“Change takes longer than you think - and then it happens faster than you ever thought possible.” Christiana Figueres
A New Era of Leadership Required: Everyone is required to be an ‘activist’ now to avoid an ‘atlas of human suffering’. These topics bring up big, uncomfortable, necessary questions. Businesses need to support themselves and their employees, but they are also required to venture beyond traditional decision making. Being an effective sustainability leader, to summarise Former Unilever boss Paul Polman, means thinking exponentially (not linearly), not getting complacent, ditching incrementalism, changing mindsets and embracing our interconnected nature. How do we create the conditions to work in these ways? We’ve seen nature given a seat at board tables, Mother Earth being made Patagonia’s sole shareholder… We are even starting to see businesses taking future generations into better account by setting up youth boards or consultations:
"Airfield Estate worked with Thinkhouse to set up and recruit a Youth Board. Our mission is to work together with young people to make Airfield as a sustainable food hub and Dublin a world-leading sustainable food city. We're already getting new ideas and accelerating ambition by putting future generations at the heart of our decision making - and we now have a best practice case study. It would be brilliant to see more organisations do something like this. The campaign brought Airfield to a whole new audience and did way more beyond recruitment in terms of profiling the organisation and engaging new audiences." Claire McEvilly, CEO, Airfield Estate
Real Transformation Means Everything, Everywhere: This is an all hands on deck moment - no individual company can drive the change required on its own. Industries need to come together to make a real collective impact. Most recently it was brilliant to see lawyers coming together to refuse to prosecute peaceful climate protesters - check out Lawyers Are Responsible, the Lawyers Climate Pledge and the fantastic Client Earth which takes legal action to protect all life on earth.
Brands continue to inspire too, with news of Irish Distillers and HEINEKEN Ireland collaborating to pilot a pioneering regenerative agriculture project. Heineken has also announced plans to reach Net Zero 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement and is making new moves to decarbonise its supply chain. Elsewhere, big name competitor retailers have come together in the UK to tackle Scope 3 emissions. Levelling up impact means working together with competition, recognising the importance of a bigger picture: “If we’re going to play our part, then we must put climate at the heart of every single decision.” Prof Peter Thorne.
Our friends at Purpose Disruptors are hosting an Earth Day Ad Summit in London on April 25th with Brian Eno and Jon Alexander (author of Citizens). Thinkhouse Strategy Director, Purpose & Planet, Laura Costello, will be involved in a ‘Changemakers Masterclass’. Check out more information and tickets.
Use Culture & Creativity To Level Up - from Storytelling to Action: Expectations from younger generations are getting higher. Storytelling needs to be supported by meaningful actions. We need to creatively incorporate new ways of thinking and operating to respond to this challenge. For example, in the lead up to Earth Day (April 22nd) the creative team at Thinkhouse is currently working on a GoodLife2030 creative brief from Creatives for Climate, exploring how to help people adopt more sustainable lifestyles by getting them to feel and taste a new good life in 2030 - because: “Socio-cultural changes within transition pathways can offer Gigaton-scale CO2 savings potential at the global level.” IPCC. Project Drawdown also estimates that as individuals we can drive 25-30% of the global emission reductions needed to avoid the worst of climate change (read more).
It’s beneficial for brands to source ideas and new ways of thinking from sources beyond the ‘corporate’ world. Writers like Robin Wall Kimmerer and Rebecca Solnit and initiatives like Stories For Life and People’s Plan for Nature are endlessly inspiring: “What if the austerity is how we live now — and the abundance could be what is to come?” Rebecca Solnit
More IPCC inspired Brand Guidance from Thinkhouse Planet Team is available here.