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Working the Future blog: our latest insights and future of work sensemaking

Sept. '23: Our sustainability diary - setting the scene

2023-10-31 10:29

Cathryn Barnard

Sustainability, FUTURE OF WORK, SUSTAINABILITY, BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION, CLIMATE CRISIS, CSR,

Sept. '23: Our sustainability diary - setting the scene

I don’t know the trigger of my climate anxiety, but I do know that at least for the past thirty years, we’ve lived through an age of mass consumption...

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Im not sure when I first became aware of sustainability and the impact of human behaviour on our planet and climate. But I know Ive been diligently recycling since the mid-1990s.

I dont know the trigger of my climate anxiety, but I do know that at least for the past thirty years, weve lived through an age of mass consumption. In the global North, cheap credit has hooked us on mindless consumerism.

In the late noughties, someone introduced me to the work of Rob Hopkins and the Transition Towns movement. Having studied and taught permaculture in Ireland in the 1990s and early 2000s, Rob became aware of and concerned by the twin issues of peak oil and climate change. In 2005, he set up the first Transition Town in Totnes. It was his attempt to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and embed sustainability into the local area so that it would remain resilient in a post-carbon world. Today there are Transition Towns across the world. 

Fast-forward fifteen years and not only have climate scientists been proven right in their hypotheses about a warming planet, but the climate is warming far faster than had been previously anticipated. Worse, weve already breached five out of nine planetary boundaries set out by scientists as deleterious or even catastrophic if crossed.

Its clear we cant act fast enough to reduce carbon emissions across all aspects of our lives.

While running a business in 2023 has never been trickier, its also true that business leaders have the unique opportunity to step up and make a difference. We, more than anyone else, have the gift of being able to choose, and design, what kind of world we want to pass on to the next generation.

My dear friend Melissa is a descendant of the Shivwits band of Paiutes who currently resides in Oregon, USA. In a recent exchange, she shared with me that Indigenous people think eight generations ahead. They see themselves as custodians of the earth and as such embed thought and care into all their interactions with the land they live on. We have much to learn from them.

This mini-blog is first in a series where we will diarise what were doing at Working the Future to create a better world for future generations. We may be a small organisation, but we have agency. And when we have agency, theres no limit to what we can achieve. 

We hope you find this diary useful and inspiring.

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