This blog is part of a series on my participation in the Governor’s Leadership Foundation program. If you haven’t heard of it, my first post is here.

We need adaptive leadership, not technical solutions to overcome our “wicked” problems. That’s a key message of the Governor’s Leadership Foundation program. Nowhere is this more relevant than when talking about climate change. An issue that requires technical solutions, yes, but absolutely needs adaptive leadership in order to put those solutions into action.

Last month’s topic – climate, energy and water – kind of made me want to break into the Captain Planet theme song… but then I remembered I’m doing an important leadership course and that’s probably not appropriate behaviour.

Really though, Captain Planet’s done a shit job of bringing pollution down to zero, in fact we’re still tracking the other way. The GLF sessions really put in perspective how incredibly important (and overdue) real action on climate change is. Our jobs, health, happiness, and future generations’ survival all depend on having a healthy, habitable planet.

So, what happened at the sessions?

Two and a half days of guest speakers, panels, group discussions, field trips and integration activities… and plenty of coffee. We looked at climate, energy and water from all angles, from both the scientific, statistical side and the social change/social impact side. That’s what I’m loving about the program, there’s such a diverse selection of ideas and perspectives presented.

The sessions are so wonderfully intense that you really need to debrief afterwards. Big shout out to Kattie for still being my friend after sitting through my Show & Tell (multiple photos of rubbish) and listening me talk about our waste and recycling excursion at Wingfield. You’re the best.

And if you’re wondering in trepidation anticipation if this blog includes aforementioned rubbish photos, you’re in luck! Scroll down for pictures of waste.

 

The best bits

Communicating climate change.

Quite a few of the readings and guest speakers looked at the language we use and the way we frame the climate change issue. Which I found fascinating.

For me, three things became clear:

  1. We’ve relied too heavily on climate scientists to communicate and provide solutions – it’s not their job to play every role and fix all the problems. They do what they do excellently and we need to recognise that climate change is not just a science issue, but requires a whole of society approach.
  2. Our approach is still very siloed – our health sector, climate scientists, agricultural sector, communicators, decision makers, activitsts etc are all working separately. Though this is beginning to change, we need to bring these perspectives together if we want real change.
  3. Climate change is a social issue – it’s not just technical solutions that we need, we need attitudinal change.

New thoughts on climate change:

  • Health: The impacts of climate change on people’s health is huge. It’s a topic that I hadn’t directly linked to climate change, but it’s a really great connection point – it makes the issue real and personal. More people dying of heat stroke… that turns global warming into a local issue.
  • Urgency: When the threat of climate change becomes an urgent one, it’ll be way too late to do anything. How do we make it seem real and relevant now? Not off in the distance? I don’t have any solid answers, but it’s interesting food for thought.

 

The most surprising

Rubbish is actually really fascinating.

Oddly enough, rubbish is something that’s always been of interest, as it often comes up when travelling. Whether it’s dropping your bags of rubbish in the public bins down the street in Provence or burning your litter in Phnom Penh – everyone seems to have a different approach.

We checked out how recycling works at Visy, saw how compost is made, and how our rubbish can be turned into a processed engineered fuel (PEF) – a renewable energy source. I found it really interesting to see how it all works and what we don’t hear (for example, don’t put your recycling inside a plastic bag, cos it’ll get thrown straight out).

 

The most challenging

Science.

I broadly understand what climate change is and I’m on board with why it’s bad, but I certainly don’t have a firm grasp on the science. The jargon, buzzwords, numbers and statistics all kind of swim in my head. I found some of the readings and presenters hard to follow, though I do think I understand it a little better now.

Makes you wonder – do we need everyone to understand the science in order to do something OR can we communicate the issue in a way that builds widespread support for action on the issue?

 

Reading list (what I found the most thought-provoking)

ARTICLE: Hoodwinking Humanity – The Hames Report
A fairly scathing report on the Paris COP21 summit – and global climate negotiations in general. It also has an optimist angle – calling for a “mindful uprising of those with the capacity to think and act differently”.

PODCAST: Climate change and behavioural change: what will it take?
An interesting look at climate change as a social issue, why we need psychology in the conversation and how to address the ‘dragons of inaction’.

ARTICLE: Treating climate change: an urgent case for doctors
The impacts of climate change on health and how doctors can play a role in addressing climate change.

WEBSITE: Climate Change in Australia
Lots and lots of information about climate change. The Climate Campus section breaks the issues down and explains how it all works. Also, it’s a prettily designed website. Worth a visit.

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Governor’s Leadership Foundation program is run by the Leaders Institute of South Australia. You can find out more about the institute and the program here.

Part of my participation in the program is generously funded by the Community Business Bureau through their Keith Fulton memorial scholarship. You can find out more about them (including  theirBoardMatch service and salary packaging) here.

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