What does the future of Climate Action look like now? It’s a deliberate question. We are, after all, our future selves: what gets seeded now unfolds in the future. To change it, we have to imagine it differently, in order to turn it into reality.
The World Economic Forum Global Risk Report 2020, published in mid-January, identified the top 5 risks by likelihood over the next 10 years, as all being climate related: weather patterns, natural disasters, biodiversity and ecosystem collapse…the list goes on. Essentially, it identifies that our lack of rapid and urgent action now to mitigate these risks, continues to undermine the systems which preserve our health.
Exploring risks based on what is happening now, is a useful warning mechanism. As Sarah Smith, from the Institute for the Future says, “forecasts are provocations, not predictions.”
Which means, that we have the opportunity to imagine, explore and design our response and a future which addresses these risks.
The pandemic has ignited the need for that response even more urgently.
Remission from emissions
With humans in lockdown, nature started to flourish once again. The building blocks of our health, wellbeing and survival expanded into its rightful place. We all noticed crystal clear skies, vividly blue without plane contrails and smog creating the haze. The white noise of engines ceased and we could hear without sound pollution the dawn chorus of birds.
And we loved it. From lions sunbathing on roads, goats wandering through a town centre and a wolf meandering through a village in broad daylight: we watched with wonder, humour and connection.
As lockdown eases, the engine noise is back like tinnitus and the haze starts to return.
Which is causing huge anxiety, because we don’t want this normal back again. And that, is the trigger for different choices.
What they told us could never change, was impossible to do something about, did in fact do exactly that. We’ve seen Nature restore itself with our own eyes, lived it, breathed cleaner air. Carpe Diem. Surely, now, there is no going back?
A snapshot of the blue and the green
We have a snapshot from now, these last weeks, of what the future will look like if we act for blue and green economies to preserve food and water systems, in sync with biodiversity.
A space rich with opportunities for entrepreneurs given that, “An entrepreneur is an individual who identifies opportunities in the marketplace, allocates resources, and creates value.”
How then, are you responding to the marketplace in front of you, radically re-shaped by the pandemic and aligned with taking climate action?
The entrepreneur’s journey is precarious at the best of times. Working as a sole-trader or as a micro-business has rocked most of us to the core, across the globe. What are the products for customers now?
From my own space, I see that there’s an immediate, sustained rise in co-working spaces rather than offices to facilitate more efficient working remotely and to create individual business cost-savings on over-inflated city-centre property spaces; I see families spending time together; a new appreciation for the role of educators in children’s lives; balconies and gardens full of seedlings as the love of growing things re-emerges; and reading…finally, after years of asset-stripping libraries out of our lives, we have woken up to their central role in our communities, our lives, our entertainment. Beyond tech, we have a reawakened need for human connection with each other and outside spaces.
There’s hope in imagination
With an estimated 1.2bn children out of school globally, access to education and educating online were thrown into the spotlight. Perhaps more so, the scale and impact of the digital divide for children and youth, started to be seen and felt. It’s not just about access to the kit, it’s the cost of access and the lack of infrastructure.
It was an opportunity for listening to youth voices about the future they want now, so I put together a free, online innovation challenge in partnership with the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Forum and GSMA, running through from April to June at www.cbwn.org . We invited innovative ideas about how a mobile phone could be a school, used offline and powered in different ways, to give access to all education for all children.
There is such hope and fairness and humour in their futures-thinking. The world they imagine, is inclusive for all; and they are the new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.
You are your future self, so what do you imagine now about how you want it to be? Ask your kids. What does that future mean to them? Be provoked into envisioning a new business, a new future that resonates, support and creates the blue and green economies we need to mitigate the risks in front of us, so that we unfold a different reality. Imagine that future now.