A New Spring for Sustainability

March 24, 2016

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Get ready: here comes some good news.

Close up of seeds blowing from dandelion on blue backgroundYes, the northern hemisphere’s Spring weather seems to have brought new energy for sustainability. Several other factors, not weather-related, are also putting a “spring” in sustainability’s step these days.

Before I tell you about those, and share a lot of useful links, here’s an offer:  learn our tools for strategic sustainability online, with me, four Mondays in April. You still have four days left to get an early bird discount. This is always a wonderful class, and every year people emerge out of it to become more active members of our network, too. Details here. http://www.sustainabilityprofessionals.org/

What has given sustainability its recent bounce? The SDGs, for starters. A growing number of countries, companies, and organizations are taking the implementation of the SDGs very seriously. They are setting new internal targets, creating new initiatives and partnerships, and generally “getting it”:  they understand that sustainability and systems thinking is the new mainstream. And transformation is the goal.

Another factor: the good news/bad news story on climate change. Good news: we got a new global agreement in Paris. Bad news: global temperature records are being shattered every month, showing that even that agreement may not be enough. Paradoxically, that seems to be leading to more good news: people are taking climate change more seriously than ever before.

That’s the big picture. But dig down into the policy details and you find things like the European Union’s new “Circular Economy Package” — meaning, a new set of policies and directives designed to turn waste into resource — which is causing ripples across that continent.

But that’s just the tip of a growing iceberg. (Or maybe, given the climate-change-fueled spring temperatures, we should admit that it’s also a melting one.)

You find the continuing rise of renewable energy, the deepening interesting in creating a sustainable Green Economy on land and Blue Economy in the sea, the arrival of the new indicators to measure sustainable development, the market awareness of “stranded assets” linked to fossil fuels and water scarcity, and even a near-victory on changing the legal meaning of “fiduciary duty” for pension fund managers to include long-term risks like climate change. (This change would be so huge for sustainability that even a near-victory in one country — the UK’s Law Commission accepted it, the Cameron government vetoed it — is still a victory. Real victory seems inevitable, eventually.)

Here at AtKisson Group, we are seeing the effect of this “sustainable Spring” up close. Companies are asking for help with the SDGs. Our Compass Education training program for schools and teachers is growing. We are even celebrating the (modest) success of our first music video, an upbeat dance song about the SDGs, produced for 17Goals — over 11,000 views and counting. (Feel free to use the video in your training program, conference, or classroom … as many others appear to be doing!)

Yes, there is great trouble in the world — as usual. But there is also a growing sense of hope and purpose. Just like the Spring, positive change is, in some sense, inevitable. And right now, it seems that sustainability’s time has truly come.

– Alan AtKisson

Seeing any more signs of sustainability’s spring? Write to us … we’re going to keep tweeting, blogging, and generally writing about this. And don’t forget the online training opportunity …