Climate Week is Over: Now What?
I was honored to join global leaders in an energized NYC during Climate Week 2022 in September. I had the chance to both share with & listen to experts across disciplines who are looking for ways to help in the climate movement including:
an in-studio appearance on Good Morning America
a live remote with Pix11 News
a mental well-being panel at Clinton Global Initiative
a globally broadcast fireside chat with the head of ESG for Warner Music Group
a conversation with faculty and students at the United Nations International School.
Check out my latest appearance on Good Morning America:
7 Big Take Aways from Climate Week:
As a movement, we need to help more people "see" themselves in climate action. Talking about easy ways to get involved, focusing our unique strengths and talents is important. The GMA piece was well-received because of the broad message that we can all do our part and the invitation to start with reducing food waste. We always have to underscore that individual action isn't about the math per se, it's about being a driver for culture change in your own circles. Culture change results in big policy solutions.
Our young people are experiencing a mental health crisis and climate change fuels their anxiety. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy started our session at Clinton Global Initiative with a discussion about the teen mental health crisis, and the impact of social media on young people's well-being with Tristan Harris, humane tech activist. Rates for anxiety and depression are at record levels. We must continue to work on mental health support, open up conversations about getting help, the role that social media and technology play in our lives, and how the stress of the climate crisis, systemic racism, and economic inequality impact teens.
We must provide culturally relevant mental health support to young people. During our panel "The Mental Well-Being of Young People," moderated by Dometi Pongo of MTV News, Mahmoud Khedr of Flora Mind shared his personal story about how hard it was for him to receive mental health support that was relevant to his lived experience and culture. This inspired him to create an organization for others to find culturally appropriate help and to encourage this important conversation at home and abroad.
Gen Z doesn't want the life we lead, the jobs we have, or the future we've created, which is why intergenerational partnership in climate action is so critical. Dr. Tia Dole of The Steve Fund, the nation's leading organization focused on supporting the mental health and well-being of young people of color, helped me realize this. Gen Z is questioning " the do well academically, go to a good school, excel in corporate America model" of Gen X's American dream. Young people want more and expect more. They are rejecting "hustle culture," expecting more quality work but less quantity, and demanding time for self-care. The pandemic exposed so many inequities that they want us to evolve how we show up for work and each other. It's time to engage with them about how we can create a healthier, greener, more equitable future.
We need more collaboration with the mental health community and climate organizations. Climate change is Gen Z's number one issue because they recognize its intersectionality. For many folks in the public health space, "eco-anxiety" was a new term for them. After I spoke on the panel, there was a palpable excitement about bridging the gap from the mental health community and the climate action world.
Climate action isn't about perfection, it's about progress. At Warner Music Group, I discussed "climate anxiety" with Sam Sims, its head of ESG. One question that come up was the concept of "climate guilt," and how a lot of influencers are worried about "doing sustainability wrong." I talked about how the climate crisis is not the fault of individual consumers. The blame is squarely on the fossil fuel industry, which has known for decades that its products are the major contributors to global warming. I also underscored that #onegreenthing isn't about the math of an "individual carbon footprint," which is a concept developed by BP in an effort to shift blame to consumers. Of course we'll get some things wrong as the science changes and we learn more. But our individual actions - especially for an audience of Influencers, are drivers of the necessary culture change for big climate policy and market solutions. So be vulnerable and try your best. Your daily practice of sustainability can inspire others get involved.
Climate anxiety is a global phenomenon & we must push for faster, bigger global commitments and meaningful action. The United Nations International School talk covered eco-anxiety and how to give the next generation hope that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved. The guiding theme of our conversation was making sure young people know that they are not alone in climate action.
We've returned home to the reality of: WHAT NOW?
As we head to COP-27 in November, UN Secretary General António Guterres, says that "climate action must be THE top global priority."But what can individuals do if we don't work for a global leader or run a fortune 500 company?
The answer is simple: Get involved.
Join the OneGreenThing movement.
Buy the book or check it out of the library.
Take the Service Superpower Assessment.
Make a pledge to yourself, your family, and our world that you can begin taking small steps each day that will influence culture change.
As we saw the tragedy unfold in Florida and South Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, we know that more climate-fueled disasters are on the way. It' s time for all of us to get involved, leverage our unique talents, and take daily action to create a healthier, greener, more just future.
We CAN solve the climate crisis. We CAN create a beautiful, regenerative world. Our future loved ones are counting on us.