Sustainability professional feeling the weight of the world? You’re not alone! EOG’s Katy Stevens shares how we can beat despair – and dare to act in hope.
There’s a simple reason why most people working with sustainability choose to do so. Not riches or fame, but usually because we care. We care about nature, and we care about people. We feel deeply connected to our natural environment, its wildness and beauty, and we want to protect that at all costs. Or because we can empathize with those working in our supply chains and want them to flourish and live healthy, enjoyable lives.
At times the work is frustrating, and some- times desperate. We know what needs to be done, we spend our days busily working on projects that show some real tangible impact, and then WHAM… We read about the reduction of renewable energy incentives, or increased fossil fuel subsidies, or that child labor is on the rise; developments that go against everything we are trying to achieve, usually driven by greed and arrogance. The very personality traits that first drew us into this line of work can then make us especially sensitive to the harsh realities.
I know I’m not alone, and the rollercoaster of emotions is both real and raw. Then, last month, at the European Outdoor Summit, I felt a glimmer of hope when I saw the reaction of the attendees to the idea of degrowth. Of course, this is a difficult concept to sell to business leaders, but they were genuinely excited about where this conversation could go next.
Then my hope peaked listening to Simon Anholt talk about how we need a plan for the whole world to agree on a new set of values and skills that every country can teach its children, to raise a new generation that makes the world work. As Simon put it, “If we only have the patience to work for one generation on building the behaviors and knowledge that underpin the solutions to these gigantic problems, we can defeat them all.”
I’m still on the hope-high, and as I try to figure out next steps, I’m closing the newspapers and going outside to walk, to think, and to hope.
Lead Photo: hillie-chan/Unsplash