3 Questions about 2050 – Monica Richter
Monica Richter is a Senior Business Adviser at the Australian Conservation Foundation and is extremely passionate about the role that collaboration of community, government and corporations can play in creating a much needed new global economy.
I caught up with Monica on a very rainy day in Sydney.
“Imagine that I have recently come back from a trip to the future, the year 2050 to be precise. In thinking about our future in terms of sustainability what 3 questions would you like to ask me?”
“The first question would have to be about the energy / food / water nexus. How are we feeding ourselves? How are we powering our cities? Have we managed to look after our precious water resources?”
A tough question. And one that is very topical at the moment.
The questions are harder than I thought, the second one – “How have we managed to deal with the equitable distribution of our resources – within and also across nations?”
One that I would love to know the answer to myself, how do we live equitably within one planet!
And the final one, “What were the three greatest disruptive trends or technologies that we saw in that time?”
I like that one – what were the game changers?
“How would knowing the answers to these questions help you?”
“In my role of looking at new ways of measuring economics and wellbeing, and creating new economic models that better account for the environmental footprint I recognise that we can’t leapfrog overnight, that it has to be taken in steps. There is a role for Government through setting good policy and distributing tax payers money to take advantage of the New Economy meaning smart, clean, green, financially successfully while ecologically sustainable, there is a role for the Community in engaging in conversations of the kind of future we want and there is a role for Business to innovate and create new business opportunities. So knowing the answers to my three questions would allow me and the people I work with be better informed.”
“It would allow us to avoid potholes or potential mistakes along the way, it would allow us to make more enlightened choices and policies. It would also allow brave CEO’s and Boards to become ‘activists’ in the new economy.”
Now that would be disruptive – CEO’s and Boards being activists in the new economy!
“Rather than coming from fear about an uncertain future, knowing the answers would allow us to embrace the change. Rather than being an economy heavily reliant on fossil fuel exports at the expense of other sectors, we can find champions for the New Economy that will create jobs in for example advanced manufacturing, building innovation, rethinking energy and water, food, resource use, sustainable fuels, education and much more.”
“If we can see how the new economy has dealt with the energy, food and water nexus equitably then we will all be better off – whatever better off means, it might not mean more money, it might mean working 3 or 4 days a week and volunteering our spare time to schools or aged care centres, looking after the new and the old generations.”
Now that does sound like a great future – a new economy where our value is not determined by how much money we have but by how much we offer our community.
“If you knew the future and what we needed to do, what do you think are our current enablers or barriers?”
“Our most critical enablers are people with vision and leadership within government, business and community. Collaboration between government, business and community requires us to put aside our differences, to strengthen areas of agreement and to learn from one another.”
“Timing is an enabler but also a barrier and is also very difficult to control. Sometimes the timing is right and sometimes its not, we have to take advantage when it is right.”
“A key barrier is lack of trust. We need to find ways to develop and build trust within the collaboration of government, business and community. And also across nations. We need determination and respect.”
“We need political will and bi-partisan consensus – not just with climate change, but with energy security, with the energy / food / water nexus. How do we take economic advantage of our lucky country resources and look after the environment at the same time?”
“We also need to allow our leaders to speak out without fear or favour. Without this it makes it hard to build the story of our future.”
“The final question for you to ponder, what is the one thing that you think defines sustainability or a sustainable lifestyle?”
“One Planet Living, ie living within our environmental means across different nations and generations.”
Awesome, we only have one and we need to live within it in a fair and equitable way.
Thanks Monica, some very thought provoking responses.