I went to a sustainability symposium today, and much of what the speakers said really resonated with me.
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. A spot on definition, in my opinion!
Common themes that more or less every speaker touched upon:
- The world is in a pretty grim state at the moment; from alarming news about Greenland recently, the threat of a food crisis, the Eurozone crisis, graduate unemployment, banking scandals and, of course, climate change.
- One of the greatest challenges we will have to face is that it is likely that 9 billion people will be living on our planet by 2050
- We need radical thinking to address the issues we are facing – the ‘business as usual’ model is failing
- The comfortable lifestyle that we enjoy in the West is unsustainable
- The difficulty of persuading businesses to take sustainability seriously, and to incorporate it into their vision & strategy
Slightly contentious points:
- The economic crisis won’t be solved until we stop relying on fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy
- The symposium got personal at one point – the panel was asked what personal actions they took to minimise their environmental impact. One member of the panel raised his Klean Kanteen (<3). The spokesperson for Friends of the Earth stated that he personally only boycotted products/companies when backed by a campaign, in order for there to be an impact (I personally disagree – I would rather not spend my money on a product from an ethically dubious company full stop).
- There was a bit of BP bashing – apparently they aren’t taking their own re-branding (‘Beyond Petroleum’) seriously, and are recklessly pursuing fossil fuels instead of renewable energy, surprise, surprise.
- ‘Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference’ – Joel Barker
- ‘When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world’ – Paul Hawken
I’m hoping to have a career in the sustainability sector. For me, tackling climate change is more than something I’d like to do for a job; it’s a personal issue. Through inaction, we have so, so much to lose.