We spark unexpected connections and reimagine the future to allow pathways towards societal change to emerge. Our aim is to collectively create change in deeper value systems and facilitate social innovations that rebalance and regenerate our planet.




Our vision

Our vision is a world with diverse and equitable societies that value and actively regenerate nature.

What we believe

The first step in shifting underlying narratives and mindsets is to reframe existing issues. Our process is co-creative, bringing together people from diverse perspectives to imagine different possible futures. This creates space in which bold ideas can emerge about new pathways for nature and people to thrive together.
The opportunity
But change is possible. We have seen it happen. We know enough to act. By partnering with socio-environmental innovators and connecting people from different backgrounds in unexpected ways, we can find pathways to overcoming these barriers – cultivating knowledge that matters and that positions innovation differently in the service of sparking social change. We are continuously inspired by visionary people who are committed to a regenerative future for all.
The challenge
Collectively, social and environmental innovators and investors face numerous barriers.
Dominant economic, political and social systems continue to contribute to social inequities and the loss of nature. Although without the substantial efforts, knowledge and groundwork of environmental and nature conservation movements and actors, the world would be far worse off, things still need to be different. Everyone must evolve, ourselves included, as we understand these challenges better. Historically, nature conservation has often been siloed from other sectors, acting as an echo chamber with difficulty integrating diverse values and forms of knowledge. Pathways to long-term transformative change therefore remain unclear and contested.
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Our theory of change

Co-creation with diverse people and organisations from around the world is fundamental to our theory of change. We do not operate in a bubble; rather, together with many diverse groups, we facilitate connections and create spaces for different innovators and actors around the world to surface and grow their ideas.
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Our approach

How can we protect biodiversity, stop catastrophic climate change, balance the needs of nature and people, and shape a regenerative future? Innovators in the conservation sector often lack the support necessary to launch effective, high-impact ideas to regenerate nature and communities. 

Unearthodox by name, unorthodox by nature. We use systems thinking; diversity, equity and inclusion practices (co-creation); and futures thinking to inspire progressive and sometimes radical new concepts. 

Our unique way of working supports innovators and philanthropists in developing transformative ideas. We combine the principles of systems thinking with those of futures thinking and extensive co-creation throughout the stages of our value chain: a process of ideation, incubation and acceleration.

Systems thinking acknowledges that relevant factors are all part of interlinked systems. Futures thinking explores alternative futures while acknowledging uncertainty. By applying methods from both systems and futures thinking, we can better understand the root causes of long-standing conservation problems, and identify solutions that change the way societies see themselves and their connection with nature.
Diversity, equity and inclusion
Diversity, equity and inclusion are baked into everything we do at Unearthodox through co-creation. Co-creation is a process in which we bring together people with diverse and unorthodox experiences, knowledge systems and world views to surface knowledge and take action collectively.

We recognise that innovation is not yet a level playing field, but we believe it can be. We strive to integrate changes that challenge our own field to do better and be more equitable. We know that change is hard, but we are focused on creating the trust needed to make it happen.

Bringing together different voices – particularly those of stakeholder communities – allows us to reframe dominant ways of thinking. The process only works with inquisitiveness, trust and mutual respect as a foundation. It must be slow and iterative, with plenty of time to listen and think. 

Well-designed co-creation opens dialogues, strengthens transparency and builds networks. The results are a sense of shared ownership and buy-in, and a network of collaborators who are more likely to act on their findings.
Systems thinking

Systems thinking is a way of seeing the world as fundamentally connected and interdependent, with unanticipated outcomes and linkages. Understanding the world as a set of interconnected systems allows us to spark change by examining and reimagining existing rules for how these systems work. The process begins by looking beyond an immediate fix to a longer-term transformation – from the way systems work today to the way we hope they could work in the future. 

In line with our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion, systems thinking is a process of co-learning that engages diverse actors from different perspectives within the system, who all need to be included in any outcome. This transformative process inevitably involves uncertainties and unexpected twists and turns. One of the fundamental practices of systems thinking is self-reflection – recognising that we are a part of any change, and being humble enough to realise that we ourselves must constantly change as well.

Systems thinking creates space for new perspectives to emerge and helps us grapple with inevitable trade-offs. At Unearthodox, systems thinking forms an underpinning pillar of our approach to innovation, alongside co-creation and futures thinking. We integrate systems thinking into our innovation life cycle of ideation, incubation and acceleration and constantly widen our networks and viewpoints through co-creative convenings. 


The Art of Systems Change (2019) is the first book in a series, laying out a vision for creating systems change in an increasingly turbulent world. Written by a group of conservation practitioners including Melanie Ryan, Unearthodox’s Director, the book kickstarted a critical discussion about how to create transformational change. 

The Craft of Systems Change (2022) is the second book in the series and builds on the original concepts, introducing a guiding framework called the ‘Systems Journey’. Also co-authored by Melanie Ryan and edited by Senior Editorial and Content Manager, Megan Eaves, the book presents practical tools and tips, and a process for changing the systems in which we live and work. 

Download both books for free
Futures thinking

Futures thinking is a process for considering potential futures by exploring current trends and evaluating what scenarios are possible, probable and preferable. At Unearthodox, we are guided by a suite of futures thinking practices, including the Three Horizons Approach.

The Three Horizons Approach

The Three Horizons Approach was co-created by Bill Sharpe, an expert in futures techniques working with the International Futures Forum. It offers a simple but potentially effective way of examining current, dominant systems and their challenges (Horizon 1), a desired future state (Horizon 3) and innovations that can help achieve the future vision (Horizon 2). 

The Three Horizons helps us examine urgent, complex challenges to nature conservation, and is used in many other fields such as energy policy, health care, rural development and financial services.

Watch the 3 Horizons Video
Futures thinking in action

‘Strengthening futures capacity in Africa’
This report utilises futures thinking to explore different methods for imagining the many possible futures for Africa, and identifying the actions required to reach those futures. 

‘Imagining transformative biodiversity futures’
This commentary published in Nature Sustainability offers three evocative scenarios of what the future of life on Earth might look like, aiming to spark conversations about the choices society makes for humanity and nature.

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