Youth and inspiration unlocking the future
Putting the world on a more sustainable path is in everyone’s best interest, but no one has a greater stake in securing the future than our youth.
The good news is that we can create a world by 2050 where nine billion people thrive within the environmental limits of the planet. And these are truly exciting times. The coming decades will likely present humanity with bigger, graver challenges than anything previously encountered. We have a unique opportunity to shape a future where the planet thrives, where human creativity and collaboration can flourish and where society is equal, stable and prosperous.
But we must act now. We must look for new opportunities and solutions to the challenges we face. The sustainable solutions that will build our future societies are the missing pieces in the puzzle. No one has a greater interest in finding these than the youth.
Personally, I get a lot of inspiration from including young people’s ideas and minds in our daily challenge: how to create a sustainable future. Working with young and passionate people fills me with hope, confidence and inspiration that humanity eventually will be able to turn the great challenges we are faced with into opportunities and new solutions.
So let me share a recent experience with you.
How can we turn risks to opportunities and solutions?
With our Global Opportunity Explorer as a backdrop, this week we engaged 50 students at NTNU in Norway in a one-day brainstorming session. The main focus was to turn the UN Sustainable Development Goals into solutions. This year we focused on five goals: Clean energy, Sustainable cities and communities, Responsible consumption and production, Stop climate change, and Life under water.
DNV GL created and designed different tasks for students to work on, directly linked to one of the five sustainability goals.
The jury consisted of DNV GL Chief Sustainability Officer Bjørn Kj. Haugland and DNV GL – Business Assurance Digital Transformation Manager Benjamin Bjørge. They judged the students’ solutions across three categories:
- Best presentation, which the students voted 100% for the result
- Most innovative solution, which counted 50% vote from the students and 50% vote from the jury
- Best solution, which was decided by the jury 100%
The team who won the ‘most innovative solution’ saw a very non-traditional opportunity regarding the loss of coral reefs due to ocean acidification. Their solution included gene modification.
The team who won the ‘best solution’ was a cross-disciplinary team which focused on bringing people out of poverty. They developed a business case where solar panels are distributed in rural communities. Through generating their own power, communities have the opportunity to sell surplus power using smart contracts on a blockchain. This tackles one of the greater challenges of banking the unbanked, bringing opportunities to those who have the least.
The Missing Pieces
Opportunities and solutions bridge the distance between our understanding of the risks and challenges ahead and visions of where we would like to go. When we include sustainability in our definition of true opportunities for businesses and societies, we will fill the missing pieces. This means we can make real and valuable contributions to peoples’ lives, instead of prioritizing short-term profit.
I have great hope in young leadership to fill in the missing pieces.
The Global Opportunity Explorer 2019 Insights report was published on the 6th of February. It is published by Sustainia and DNV GL with support from the UN Global Compact. With a selection of solutions across six sectors directly exposed to climate change, the Global Opportunity Explorer 2019 Insights demonstrates that even when the risks are great, the opportunities are greater still. Global Opportunity Explorer 2019 Insights is a testament to the ongoing activities of the Global Opportunity Explorer, which is now the world’s leading open ecosystem for sustainable solutions. The platform is the first of its kind that identifies, verifies, and presents high-quality solutions that exist in the market.
All images credit: Ronny Manuel Danielsen