I want to start 2020 on an upbeat note, but you’ll have to read to end of this blog to hear it!
The bush fires in Australia are yet another alarm bell sounding. Leading scientists are now saying that unless we change course drastically, we are heading for a planet that, within the lifetime of people alive today, will only support 0.5-1 billion people. This is the new reality; and this is the decade when we need to get sustainability done.
What is critical to enable the transformation we need?
Sustainability is all about connections. How we plan our communities determines how dependent we are on cars; if our cars are powered by internal combustion engines this creates air pollution, which damages our health, releases carbon emissions and causes climate change. Use of cars supports the oil industry, an industry which also creates single use plastics which end up in the oceans. If we choose to eat the fish, the plastics end up in us and we don’t yet know how that might affect our health. And, by the way, the plastics in the ocean are killing penguins. Everything ultimately is interconnected.
We need to start seeing and managing all these connections. We need to think about interconnectedness.
Although awareness of the connections is growing, we do not have the tools to see and manage the connections, yet. All our tools and management processes are geared towards seeing things in isolation. We see data as cells in Excel spreadsheets without being able to see the context in which those data sit and we manage based on specific targets.
We see a problem with single use plastics, and, without thinking of the connections, we replace them with glass. Glass requires a lot of energy to produce and is heavy to transport, thus also increases carbon emissions…unless, that is, we see things in the round. Instead we can then refill the glass jars; not have them recycled by crushing them, again, using a lot of energy. We should refill the glass bottles, locally.
Returning to cars and our communities – we build car dependent communities which, even if they were all to become electric cars, still tend to make us obese. Cars disadvantage people who perhaps cannot afford to run a car; and cars disconnect us from our neighbours. This creates physical and mental health problems, which we then spend a fortune on trying to repair after the event. We will not solve sustainability unless we can start managing for the connections. We need tools that enable us to do that.
This is why, after thirty years’ of working in sustainability, I am so excited. Over the past three years, we have been working with a great team of technologists and designers – thanks Barrie, Fred, Jan, Richard and Pawel! We have taken the challenge of interconnectedness to adapt cutting-edge network database structures to enable the creation of what I think will be a revolutionary digital platform – Oneplanet.com. We have basic functionality deployed but many more releases in the pipeline.
It will let you start mapping the connections in your life, your company, the projects you are work on, the place you live, and then connect your plan to any other plan. You’ll be able to make ecosystems for action with your neighbours, your customers, your supply chains and your city – all in real time. You will see how you thrive when your ecosystem thrives. You’ll be able to identify, harmonise and collaborate around the things that matter for your ecosystems.
Imagine, if we can connect tens, hundreds and millions of plans and we start to see and manage all of these connections. Not only will we be able to see new connections, which will change our thinking, but we will have the tools to manage them. Ultimately, we will thrive as individuals when the whole planet thrives.
I’d love you to start playing with Oneplanet.com. Create a free login. Tell us what you think. Help us develop and grow the platform, as a movement, so we can pull together and live in harmony on our one planet. We can do this, together.