LEADERSHIP LESSONS: ONE SUSTAINABILITY EXPERT’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
An online gathering our PLANET team co-facilitated last month as part of The Great Reset by Purpose Disruptors, saw sustainability expert Ali Sheridan present on the sustainability story today for business and what that means for sustainability leadership. Last week, we outlined our takeouts on the sustainability story. Below, you’ll find the follow-on ‘Leadership Lessons for Success’:
- Realise Your Potential Impact: We can all be ‘enablers’ to bring changes into the mainstream. Equally, we can adopt the role of ‘defenders’ and challenge business as usual. Give yourself permission.
- Leverage Our Strengths for Better: Our industry can do powerful work in helping move away from ‘stock sustainability’ and push the creative beyond lightbulbs and trees to help people imagine living and thriving in more sustainable futures. Equally, challenge the words that we use for impact - even ‘sustainability’ has lost meaning. This can have impact far beyond the comms industry. “We need to really guard and navigate better the messages that we are sending - what messages we are supporting and what behaviour it is that we’re supporting.”
- Challenge Assumptions: One of the assumptions to challenge is that anger doesn’t motivate. Every conversation about sustainability does not have to be positive and uplifting - this is a tough reality and massive challenge that we are facing. Allowing space for uncomfortable conversation is a part of making change happen. The trick is to meet people where they are at (not everyone needs to hear everything - tailor your information/message).
- Get off the Fence & Know your Red Lines: Delay is the new denial when it comes to climate and sustainability. Now is the time to identify your own red lines when it comes to your work- who will you not work with or what will you not stand for?
- The Allyship Approach: Leadership should be distributed - this is not about one person, we need everyone. The change we need cannot happen with a ‘few great people’ or a few pioneering industries. With this, sharing is part of the process that leads to greater progress and keeps.
ECOFLUENCERS: THE YOUTH LEADERS RE-EDUCATING
“People need to research what’s happening in different parts of the world. You may not experience the climate crisis in your region, but when you find out there are millions of people who are being impacted, it's very hard to not do anything about it. Hopefully, this will inspire people to use their voices, resources and platforms in fighting for justice.” Vannessa Nakate, 24, Uganda
“The hashtags “moss”, “biodiversity” and “native biodiversity” have 84.3 million, 12.6 million and nearly 800,000 views respectively on TikTok.” - The Guardian
Is your feed Eco-enough?
Young earth-advocates are using digital channels to speak about their passion and educate peers on related issues - through memes, IGTV explainers and more. Here’s some amazing accounts (from teens aged 14 to young people in their late 20s and early 30s) we’ve been following:
- Mikaela Loach is a climate justice advocate and anti-racist activist based in Edinburgh. When she’s not studying to become a doctor, she hosts The Yikes Podcast - about all the things that make her ‘YIKE.’
- Nina Gualinga’s (Ecuador) Instagram is a beautiful space, where she campaigns for environmental and Indigenous rights in the Amazon rainforest. “I tell stories. Motherhood. Amazonia. Women. Indigenous People. Extractivism. Violence. Climate Change & Love. It’s all connected.”
- Vanessa Nakate (Uganda) founded @amillionactiviststories and @riseupmovement1.
- Elizabeth Farrell uses her Instagram account to raise awareness of the effects of climate change.
- Phil Torres is all about nature and hosts The Jungle Diaries on YouTube.
- Tori Tsui (Hong Kong -UK) launched the Bad Activist Collective and is one of the people behind Pass The Mic Climate.
- Leah Thomas (US) is the founder of @intersectionalenvironmentalist where she explores the intersections of social and environmental justice.
- Josephine Becker is Mikaela Loach’s podcast co-host. Her Instagram bio says it all - ‘MSc Degrowth + Env. Justice, Climate Activist & System Thinker, Degrowth, Shit stirrer + Compost Maker.”
- Isaias Hernandez (LA) is a self proclaimed “environmental educator who loves (un)learning”. He talks about environmental Justice, veganism, & zero-waste.
- Amy and Ella (@kidsagainstplastic, UK) and Flossie (@flossieandthebeachcleaners, Ireland) are younger teens promoting youth social action against plastic pollution.
- Angel Arutura (Belfast) makes TikToks and everything in-between about anti-racism and sustainability. She is an activist, a writer and educator.
- Wyn Wiley is a queer environmentalist with fresh, creative perspective on climate issues via drag persona ‘Pattie Gonia’ (after Patagonia-gettit?).
- Finn van der Aar talks about everything from marine biology to sustainable diets @saltwaterstories.me.
- Sophie Hellyer (UK), promotes sustainable lifestyles and thinking through an appreciation of nature (namely, the ocean).
- Earthrise was founded by UK based photographer Alice Aedy, and YouTubers Jack and Finn Harries. They break down climate issues in a clear and informative way.
- Theo Cullen-Mouze, Saoi O’Connor & Dara McAnulty are three young activists and nature-lovers based in Ireland with active Twitter accounts, heavily involved in the climate conversation.
We could go on… For more, here’s a few more collated resources that we loved:
- Green TikTokers: Check out this recent Guardian piece on ‘Green Teens’ on TikTok for more - it helps understand some of the varied green themes young people are engaging with online and some of the subcultures.
- 30 Under 30: a great list of young social impact actors as part of Forbes’ latest 30 under 30 in Europe and the US.
- Activists: Earth Day lists climate activists to follow from all around the world.
Stay tuned for more next week where we’ll share our favourite educational resources - articles, longreads, podcasts, you name it!
In this moment, the planet and its people are calling for new kinds of leadership to firmly take hold, and become habit. To begin, start with asking yourself some more informed questions. Make an effort to break out of the thinking habits and solutions you are used to. Spend some time listening to what young people are talking about this month and consider how their messages relate to you and your work.
As you’ll see from this list, many young people involved in earth/climate conversations are also talking about things like racism, gender equality and politics. The ‘intersectional’ element to the re-education being driven by young generations is loud and clear - these issues demand integrated thinking and lots of ‘unlearning.’