As the decade closed and the fires burned, we strategised the coming year for our brands. I’m analytical by nature and creative at heart, and love to create predictions for the coming years. One of my favourite predictions is the Pantone colour of the year, I usually at least get into the forecasts, and some years I nail it. Rather than a New Year’s resolution, I choose a word for the year to uphold. As we started a new decade, I went one step further and predicted for the world the word of the decade – courage.
Why courage? As 2019 ended, I felt an overwhelming sense of frustration at the lack of courage I witnessed across the globe, particularly in Australia. It had been a year that left the words of my husband echoing in my ears, “Well, that’s the end of the Barrier Reef”, as the Queensland Government approved the Carmichael (Adani) Mine.
I listened to people vent that children shouldn’t be protesting what they don’t understand and that teachers are to blame for their influence. I sat impatiently as people argued that our emissions only contribute to a percentage of those globally. There’s been an attitude to climate change reflecting what I term the ‘Ostrich head in the sand’ approach to ignoring problems. It’s a problem I have seen among many elected leaders and corporate decision-makers.
The fact remains as we begin this decade, it is already our last opportunity to take affirmative climate action. It is our last opportunity to act. Act on the damage we are creating, act on the legacy we are leaving and act courageously to ensure the future of humanity.
In March 2019 the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, called for immediate climate action at the UN General Assembly Meeting on Climate and Sustainable Development.
“We need action, ambition and political will,” he told the General Assembly.
The world has 11 years to prevent the irreversible damage of climate change. This revelation at the meeting comes after dozens of studies predicted the timeline and adverse effects of global warming, including studies commissioned by the Australian Government and CSIRO.
President of the UN General Assembly at the time of the meeting, Maria Garcés implored world leaders to take immediate and impactful action.
“I invite you all to commit to 2020 being the last year carbon emissions increase due to human activities,” she told the General Assembly.
The coming decade must be about the courage to create impact and bold environmental decisions. Furthermore, Courageous leadership is not about blaming those that led poorly, but rather it is about taking action to manage your leadership.
When people feel helpless, the most immediate way to regain power is to look inward to their actions. It is about admitting the mistakes made and that you may not have the answers for the future. Courage means uniting cultures to work together to make decisions that have long term benefits, learning the lessons from the past and looking to those that walked this land first.
We need courageous leaders in our government, communities, and corporations if society is going to make the essential decisions needed to realign us with the planet. We can no longer be resting on the laurels of the past. Leadership requires a cumulative change that has a forward momentum that can’t be disrupted by a switch of government or CEO.
In the wake of the new decade, we are already witnessing leaders incite this positive change. It is the courageous action from corporations who are setting their value system and keeping themselves, their suppliers and employees accountable for becoming carbon neutral. It takes courage for a CEO to commit to paying more for their product because it is ethical and renewable. It takes courage for a CEO to make changes to their business model for the betterment of the climate when facing pushback in favour of the immediate payoff.
It will take courage for our politicians across all parties to come together and make decisions that are for the long-term benefit of our nation, our children and the international community. It will take courageous action for us as individuals to vote for the planet and not our bottom dollar in the way we spend our money, recycle our rubbish and make our political choices.
The tide of leadership is shifting. Leaders that continue to deny the science and urgency of climate change will find themselves left behind. 2020 is the decade of leaders acting courageously.