Solving the “greatest moral challenge of our time”

“Climate change is now one of the greatest moral and economic challenges of our time.”

A sentence that draws a host of varied reactions, but was one that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stood by in a speech after ratifying the Kyoto protocol in 2007. Fast forward five years, and the speed and efficiency with which we, as a global society, have been able to effectively implement climate compatible strategies could be called into question.

This is a complex challenge. One where a solution cannot easily be found – do we even know what it looks like yet? Imagine the challenge from the point of view of a developing country. They are likely to be more harshly affected by the resultant symptoms of a warmer planet and yet, even with the gift of hindsight, are not often able to develop in the most sustainable of fashions. So, how may they choose to develop sustainably?

The answer still unknown, though there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

The Climate Development Knowledge Network, a five-year initiative aimed at assisting developing countries meet the challenges posed by climate change, partnered with Future Considerations to get 190 world experts on climate-compatible development to pool their knowledge, networks and passion to create ground-breaking prototypes for implementation.

The Network knew that a conventional 5-day event would not authentically serve achieve their vision of creating real innovation and action – even with the expertise of policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, students and entrepreneurs involved in the arena of climate change and development in the room.

Together, we re-evaluated the entire process to be one big ‘U process’, from co-initiating before the event to co-evolving after the event. The theory was used to inform the design flow over the five-day conference and was supplemented with an innovative range of interventions such as open space, world café, and Lego Serious Play. Virtual technologies were used to support the physical learning of the participants through e-learning platforms and on-line communities of practice.

The result was reported to be extraordinary. The sharing and learning process led to self-organising hubs around two dozen or more innovative prototypes. In the process, people formed new strategic relationships that transcended geography, background and expertise in the face of a common purpose. The output was of such high quality that 11 of the prototypes went on to receive CDKN Innovation funding support, with many more securing funding from other sources.

The lasting value of these prototypes is yet to be fully understood, as most are still in the process of implementation, however, the feedback from those who participated was that a new standard for climate compatible innovation had been set.

The ‘U process’ used in this conference created the space for innovative action to directly address climate compatible development for third world countries. It meant that the impossible became possible, and creativity came to life rather than existing as a buzzword for a marketing brochure.

Imagine the power of this process in any business environment. What could it mean for the creation of your sustainability strategies?

Or let’s take it one step further…

  • What is the greatest moral and economic challenge of your business?
  • How will you plan to overcome this challenge and transform it into an opportunity?

Mark is a renowned expert in sustainability and sought after facilitator of senior executive teams and multi-stakeholder events. Click here to find out more about Mark and contact him for further information about his experience.

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