My family has always loved outdoor activities. In my childhood, we spent the summers on the southern coast of Norway – crab fishing and swimming all day long. Today, our children have adopted the same favourite holiday activities. As a family, we experience genuine pleasure, new energy and quality time together when we go cross country skiing near our winter cabin, or go for walks in the autumn forest, picking berries or mushrooms. I can’t imagine a life without access to these rich resources that nature offers us.
I believe, deep down, this is the main source of my longstanding engagement in environmental issues. Over the years, the need to learn more about the complexity of these issues has increased. That is why I value highly opportunities like this – when I have the chance to meet with a distinguished group of professionals and scientists for knowledge based discussions. I am particularly glad to see Professor Jørgen Randers here with us today. He runs a very interesting course I am currently attending at BI Norwegian Business School – called “Green growth”. Thanks to this course, I am these days passionately preoccupied with the challenge related to the overload of packaging that surrounds us in everyday life.
Working with young people is a key entry point when addressing environmental issues – I have been fortunate enough to work with the Global Shapers Community. The community, which is established by World Economic Forum, consists of 364 hubs of young people under the age of 30, located in cities in all parts of the world.
Motivated young people are making an impressive effort to address climate change on the ground and push their governments to do more. It is crucial to share information and experience about projects, programs and campaigns, so that others can learn from them and replicate the ones that work.
Last summer, I was part of the jury for a competition called ClimateSHAPE, where Global Shapers hubs all over the world were challenged to create the best environmental project. I was amazed to see all the brilliant ideas that came to life in this process. The winning project was called Kabadiwalla Connect, created by the Global Shapers Hub in Chennai, India. The idea was simple, but genius: They found a way to connect garbage collectors and dealers – of whom there are thousands in Chennai – with businesses and designers who recycle the garbage and create new products. They developed an app to make the connection easy for all parties involved in the process.
I know that Mr Adeyemi Babington-Ashaye, Director of Global Shapers who will speak later, will tell you more about the Shapers’ efforts – but I must say I am impressed by and proud to work with these young people who have realized that there is no alternative to a green shift for a sustainable future. The climate is in desperate need for smart solutions. Corporates must give space to young, innovative people in business, technology and finance – because they represent a green way of thinking that corporates can’t afford to miss.
I believe we have two main challenges in the climate debate that I would like to emphasize:
Firstly: We often fail to connect the dots when we discuss green issues. We fail to see the interconnectedness between climate change, poverty, food security and health. We need to acknowledge that almost any other global issue is somehow related to the need to protect our globe.
Secondly: We have a communications problem. We do understand what and why – but we struggle to understand how. We have an enormous amount of scientific reports and facts about climate challenges. But to a large extent we end up making people feel powerless, wanting to ignore the facts. I believe we need a whole new narrative on green issues:
We need to emphasize green choices people can make in their everyday life, and make it feel rewarding – and fun – for everyone to participate. We need to make this effort meaningful in people’s lives. We need to bring back the memories of the world we want and need to sustain. We need to remember the nature experience each and every one of us treasure in the places where we live – be it sailing on the Ngong river in Kenya, harvesting in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam – or fishing crabs on the southern coast of Norway in the long summer nights.
Only then can we engage both heart and mind in our global efforts to save the planet.