

I personally signed the form because I support the Commission’s initiative and believe that in a world where we are being constantly struck by crisis it is important to recognise the intersectional nature of these crises. For instance, climate change and health are interlinked in several ways as well as the use of nuclear warfare and climate change and health. I don’t think we should ever go back to normal because “normal” has no recognition of Indigenous rights, “normal” oppressed minorities and does not have the basic human rights that is necessary for a sustainable and just society.

Peter Garrett (Former Environment Minister, lead singer Midnight Oil)

Facts, not convenient fictions, should guide our actions. And the fact is that the multiple risks identified by the Commission for the Human Future sees humanity balanced precariously on a precipice from which a fall would be fatal. That’s why I signed this letter. It is glaringly obvious we need deep systems change now. 

Helen Caldicott (Founding President, Physicians for Social Responsibility; 1985 Nobel Peace Prize)

Life on earth is in the intensive care unit and, according to the International Energy Agency, we have only six months to reverse this global warming catastrophe. Hence politicians and fossil fuel corporations are, in effect, physicians to a dying planet - save it or lose it!

Ken Henry (Former Secretary Treasury)

Several catastrophic events this year should have given all of us pause for thought. Most of us have surely found ourselves wondering how different things might have been had we taken more interest in what we have been doing to this planet; had our politics been guided by evidence and reason, not prejudice, class warfare and ideology. Now is a good time to be saying ‘enough is enough’.

Di Morrissey (Author; newspaper publisher)

Tragic as the coronavirus is, it is giving us an opportunity to reset the clock. We cannot go back to the way economic, environmental, emotional and philosophical changes that affect us all. So we must listen to sense and science and grasp this opportunity to remake our lives and our world. Learn from our mistakes. We can make changes for the better, for generations into the future. This is a rare gift, we must not waste it with greed, politics and pettiness.

John Bell (Actor)

The current pandemic has brought even more sharply into focus challenges facing the 21st century. Among these are the perils of climate change and the subsequent insecurity of food and resources. The elimination of world-wide poverty and universal access to education are key to tackling these issues. We must confront them with imagination, courage, empathy and generosity. All of these are within us.

Keith Tuffley (Managing Director, Vice-Chair & Global Co-Head of Sustainability & Corporate Transitions, Citi Australia)

The Anthropocene, this new age in which we all live, provides humanity with some stark choices. We either plan for and invest in a future we all want – one that is sustainable, more prosperous and resilient, and fairer for all – or we wander aimlessly into ongoing destruction of our home, planet Earth. We are the crossroads, and the Commission will enable us to make better informed decisions about our common future, based on scientific evidence.

Fiona Stanley (Distinguished Research Professor, University of Western Australia; Telethon Kids Institute)

[This pandemic has] forced us to look globally, to act on the science rapidly and bring in a welfare agenda to prevent people and businesses going into poverty. If we continue these characteristics of responding to science, implementing social and sustainable policies for people and the planet, it could revolutionise our futures. Those in power need to realise that the causes of most of the world’s wicked problems have arisen from national obsession with financial bottom lines, wealth creation and neglect of those social, environmental, educational parameters which we need to manage a complex world successfully. A wellbeing budget will win over a strict monetary one every time.


Clover Moore (Lord Mayor of Sydney)

I am pleased to support Dr John Hewson AM and the Commission for the Human Future by signing on to today’s Letter to All Australians. The work of the Commission for the Human Future aligns with the work we are undertaking here at the City of Sydney to build our own resilience and that of all 33 councils across metropolitan Sydney. Since launching our Resilient Sydney strategy in 2018, we have faced every single one of the acute shocks this strategy prepared for, which underpins just how important it is that governments develop concrete plans for addressing climate change, tackling rising inequality, and surviving and thriving in the future.


About us

The Commission for the Human Future is a body of researchers and concerned citizens dedicated to finding and developing solutions to one of the greatest challenges in human history - the combination of catastrophic global threats that now confront humanity.