By Brianna Kerr (YGC Ambassador, 2020)
When people ask me if I am a pessimist or an optimist about the future of our big blue planet, I always give the same answer.
I’m frightened by the data. Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told us that we have twelve years to stop global warming of more than 1.5 degrees celsius – the point at which we reach irreversible sea-level rise, widespread food shortages, and massive coral reef die-offs. Maple croft’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index has indicated that 84% of the world’s fastest-growing cities face extreme climate change risks and nations everywhere are already experiencing the terror of unpredictable weather. The ocean is lapping at Kiribati’s doorstep, erratic rains are cutting rice production across the Pacific Rim, Somalia has endured yet another dry-wet season and right now at home in Australia, an unprecedented number of bushfires are ravaging the country. So yes, sometimes I am pessimistic.
But, then I look at the changemakers, the go-getters, those that are championing the preservation of Mother Earth. When I speak with them, learn from them and work with them, I am inspired. Imagine a world where nylon tights are created from sunlight, rather than atmosphere-polluting chemicals. Imagine picking juicy green basil from your kitchen aquaponic fish tank, rather than supermarket shelves. Imagine merging the joys of overseas travel with the power of language teaching for disadvantaged communities. Or blind people that can see using robotics rather than a cane. How about smallholder farmers empowered to combat crop disease through an artificial intelligence app, available on any mobile phone? Imagine a world in which remote communities can grow food locally and affordably, no matter how frozen or hot or arid the environment.
Well, you don’t need to imagine. All of these businesses exist today. And, all were founded by young people from around the globe.
No business model better encapsulates the imperative of the Global Solutions Initiative of ‘recoupling the economy with social prosperity and environmental sustainability’ than the social enterprise or the ‘profit for purpose’ model. I am part of a company where we believe in the concept of ‘world positive’ business. The handprint of a world-positive company is bigger than its footprint. The company generates a net-positive impact on society and the environment and seeks to improve this impact in a transparent manner, year-on-year. You can read more about the concept here. It is proven that when businesses create shared value partnerships and take their social and environmental obligations seriously, they prosper.
Doing good is good business and doing the right thing now will inevitably contribute to the future prosperity of our world.
So, am I pessimistic or optimistic? Read through the list of businesses above again. How could I not be optimistic?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Solutions Initiative.
Brianna is the Director at Kua, a circular coffee supplier for workplaces in Sydney, Australia. All their profits are reinvested to empower women. All used coffee is collected and repurposed. Brianna participated in the Young Global Changers program in 2019 and has recently been selected to serve as one of the official Ambassadors of the Young Global Changers program for 2020.