Achim Steiner (above), new Director of the Oxford Martin School, gave an absorbing and curiously upbeat talk in Oxford on 29th November about many of the dimensions of the current global challenges in creating a sustainable, fair existence for humanity on the planet.
He argues not for throwing away the existing systems, such as global economic ones, but rather for tweaking them in ways that incentivise right behaviours that take us closer to sustainability for the common good. His most impassioned plea was for members of the audience to consider the degree of pressure currently faced by farmers, especially smallholders, within the agricultural economy. He pointed out that we need that sector to thrive if we are to feed a human population that might grow to 10 billion people. he also emphasised that automation is a threat to employment, yet within a few decades we will need about 600 million new jobs if we are to continue to use employment as an important means for people to provide for themselves.
Although this was one of the best, most integrative talks I've ever attended, I'm left with one question that bugs me - how to turn the fine words into fine actions. Indeed, that's a question I ask of myself as well as wonder about others.
The video of the talk can be accessed at:
The Planetary CFO - working towards a sustainable World Balance Sheet.