Arron Wood

Sustainable Business and Education Leader

The world through hope-tinted glasses

Is it just me, or has does the arrival of September feel like it came out of nowhere? One minute I am turning the clock back an hour for daylight savings, and now, two seasons later I see people tentatively stepping outside without their jackets. Time flies and a lot has happened these past six months that’s worth reflecting on.

Of particular note was the World Ecocity Summit in July, which saw environmental experts from all over the world converge in Melbourne to share their insights, concerns and case studies on how they are responding to climate change.

Al Gore was the keynote speaker and an obvious highlight, especially when he gave me a little shout. I still share this story whenever there’s a convenient segue. You can join me in reliving this glorious moment here:

What I found particularly inspiring about his talk was that even though we consistently face a lot of challenges responding to climate change, there are numerous reasons to be hopeful and optimistic. All over the world the private and public sector are working together to deliver major projects that are already making a difference. Al Gore’s talk ended with a resounding sense of hope as he rallied us with a message from Martin Luther King Jr’s speech, ‘How Long, Not Long.’ I can’t do either of these great men justice, but when you live a life guided by truth, it is never too long until change ‘because no lie can live forever… the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.’

I have worked in this industry for almost 20 years and have experienced a lot of scepticism, cynicism and negativity. It doesn’t take much for nay-sayers to pounce on anything you say to try disprove you or conclude that environmentalists basically just want to decry the end of the world. Even being concerned about melting ice sheets is met with accusations we think people should stop using electricity. I haven’t worked out how to not get irritated, but focusing on what we are achieving helps.

Globally, there are governments and corporations that are best described as disappointing. If we were waiting for our Federal Government to be leaders on climate change, we’d still be waiting. Although this criticism is warranted and there is a lot to say about it, we can’t let this be the centre of conversation when it comes to climate change. What’s most important is what we are actually doing. What’s important is how much we are achieving, and how much progress there is to look forward to. There are reasons for hope and optimism, and we should never forget or underestimate the power of this.

The Summit wasn’t just about Al Gore though. With over 300 speakers from over 30 different countries, this was a unique and diverse opportunity to network, collaborate and gain insight into the many hundreds of projects all over the world. There aren’t many events where you can learn about growing urban forests, climate museums and how to organise grassroots campaigns all in the one place.

All in all, the World Ecocity Summit captured our imaginations while also providing insight into the potential, innovation and inventions occurring in this space. It was a great event, and for those of you who also attended, I hope you found it equally rewarding.

There’s still more to tell you about what I’ve been up to, but you’re just going to have to wait until my next entry. How long until my next post? Not long!