I’ve written a lot about the concept of sustainable thinking over recent months, and I wanted to clarify exactly what I mean when I use this term. Many people seem to make the assumption that sustainable thinking requires everyone to think in the same way, when in fact, quite the opposite is true.
Because the last thing we need is more groupthink. Groupthink is what leads to sweeping ‘green policies’ that make very little difference, aside from helping to pacify the public by giving the impression that the climate change issue is being addressed.
The real meaning of sustainable thinking isn’t about everyone thinking in the same way, but rather everyone actively working together towards the same goal. What’s actually required is innovation, strategic risk taking and a genuine desire to want to protect the environment and change the world for the better.
And who better equipped to do this than the younger generation, to whom innovation, courage and taking risks come naturally?
So, rather than filling young people’s heads with doom-laden statistics and the constant fear of impending climate disaster, why not focus on inspiring them and equipping them with the tools and knowledge they need to ensure that their desire to protect the environment and change the planet for the better translates to long-term systemic change?
The younger generation have come of age during a time that has presented them a unique set of challenges — societal unrest, economic uncertainty and of course, the global pandemic have all dominated their formative years. And as well as shaping their attitudes and perspectives, this has in many cases limited their opportunities.
But this needn’t be a cause for division between young and old, but rather a unique opportunity to come together and work towards the common goal of bettering the world for the generations to come.
Younger people don’t need us to tell them what to think, they need us to invest in sustainable infrastructure that will enable them to unlock their full potential and translate their desire for positive change into meaningful action.
And this is the real meaning of sustainable thinking. It’s not some gimmick for corporations to use when they want to appear morally virtuous — it’s about meeting the needs of today without sacrificing the opportunities and living standard of the future generations. And this requires us all to think and work in a profoundly different way that doesn’t strip the planet of its most important resources.
It’s not about groupthink, or creating false divisions between different age groups and ideologies — it’s about communication and collaboration between worldwide governments, businesses and individuals. It’s about working together towards the same goal, focusing on the bigger picture rather than short-term monetary gain, and investing in the things that really matter.
And what could be more important or indeed sustainable, than investing in the young, the very people who will shape the world for the generations to come? All they need is human capital — this is the key to unlocking their potential, and it’s our duty as the older generation to provide them with it.