An uplifting new book by Planetari founder Cindy Forde turns familiar climate change narratives on their head, describing a potential future built on innovation and reinvention

For young people, climate change is a tough subject. We adults present a set of challenges, not of their making, and focus on what seem like insurmountable problems. Too often this comes across as a vision of doom, of time running out. Little wonder then that some children become depressed, angry, even nihilistic when they think about their future and the world they will inherit.

Bright New World, a new book by Cindy Forde aimed at the 8+ age group turns this narrative firmly on its head. With a big format, bold colours and wonderful illustrations by Bethany Lord, it offers a set of inspiring real stories and ideas for fixing problems and creating a better environment. Hope was what inspired Cindy Forde to write the book because she believes a lot of environmental information offers only downbeat messages and design. “Children subliminally get the message that this is a difficult subject, a sad subject – even a dreary subject,” she says.

“The world is bright and beautiful. Children love nature and there’s probably nothing more beautiful than the show from this natural show,” adds Forde. “We really wanted to have that in the book, so that instead of environment being associated with everything that’s gone wrong and these very depressing images, the images inspire you both with the beauty of nature and with the fabulous creativity of humanity.”

She is critical of the trend to talk about a future full of hair-shirt denial – believing the story should be one of evolution. “There’s huge abundance on earth, still. Earth is capable of sustaining large populations of humans and other creatures, it’s just that we need to shift our distribution, if you like, and design things in the same way that natural systems are designed.” She points to the “brilliant innovators” across science and other disciplines, already designing solutions. “The whole feeling now is that there’s this opportunity to transform – crisis brings danger and opportunity.”

Bright New World is big format in size and scope, and also rich in detail. It covers a lot of ground on environmental issues – from food choice challenges and circular economy principles to the future of travel and rainforest and ocean regeneration. This is not pie-in-the-sky idealism, but supported by facts, figures and information, all underpinned by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). There are plenty of environmental heroes here, with cases to demonstrate that change for the good is happening. “We need to give young people the sense that there are relatively simple things that they can do. I don’t want to put the onus on the individual because to really change this trajectory we need systemic change, but systems are guided by the individuals who live within them,” says Forde.

Forde comes from a science and environmental communications background, describing her overarching role as that of storyteller. She was previously CEO of Cambridge Science Centre and, before that, Managing Director of oceans charity Blue Marine Foundation. More recently, she has founded Planetari, an organisation focused on worldwide environmental education. This has Amber Nuttall and Jonathan Porritt CBE among its team of advisors – Porritt also wrote the foreword to Bright New World

The book is both inspiring and informative, offering a clear roadmap to the future. It’s also part of a wider mission. Cindy Forde would like to see environmental education delivered more systemically – and positively – using UN SDGs as the bedrock, and Planetari is setting out to do just that. Bright New World is also part of this mission and she is designing additional material that she hopes will give educators extra resources that, alongside the book, will support lessons across the syllabus. As she says: “It comes from this place of not being afraid to look at the truth but to see that there is a much more positive way forward if we believe we can take it”.

Bright New World Cover
Cindy Forde’s Bright New World is published by Welbeck

Bright New World is by Cindy Forde (Welbeck Publishing, £18.99). To find out more about Planetari, visit

Further reading: Habs Girls Head Rose Hardy on the rise of climate anxiety