The world at the beginning of the 21st century is deeply contradictory. There is among many an increasing disaffection with the state of humanity and a growing concern about the unprecedented damage being done to Planet Earth. At the same time, there are numerous examples, at different levels of society, of actions for positive change. In order to analyse the present situation and what we may be facing in the future, and to propose bold and innovative alternatives to the predominant development trajectory, the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation has, over the past few years, devoted considerable attention and energy to the What Next project. This issue of Development Dialogue introduces the project with reflections on thirty years of development debate, UN summits and international politics, discussions on global challenges and responsible lifestyles, prerequisites for alternatives, and the role of civil society.