John Thackara

If we shift our focus from ‘consumption’ to ‘regeneration,’ we can thrive in a no-growth economic setting.

Environmentalist, Designer and Innovation Expert

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John Thackara | Environmentalist, Designer and Innovation Expert

The regenerative economy is not a future dream—it already exists. Social innovation is all around us in a million grassroots projects. John Thackara, founder of Doors of Perception, talks from personal experience about practical actions that people are taking now, often at the edge of our known worlds. He uses these stories to start conversations: What small steps might you take, right now? How? And with whom? 

John Thackara does big-picture keynote talks for a wide variety of public and private sector organisations. He also chairs events, and people enjoy his interviews with speakers and panels. Thackara explains: “My job is not just to talk—it is to challenge your assumptions, and start conversations. The aim of these conversations is to open up opportunities for innovation.”

For thirty years Thackara has traveled the world in his search of stories about the practical steps taken by communities to realize a sustainable future. He writes about these stories online, and in books; he uses them in talks for cities, and business; he also organizes festivals and events that bring the subjects of these stories together.

Thackara is the author of a widely-read blog at and of the best-selling In the Bubble: Designing in A Complex World (MIT Press)—also translated into nine languages. His new book is How to Thrive in the Next Economy: Designing Tomorrows World Today, a visionary yet practical guide to building a more sustainable future. As director of, John organizes conferences and festivals in which social innovators share knowledge. He has lectured in more than forty countries. 


“An inspiring presentation for our executive workshop.”


“A global expert on innovation and the green economy.”

McKinsey Quarterly

“You lifted the conference and discussion to a high level.”

Oslo Architecture Triennale

“Our high-level guests greatly appreciated John’s challenging talk.”


“Your lecture created an enormous buzz.”

Vision2020 Leicester

Speech Topics

Social Entrepreneurship
Creativity and Social Innovation

Everyone is talking about creativity and innovation—but what are they for? In this age of energy and economic transition, social innovation creates local living economies from the ground up. It also enables us to share resources—such as energy, things, time, skill, software, space, or food. New values, as well as new models and platforms, are a condition for success. 

Design in the Light of Dark Energy

Resource efficiency is not a lifestyle choice. We’ve splurged on energy for 200 years because we could. The growth-at-all-costs economy grew because it could. We drove two ton trucks to collect a pizza because we could. Now that we can’t, the nature of our playing field is changing.

Public Health
Five Per Cent Health

Peak oil, and peak fat, are transforming the logic that currently shapes the global biomedical system. Until the medical system addresses the causes of illness with the same brilliance with which it addresses the effects, the population will continue to get sicker. 

Growing the Bio City
Cities are in transition as cheap energy, and capital, become scarce. In the emerging biocity, people use natural resources to adapt and renovate structures, heat and cool buildings, move and treat water, or grow and supply food. From ‘Paris as a Sponge’ to Twitter-enabled markets, John Thackara describes the new solutions, and novel collaborative models, that are transforming the city as we know it.