Alex Steffen

The solution to climate change and resource scarcity starts with better urban design.

Author of Carbon Zero: Imagining Cities That Can Save the Planet

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Alex Steffen | Author of Carbon Zero: Imagining Cities That Can Save the Planet
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Alex Steffen is the thinking-person’s optimist. His inspiring, provocative talks about our future pack houses around the world. Whether explaining humanity’s best solutions (in Worldchanging), imagining the opportunities to be found in climate-neutral cities (in Carbon Zero), or sharing breakthrough insights into the powerful forces now driving worldwide change (in the forthcoming Planetary), Steffen “lays out the blueprint for a successful century” (The New York Times). 

Worldchanging 2.0 might well be the most complete, compelling articulation of the possible look and feel and actual operation of a sustainable society ever written.”

— Denis Hayes, Earth Day founder

Steffen has a rare ability to connect planetary thinking to our most practical concerns, and his lively, engaging talks have wowed hundreds of audiences with their combination of practical sense, visionary insight and humor. From the stage of the TED Conference to boardrooms of leading corporations to lecture halls in some of the world’s most prestigious universities, Steffen has shown a remarkable talent for helping audiences understand the role of world-changing ideas and trends in their own lives and work.


From 2003-2010, Steffen built his track record as a visionary by leading the pioneering website Under his guidance, the solutions-based magazine became the second-largest sustainability site on the planet. Its 12,000 articles won many of the web’s highest honors, including being a 2008 Webby Official Honoree and a winner of the Utne Independent Press Award.


“Alex Steffen explores our planet’s future, telling powerful, inspiring stories about the hard choices facing humanity … and our opportunity to create a much better tomorrow.”


Steffen’s first Worldchanging book was an international best-seller; Al Gore remarks in his introduction to the book, “Taken together, these solutions present a picture of a future that is not dark or catastrophic, but one that is full of hope and within our grasp.” Steffen’s Worldchanging 2.0, a monumental anthology focusing on cities and urban issues, garnered further critical acclaim. His latest book, Carbon Zero, has been hailed as “a breakthrough,” a “deep and inspiring manual for imagining how our cities can become the solution to our climate woes” and a vision of how to “survive and even thrive in the face of a planetary challenge that political leaders ... have been reluctant to face.”


“Want to know what greens will be talking about in a few years? Follow Alex Steffen. He’s talking about it today.”

— David Roberts,

Steffen has been named to numerous lists of leading innovators and has served as an adviser to more than 100 NGOs and businesses, exploring “bright green” strategies to help them thrive in a complex and turbulent future. He is currently Planetary Futurist in Residence at IDEO. “The really shocking truth for most of us isn't how bad things are,” says Alex Steffen, “it's how good things can get.” Now, he’s turned to Kickstarter to help launch The Heroic Future—a three-part, live documentary series about reimagining the world of tomorrow, in order to rebuild the world today.   

Speech Topics

Carbon Zero Imagining Cities That Can Save the Planet

Cities are the answer to climate change, energy challenges and resource scarcity. How we grow our cities, how we choose to get around in them, how we provide housing, how well we incorporate nature into the places we live—these are the challenges that will largely determine our future, and the future of the planet. Steffen tackles the latest successful urban innovations and looks at how quality of life is actually improved in the process of retrofitting our cities for the seemingly impossible, yet surprisingly practical, goal of carbon neutrality.

Social Change
How to Think Like a Worldchanger

In these optimistic and customizable talks, Steffen shows us the worldchanging solutions and people who are meeting the planet’s most pressing problems in innovative and creative ways—and how we can all learn from their examples to think about our own futures. By understanding the outlook these pioneers, inventors and change leaders bring to the problems they face, we can all learn to think like worldchangers, and find new solutions to the problems around us in our own lives and workplaces. An extremely popular keynote for business and professional conferences and universities.

Bright Green Strategies for Thriving in Tough Times

There’s a new green in town: one that shows that aggressively pursuing sustainability can actually deliver big competitive advantages, especially when times are tough. Many of the regions leading the global race for sustainable prosperity—from the City of Vancouver to the nation of Denmark—have formally adopted Steffen’s “bright green” thinking. In this talk, Steffen showcases this new approach to saving the planet by seeking out competitive opportunities to address the scope, scale, and speed of the changes we’re called to make. Big changes, Steffen says, can mean big success for companies and cities. Regular people will find it inspiring. Business leaders will find it revealing and actionable. With authority, ingenuity, and hope, Steffen, in this talk, hits the epicenter of the next big trend: a bright (prosperous) and green (sustainable) future.

The Future for Beginners
Having foresight and being able to think clearly about new trends and patterns aren’t skills reserved just for those who call themselves “futurists.” Many of the tools futurists use can be used in our own lives and businesses to help us understand the changes around us and make better decisions, today. In this light-hearted talk, Steffen offers a few simple, memorable guidelines to help audiences begin to look into the future themselves.