Our Influencer Luna represented the Sustainability Influencers at a business panel on youth engagement and sustainability at a Slotskredsmøde at Frederiksberg!
In a Blogpost at “the business of Society” sustainability influencers share their perspective on the sustainability agenda, explain why a youth movement for sustainable development is crucial and why we need more “Gretas”.
If not now, when?
As the days get shorter and the year slowly draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on 2018. This last year, has seen endless headlines of shocking and fatal natural disasters around the world; From Tsunamis, hurricanes, rapidly spreading forest fires to severe drought and horrifying floods are only a few of the hardly bearable events that confronted us this year.
The last year has clearly shown us that numerous climate disasters with countless deaths, devastated countries and millions of climate refugees, demand strong action for the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals with its 169 targets – and if not now, when? And if not the young, then who?
Charlotte Piller – Copenhagen Business School
If not us, then who?
We are representatives from Sustainability Influencers, an initiative which wants to inspire students to challenge the status quo. A movement initiated by Student and Innovation House and CBS PRME, our group consists of students from universities around Denmark. We aim to engage students across educational backgrounds to increase commitment towards the SDG’s. We are convinced that in order to achieve the UN SDGs, we need to mobilise, engage and empower fellow students to create change.
We, the young generation, want to lead the way to a more sustainable future. Fortunately, UN SDGs provide us with a framework and a common language to push for sustainable development, foster needed innovation, social inclusion and green economic growth.
Why should it be us?
Growing up in an age of climate change, we question how the issue is currently dealt with and believe that one of our main tasks is to drive the green transition of our society; since this can never happen by the actions of just a few, a youth movement for sustainable development is crucial. Besides the fact that we are impatient and enthusiastic, the answer to how we can help transform our world, may be found in understanding the way we perceive, interpret and ultimately act today. There is a basic change going on with the young people of the world, which re-defines fundamental concepts of freedom, power and identity to community.
In contrast to the previous generation’s understanding of freedom as autonomy and exclusivity, we feel free when being part of a community with access to others in our network. Freedom therefore means inclusivity to us. We also have a different perception of power. While others believed in top-down power, we are convinced of the power of the many – of our community. Moreover, we are seeing a change in the way younger generations perceive identity to community. As we begin to see climate change impacting our communities, and understanding that there’s nowhere to escape, we begin to realize that we’re part of a world community. Everything is not a zero-sum game, with just a few winners. And so, we are beginning to strongly empathize with our fellow humans around the planet.
These changes that we are seeing give us hope that we can help support the needed transformation of our societies and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals not only for Denmark, but for everyone.
Luna Stæhr – University of Copenhagen
Mikkel Beyer Mogensen – Aalborg University
Seize the opportunity and be like Greta!
Every change starts with a vision and people who fearlessly fight for it by inspiring, mobilizing and engaging others to drive this change – in each of their communities. In these communities the share of influence by us, the millennials, who by definition are restless seeking of the meaning in life is becoming bigger. We are looking for the opportunities to do fulfilling and useful work and at the same time has an impact on the world. An opportunity to change life for the better. Dear young generation, open your eyes and look around, you are surrounded by opportunities! Seize them professionally or personally, but in any case, as world citizens, drive inspiration.
We ne need more people like 15-year-old Greta Thunbergs, a strong-headed and exemplary girl, who skips school every Friday in order to draw attention to climate change in the streets of Stockholm, and fewer American billionaires researching new planets to populate instead of fighting for our planet – our home. Do not just recklessly give it up, but rather be like Greta: foster change and make for different headlines in the future.
Here is a quick overview of our presence in the Danish media for November:
On 19 November, we were featured in the article ‘Iværksættere og unge i gang med Verdensmålene’ on CSR.dk. The article concerned our programme, the Danish entrepreneurial week, the need for young entrepreneurs and youth with an agenda. Read the full article here.
Speaking at the UN's 73rd birthday
On October 24, when Copenhagen Business School hosted the celebration of the UN’s 73rd birthday, the Sustainability Influencers, represented by Luna and Mikkel, gave an inspiring speech on the importance of bringing in youth when trying to solve the global challenges. Here are some of the key points from the speech.
Action for sustainability is strongly needed, and if not now – then when? And if not us, the young generation – then whom?
We aspire to help create a change – a change where we approach the challenges of today and tomorrow differently than we previously could have imagined. A change where students are mobilized and engaged to drive the change themselves, in each our their communities.
BUT, the fact is that our societies and our global economy are confronted with one of the greatest challenges that humanity has ever faced– how sustainable development can be obtained and achieved – and how sustainable development successfully can be implemented in all layers and in all corners of our society.
This challenge we face today is unprecedented – the steps ahead of us to transform our societies into economic, environmental and socially viable have to be taken now, which means that we will have to navigate and create a new path together as we move forward.
Because the ways we have been behaving and gone about our business – both in the literal and metaphorical sense – everything ranging from running businesses to organize our economy – has not been sustainable. This calls for rethinking how we want to structure our economy, run our businesses, public institutions and our society in general.
This is why we believe it is so critical that we dare to challenge the existing and unsustainable paradigm, which has prevailed for far too long, and that we dare to aspire to transform business-as-usual.
Around the world, we are already witnessing climate change. This summer was the warmest summer that Europe has experienced in more than 100 years. We have seen how climate change affected farmers’ yield and we continuously witness cities so polluted that is causes health issues and impeding economic growth. Climate change and the over-extracting of our planet’s resources is a reality.
The 1st of August was marked as Earth Overshoot Day, that is the day when all of humanity has used more from nature than our planet can renew in an entire year. This year, 2018, it was the earliest overshoot day ever.
Challenging status quo
So how do we go from here? How do we take action and create a new path towards a more sustainable future? Action can be driven by all of us – political leaders, businesses, universities and us, the younger generation, the students. But if societies are to evolve, develop and foster sustainable growth, a youth movement is crucial. Preferring status quo over change is self-destructive and omitting the voice of the younger generations will result in a reduction of new and transformative ideas. A youth movement must take action and must be given a chance to act unconstrained by the old and narrow paradigm. We have to foster thoughts that will allow us to approach the world from entirely new angles.
The need for a youth movement
A youth movement to drive change is crucial. The positions currently held by the older generations will sooner or later be passed on to us, as a natural process. But the question will then be, how we will build on the existing structure and how will we challenge our linear economy and transform it into a green, circular and sustainable one.
As we begin to see climate change impacting our entire community, and there’s nowhere to escape, we begin to realize we’re part of that larger community and that everything is not a zero-sum game, with only a few winners. And so we’re getting our younger generations beginning to empathize with our fellow human beings and our fellow creatures in one biosphere. This is a hopeful narrative of the human race. This is the reason why we as the youth must stress the very importance of bringing communities to the front, and of ensuring partnerships across networks, sectors, and industries.
Partnerships should not only be built between sectors and industry as a critical mean to achieve the SDGs, it should be built between generations. When building such partnerships, we allow novel thoughts and learnings from the former generation to pass on to us, which we will refine, rebuild and rethink and this will be a crucial step to sustainable development.
We challenge you
We challenge you as students, professors, politicians, and businesses to take responsibility and engage with each other. We all have to really come together. We’ve got one generation —ours— to lay down the plans and execute them. It ours and your responsibility to carry this weight, a weight that no generations had in history. We don’t know of any period in history where one generation was called upon to save the human species. But we don’t have to shy away from the seemingly daunting task. Obviously, there is a lot of work to be done, but we believe that we can learn from each other, and begin to mobilize, engage and empower not only students but everyone to collaborate to find solutions to those shared challenges that we face today.
If you want to know more about the day, you can read all about it here.
Two of our Influencers gave a speech at an event at Frederiksberg Kommune. The Influencers addressed topics such as the youth engagement and innovation and asked the politicians for a seat at the table!