The DIF's content is shaped around topics. Each year we select three of these topics to be the key threads that run through the Festival and which our headline acts focus on.

Circular Economy 101

Get to grips with the basics of a circular economy. Looking beyond our current "take-make-dispose" linear economy which is extractive and wasteful, a circular economy; designs out waste, keeps products and materials in use and regenerates natural systems.

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Cities in Transition

Described as smart, resilient, regenerative, even generous; cities are a focal point for so many of the discussions about economic prosperity, human health, and environmental impact in the 21st century. They’ve become increasingly critical as political decision making bodies representing the world’s most intense concentrations of resources, energy and information.

Much more than just bricks and mortar, cities are also central to much of the world’s cutting-edge innovation, acting as hubs for designing and testing out new business models and technology at scale. What will it take to make tomorrow’s cities everything that we promise they’ll be today? And who, or even where, will lead that change?

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Future of Food

Industrialised food production has been large scale and centralised for well over 100 years now, but there are increasingly worrying signs that this can’t last forever. Soil quality degradation, fossil fuel dependence and high losses are becoming far too common. It’s time for a different approach.

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Materials & Design

Often, 'good design' is defined by the performance or functionality of a product or service, the ergonomics, and the aesthetics. Yet most of the materials we use, we lose, the things we make are consistently under-utilised.

However, a new mindset is emerging; one where we design our products in a way that asks 'what next'? The goods of today should be the resources of tomorrow. This shift in thinking is worth around a trillion dollars and will drive innovation in tomorrow's companies, and reshape every part of our lives.

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People in the Economy

Nightly news bulletins often tell us how the economy is performing using an array of acronyms and percentages that have, let’s face it, little meaning in our day-to-day lives. We are sold the story that economic growth is good for us all, “A rising tide lifts all boats”, and all the other cliches. However, critics of how we measure economic success are not hard to find. They argue that the way we currently determine ‘success’ has many blind spots and can leave a lot of people behind.

As the economy continues to evolve, how can we ensure that people get access to the goods and services, materials and components they need to help them live and prosper? What type of economy do we want to live in?

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Reimagining Learning

If we accept that human and natural systems tend to be interconnected, complex and dynamic, then educational programs made up of disparate parts can no longer be the norm. This surely has implications for how we teach and learn.

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Reinventing Business

The 21st century economy is already shifting away from a ‘bottom line’ approach to measuring success. Simultaneously, computational power, digitisation and the mobile internet are opening up endless new opportunities. How are businesses evolving to keep up with and take advantage of this shift?

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Thinking in Systems

We used to think that most systems - human or natural - were simple, predictable and controllable. We now know that this is not the case - most are actually interdependent, complex and dynamic. What are the implications of thinking in this new way for business, design and the wider economy?

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