At and& festival, we are building an interdisciplinary space where curious minds merge, in the quest for answers to the big problems of our time. Because all good answers start with good questions, we’ve come up with 21 questions for the 21st century.
This week’s question: ‘Our behavior changed the climate. Should we change our behavior?’ With confirmed speakers: Salvador Gómez-Colón, Anuna De Wever, Timothy Morton, Hans Bruyninckx and Mark Sultan Gersava.
The truth comes out of a child's mouth. This expression seems more accurate than ever, in times where the status quo is widely questioned and young changemakers stand up for their future and that of the planet.
Not only words, but actions is what young innovator Salvador Gómez-Colón called for in TIME Magazine and at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“In our moments of crisis, empathy doesn’t mean merely feeling for others. It requires turning our emotions into positive actions, with the common purpose of supporting each other.”
- Salvador Gómez-Colón
Gomez-Colon is easily the youngest climate advocate of the and& conference. He created the Light and Hope for Puerto Rico-campaign, which distributed solar-powered lamps and hand-powered washing machines to over 3,500 underserved families after the devastating Hurricane María.
Another face of the young and concerned climate generation is Anuna De Wever. She stood up as the leader of the student protests in Belgium in 2019, following the actions of her great example Greta Thunberg. With Anuna we will look back and forward in time. Did the protests finally help people and politicians to change their behaviour? And do we need more than behavioural change to save the climate?
The future is done for and by young innovators, like Salvador and Anuna. For sure, we can’t keep on blaming the industry, multinationals, marketing, algorithms, capitalism, neoliberalism, only to avoid taking a good look into the mirror. Knowledge and ideals only aren’t enough to innovate for the better.
Philosopher Timothy Morton are big opponents of the way we currently address climate change. Morton believes that we have to get away from preaching and rather acknowledge that the much-feared global catastrophe has -in fact- already occurred. We’re not only driving global warming and ecological destruction; we know that we are.
‘We are condemned to live with this awareness at all times,’ Morton said in The Guardian. ‘Now, doing just about anything is an environmental question, as mundane as watering the lawn or chatting about the weather.
As we enter a new phase in the history of the planet, we must wake up to the fact that we never stood apart from, nor controlled the non-human things on the planet, but have always been thoroughly bound up with them. We can’t even burn, throw or flush things away without them coming back to us in some form, such as harmful pollution.’
Social entrepreneur Mark Sultan Gersava makes it crystal clear that we have to come to terms with mother earth. He grew up in poverty as one of the 12 sons of a farmer in the Philippines. His social enterprise Bambuhay now helps farmers shift from slash-and-burn agriculture -which accounts for about a third of deforestation in the Philippines- to growing bamboo, now in demand as an alternative material to throw-away plastic. Raising awareness for sustainable innovation and funding is key at and&.
They get the support of Hans Bruyninckx, director of the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen. Bruyninckx publically rang the alarm for Belgium, being far behind with the European climate goals for 2030. Currently the EEA analyses the need and potential for a shift to a circular and sustainable approach to our use of plastics. Plastics are a growing environmental and climate concern. With images of face masks in our marines, and tons of packages for each home delivery, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified public attention for the plastic waste crisis we face. In the 21th century we might think twice before ordering another diner on Uber eats.
As a matter of fact, change and innovation can start everywhere: at home, at work, in the city, in the countryside. It’s rather our daily hard-headed habits we are well attached to. The pandemic has already up-ended people’s routines dramatically; let’s further broaden the horizon of our bubble and change for the better.
Keep an eye on our channels for the reveal of new names and future-proof questions for the 21st century.
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