Paul Hawken and Janine Benyus in Singapore

On my 1st day at work, my boss gave me a copy The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken (the 2010 edition- it was originally published in 1993). He said the book really changed his life.

To be honest, it wasn’t the easiest book to read. I remember re-reading the first few chapters and wishing someone else was reading the book to me. I also did not read much into what Paul does, and the Paul I knew was Paul the author.

Recently, Dot shared her workplace was involved in an event where the guest speakers were Paul Hawken and Janine Benyus. I shared it the boss and one of the things he said was “….He is kind of a hero of mine.” And I’m like OK, we shall go for this event (the boss couldn’t make it in the end). Hosted by Interface, the event focused on the learnings from nature’s models and how it can transform commerce to tackle climate change.

Am thankfuI I attended the event-  found it much more easier to pay attention to Paul the speaker!

Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author. His work includes starting ecological businesses, writing about the impact of commerce on living systems, and consulting with heads of state and CEOs on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy. –Source.

Janine Benyus is a biologist, innovation consultant, and author of six books, including Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. In Biomimicry, she names an emerging discipline that emulates nature’s designs and processes (e.g., solar cells that mimic leaves) to create a healthier, more sustainable planet.-Source.

My takeaways from the session:

  • Paul asked the audience “Who here doesn’t believe in climate change?” And no one raised up our hands. He then said if we truly understand the situation, we would have raised up our hands. Climate change, he pointed out, is not about beliefs- Climate change is happening, it’s scientific. I thought that was super sharp of him. And it also speaks about how we have been narrating the climate change story- that “climate skeptics or climate change deniers do not believe in climate change”, are in fact people who believe in climate change.
  • Paul shared this common question he gets “What is your hope for the future?” He shared in this concept of “hope” there is “fear” as well- We “hope” for something because we “fear” we cannot be certain we can achieve it. We need to be “fearless”. Here I am recalling the ST and Today articles and both had used the word “hope” and it’s making me a tad conscious about future articles or quotes.  In a way, language is an important tool in communicating any issues, and words like these can subconsciously shape how we view important topics like climate change and how it makes us feel- are we confident enough we can take control of the situation?
  • Paul and Janine highlighted in COP21 for example, we were calling out for a 2.0 degrees and 1.5 degrees. These are goals. What we need to tell people is what they need to do. They mentioned “drawdown” and shared Project Drawdown http://www.drawdown.org (Application for Fellows are open if anyone’s interested..)

    Project Drawdown describes when and how humanity can reach climate drawdown, the point at which greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere begin to decline on a year-to-year basis, by mapping and modeling how one hundred existing, substantive solutions can continue to scale over the next three decades. It’s making that information widely available in order to communicate a credible pathway to meaningfully address climate change, highlight how different segments of society are already taking action, and let people know that solving climate change is possible.

  • Janine presented a number of examples where nature’s designs were referred to or integrated in human design and architecture. Putting here a link to her website first- Biomimicry 3.8 Shall explore this over the weekend!

    Biomimicry 3.8 is the global leader in biomimicry innovation consulting, professional training, and educational program and curricula development. Our mission is to train, equip, and connect scientists, engineers, architects, educators, and other innovators to sustainably emulate nature’s 3.8 billion years of brilliant designs and strategies.

    The “3.8” in our name refers to the more than 3.8 billion years that life has been adapting and evolving to changing conditions on the planet since the very first life forms emerged. If you think about it, that’s a staggering and, in many ways, unfathomable amount of R&D which humankind can learn from, actively apply, and use to innovate for a better world.

    In the meantime, watch this TEDGlobal 2009 clip of Janine on Biomimicry in Action.

On this whole learning from nature and how we can adapt it in the climate solutions/ nature-based solutions, I guess it is pretty cool scientists, environmentalists, engineers, architects, government administrations can work together in creating and advancing these solutions.

There is this whole questioning of what is nature and if we are a part of nature or are we nature. And there’s this reframing of how we talk about climate change- from the stories of gloom and doom to stories in the lines of what can we do to overcome these challenges because we can solve them!

What’s important to note is of course there is no one size fits all solution to this. And there was this part of the sharing where Paul mentioned that the bits and pieces everywhere are all connected. Part of it reminded me of something spiritual, that we are all connected without us knowing it. Part of it reminded me on how ecosystems work, because that’s how it is- everyone can play a part/ has a role in the larger scheme of things.

Yep. I’m on track.

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