My New Year Commitment to a More Sustainable World

I know I am not alone in frequently becoming completely overwhelmed by the scale of the climate challenge facing the world. With the level of pessimism and negative stories in the news (by some counts, up to 98% of environmental news stories are negative in nature), it’s no wonder that many of us reflexively reach for the off button.

The only time I find myself talking with my normal passion and exuberance about sustainability, is when I hear a story about a person or organisation bringing their innovation and creativity to addressing the challenges of that blueprint for humanity’s future, The Sustainable Development Goals.

Business has a key role to play in addressing the sustainability challenge. With my business background, I am particularly excited when a business brings their innovation skills and creativity into play, to address the SDG’s. Stories that have inspired me include Unilever’s innovative programme which gave tens of millions of people improved access to a toilet, Patagonia’s Worn Wear programme, which addresses the fact that 85% of clothing ends up in landfill by encouraging “buying less, repairing more and trading in gear when you no longer need it” and the Swiss company Climeworks, which pioneers carbon dioxide air capture technology. A New York Times article about Climeworks carried the headline “The Tiny Swiss Company That Thinks It Can Help Stop Climate Change”. That’s exactly my sort of company, and it’s the sort of innovation I want to feature in this weekly blog.

A recent summit hosted by Planet Forward, a project of the George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA), addressed the question of what the best way is to increase public awareness, civic engagement, and empathy around sustainability and the climate crisis.  The answer they came up with was clear: We have to tell stories better. The evidence is there to prove that stories have the power to transform complex subject matters into something that feels personal, local, relatable and solvable.

I am committing for 2023 to telling a short story every week about an organisation, company or brand that is innovating to make our world more sustainable. Perhaps I am doing it to inspire you, my readers. Perhaps I am doing it to keep myself hopeful that we can address this major challenge that we as part of humanity are facing.