Huge swathes of the planet are experiencing severe droughts.
As we view shocking images of the great rivers of the world literally drying up, it is increasingly clear that this is not going to be a one off. Extreme weather, from heatwaves to droughts to flooding, are going to be the new normal. We need to act fast – both to reduce the severity of this change AND to mitigate to minimise the impact on all our lives.
But as we look around for solutions, ideas and the leadership to drive them forward, we face a whole spectrum of other droughts. A drought of investment, a drought of action, a drought of acknowledgement of the real crisis we are facing and yes, an overwhelming drought of leadership.
Over 50 years after scientists started warning of climate change, we still find ourselves in a world driving ever harder for continuous growth in consumption and therefore inexorable growth in emissions. Numerous people in leadership positions across governments and business are still shying away from even accepting that there is a climate crisis let alone delivering the urgent action needed to mitigate it.
Leaders are quick to sign up to targets – to look good in the headlines and be ‘at the party’ when it comes to talking green – but targets are meaningless if they are not accompanied by investment, policy change, action and long term commitment. As two politicians very publicly vie to lead the UK government, they can only bring themselves to talk about encouraging us all to recycle more.
We face droughts of commitment, of care for people and planet and of courage to take urgent decisions to help us survive and thrive.
Who is instead jostling to drive a dynamic green recovery? Who is pushing for an immediate cessation of subsidies for mining our very finite supplies of fossil fuels and massive investment in harnessing the infinite production of energy from the sun, wind and tides? Who is legislating not to create more and more ‘freeports’ where regulations that protect people and planet can be ignored, and start legislating to make polluters, tax avoiders and exploitative employers pay to clean up our rivers, support the most vulnerable and create meaningful and secure local jobs? Who is supporting communities to generate their own energy and reinvest the profits into local services rather than supporting those same communities to simply hand over more profits to overseas mega-corporations and their shareholders? Who is really addressing the long term risks of a drought of food on our tables, heat in our homes and staff in our schools and hospitals?
Who is addressing these droughts? Instead we face yet more droughts – of commitment, of care for the people or the planet we live on, of courage to take the urgent, long term decisions we need to survive and to thrive.
There is hope. Small sprouts of such leadership can be seen on the seemingly dried up river-beds of government innovation around the world. A few national leaders commissioning Wellbeing Budgets or legislating for future generations. Local leaders not waiting for national change, but instead putting in place a means to put the capacity of everyone to thrive at the heart of their decision-making.
It is possible to create local rainclouds to break the cycle of drought when it comes to delivering innovative solutions to today’s complex and interconnected global challenges – but we need more and more leaders to step up and become generators of a new spring to replenish our communities, one place at a time.
Liz Zeidler, CEO, Centre for Thriving Places
If you’d like to know how CTP can help make this shift where you are, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-brown-bare-tree-on-brown-surface-during-daytime-60013/