3 first steps for the next change to approach sustainability

“Honestly, we need to start saving ourselves, because the planet will take care of itself – not us!” – I heard this sentence at the World Circular Economic Forum organized by SITRA in October. As everything recently, it was an online conference strongly focused only on circular and sustainable solutions. Listening to the group of experts and specialists sharing their wisdom and expertise, I keep thinking about those words that I mentioned above. I keep asking myself: how can my team at Next Agents speak clearly with business representatives to explain this? How can we talk about the need of saving the environment first, so we can save ourselves? How to talk about such a complex matter as the unbreakable symbiosis of humans and nature?

Optimization, zero-waste, or second-life isn’t some new age philosophy, it is a true possibility that has been hidden by the on-demand culture we live in. Now we know that just recycling is not enough, it is a good step towards transformation, but we need to challenge ourselves further.

At Next Agents, we defend that this is the final time to focus on sustainability and circularity – since, it’s not a choice anymore – it is a demand coming straight from the users (who are getting more and more aware and conscious of their customer choices). We believe that businesses can have circularity in their DNA. Sounds easy? Theoretically yes, but practically no so much. Luckily for us, more and more often governments, institutions, and businesses support the transition and share their knowledge, tools, grants, and direct the right sources towards the challenge. Since we are all facing the global crisis from so many angles (as for example presented by the Planetary Boundaries framework), we can’t avoid not discussing this topic anymore. Indeed, recent research points out that the costs of climate change have been often underestimated (1) and we cannot expect the world economy to continue to grow reliably as this far. It is time for a change that starts in all of us.

The starting point: YOU

Our name “Next Agents” was chosen because we believe change needs to happen both at an individual and systemic level. So we have collected 3 references that you, both as an individual and as a business representative, need to explore and understand to become an agent of what is next at your own home or business.

The Paris Agreement

Start from The Paris Agreement which was introduced to the world in 2015 at COP 21 in Paris. It is a global framework to combat a dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. It also aims to strengthen countries’ ability to deal with the impacts of climate change and support them in their efforts with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation. For the first time – this document brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.

Sustainable Development Goals

Then move to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will give you a category of changes that you might take into consideration. Also known as the 17 Global Goals, these were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. The 17th SDGs: No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Reducing Inequality, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, Life Below Water, Life On Land, Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, Partnerships for the Goals.  Of particular interest might be Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, which looks at how innovation, together with technology and industry, can fast forward infrastructures.

A Life in Our Planet

In the end watch a new David Attenborough movie called “A Life on our Planet” to sink deep into the holistic approach of symbiosis of human and nature. David in a gentle way shows us the bad and ugly version of the world that we ourselves have created since last century. At Next Agents, we believe that it is important to take the full blame of this and be able to reflect on it. And David is giving us the already working solutions like: shrink the size of the population to improve the quality of life quality, use the renewable source of power instead of fossil fuel, make the ocean great again, return the wilderness to create biodiversity or rethink the use of farmland.

Going circular: yes, you can

After processing this knowledge (we know this is a lot!) you can take the second step – rethink the way your company or enterprise is working and start talking about it with your coworkers or colleagues. You are not alone in this, you might be surprised how many people want to change what they do ( how they produce it, supply it, sell it, etc.). There is already so much happening, this is telling us about the shift in people’s minds. A circular economy is a systemic change, and it needs to be addressed from different angles, but the most important aspect is that it needs to be addressed together with all of the stakeholders. Right now, this is the right time to do so – since, we are forced to stimulate the economy – especially during the COVID pandemic.