A few weeks ago, ‘Climate Emergency’ was declared word of the year by Oxford Dictionary. Personally, I feel that this is a good way to end the year; a signifier, if any was needed that the message of the eco-community has transcended various borders to finally go mainstream. Generally speaking, 2019 has been a good year for our community, especially as regards to improving eco-awareness.
In the political arena and in practically every election conducted across the globe this year, the climate debate was a core issue for parties, their candidates and of course the electorate. The UN Climate Change Summit presented the world with a litany of plans to reduce global carbon emissions and tackle the climate emergency we all face, while in the fashion industry, the signing of the G7 fashion pact by over 150 brands, championed by the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy was yet another milestone that added to everything else.
But most of all, the greatest achievement of the eco-community this year was the hike in environmental and climate change awareness worldwide. Through social media campaigns, climate marches and seminars (to mention but a few), an increasing number of people were made aware of the devastating effects of their mindless lifestyle habits –over-reliance on plastic for one. In fact, according to the Oxford Dictionary, the use of the words ‘Climate Emergency’ grew this year to about 10,000%.
Climate strikes in 2019 metamorphosed from casual meetups of eco-geeks to a worldwide movement. Literally. The sustainability community too saw participation not just from the lefties and hippies, but from corporations across various industry sectors. Airlines, big shot hotels and food chains have begun to redefine their brands with a view to making decisions that leave a lighter footprint on the planet– and I am here for it. In fact, as this year draws to a close, we really ought to toast to our accomplishments this year –with organic, vegan beer of course.
However, like the legendary Oliver Twist, I cannot help but want more. For me, the period between one year’s closure and another’s beginning is the perfect time for gratitude as well as introspection. So it’s important that we acknowledge our achievements this year, but it is also crucial to admit to ourselves that we still have a long way to go. The fast fashion industry, for instance is still growing by leaps and bounds; and in politics, despite the raging climate debate, countries are still electing climate skeptics as leaders.
Plastic remains on its march to conquer our oceans and all these beg the questions: What next? What is our way forward come 2020? How do we continually and deliberately translate the much improved eco-awareness to action? Shouldn’t we decide on goals for the coming year? Or should we remain content with sporadic marches and protests on the streets, outside our government houses where the actual laws are made?
Now I will not bore you with the vast benefits of goal-setting, but suffice it to say that the community currently doesn’t seem to have any. Making the planet a better place undoubtedly proves that we have the best of intentions for our world but without SMART goals and deliberate concrete, measurable or actionable steps, just how far can we go?
I think the most potent step for us might be to decide on a set of specific targets and course of action that the green community can commit to achieving in 2020. Because this is the truth many people would rather not hear: we are doing a lot of work at the moment but our actions are fragmented and therefore the overall impact comes in fragments as well. Spontaneity is great; but it cannot hope to beat a well-planned goal list, backed up with action of course.
An example here is the UN Sustainable Development Goals which guides countries and organizations in their work towards achieving sustainable outcomes for all. These goals have been the guidelines that nudge various nations towards the right path and I cannot even imagine the state of affairs across nations without these UN goals. Now as much as these goals are dubbed ‘sustainable’, I feel that the eco-community has wider reaching expectations and so what better way to guide the rest of the world than to provide a set of guidelines to stick to?
Now I am not entirely sure of the structure for this yet. They could be a codified set of goals, guidelines, or a mere list of targets for the New Year. It might also be as simple as a singular hashtag that could be shared across all media platforms to streamline our actions in the next year. It could be anything, but the bigger question is who should get it done? This is usually the kind of tasks governments undertake and set-up up numerous committees for but for obvious reasons, I don’t trust any government or companies with this.
My vote, as always, lies with the people who have inspired and driven this movement thus far. With the activists with their boots on the ground, and the bloggers who have brought the culture of conscious practices to us. Most especially, it lies with you –because your mind chews on these suggestions while you read this- and with me, churning out these thoughts in the hopes that it makes a little sense to you.
We all have to think deeply on this to come up with solutions.
We need to figure out our goals and targets for 2020 because contrary to appearances, the New Year is already here.
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Title image via Essential Living.