With a decisive victory for the ‘Get Brexit Done’ campaign, a new chapter begins. A lot of people in the UK are deeply upset by the result. A result perhaps representing the victory of isolationism over a more internationalist stance. Especially at a time where collaboration on global issues such as climate change seem more urgent than ever.
As we end 2019 and move into a new decade, where might we find the common ground? And, along with it, where might we find the hope for a more united country, but also a more united world? Does the breakdown of international systems, pressures of technological change, growing inequality and the climate and ecological crisis, offer us an unparalleled chance to take stock and reinvent ourselves, our society and our beliefs? I may be mad [😉], but perhaps until we experience breakdown we have no impetus for the deep changes we know we need to make.
I am not expecting things to be easy. As more environmental and social issues emerge, we will be challenged massively. National and international governance will struggle to provide solutions, since they still remain vested in a global economy driving environmental destruction. Like many others, however, I see the future increasingly in building more resilient cities and regions; ones fit not only to survive the challenges ahead, but to thrive in spite of, or even because of, them.
Local food, energy, water and recycling systems will emerge as a response to global resource constraints. Just like local ecosystems, these local solutions will be healthier than global flows of resources upon which we currently depend.
To respond to the new reality, we will need new thinking and new tools.
The transition won’t be pain-free, but those communities which build a coherent narrative of looking after people and looking after the environment will be more resilient than those that don’t. We have been successful as a species, because of our ability to cooperate. This ability is afforded to us because we are, predominantly, social and moral creatures. Cooperation is dependent on morality.
It is here that I see hope shining through, clear and strong. Morality today means looking after our planet as much as it means looking after people. You can’t easily do one without the other. Fail to understand this and you create psychological strains which weaken your ability to cooperate. Weaken your ability to cooperate and you reduce your ability to build resilience. Thus also reducing not only your fitness to survive tougher times, but also for your ideology to compete and spread. Good wins out because it out-competes the lack of good.
I believe the ideological battle this coming decade will not be between the old lines of left versus right. It will be between an old morality and the new. I have a sense that it won’t even feel like a battle. Rather it will feel like the guiding hand of kindness – albeit a firm one.
There is a lot to do in 2020 and I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts and hearing yours. It will be an important year – one which I suspect we’ll look back on as the year when everything changed. Let’s get the year off to a good start and make the 2020s the decade when we got sustainability done!