Rethinking Our Approach to Global Challenges Such as Climate Change

At the AREDAY IMPACT event, hosted by the American Renewable Energy Institute (AREI) in October 2023, Boulder, Colorado, a panel discussion titled “Observations from the United Nations” explored the actions needed to address climate action. Panelists included Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute, Jayashri Sarah Wyatt, Chief, Education Outreach at United Nations Department of Global Communications, and Dr. Ash Pachauri, Co-Founder of The Protect Our Planet Movement (POP).

The speakers emphasized the importance of love, compassion, and rethinking fundamental values to tackle climate change and promote human security for all, including marginalized groups and indigenous peoples. The conversation voiced concerns over the hindering effects of nationalism on productive debate and progress, advocating for a long-term shift towards self-evident truths guiding human security and inclusivity for all beings and the planet.

Dr. Ash Pachauri of the Pop Movement discussed the importance of youth action in addressing climate change. He highlighted the vision of the POP Movement, which was started by his late father, Dr. AR Pachauri, and emphasizes the need for a groundswell of action led by the 1.8 billion youth of the world. He mentioned the goals of the Paris Agreement and the small window of opportunity to achieve them, calling for mobilization of global governments alongside the participation of individuals and communities. Pachari introduced the concept of the POP Movement’s “youth can” approach, which emphasizes climate action guided by knowledge and the science of climate change.

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Pachauri also emphasized the importance of identifying local issues and solutions while mobilizing communities to amplify their voices and take ownership of the solutions. He highlighted the significance of equity and justice, particularly for the most vulnerable communities affected by climate change. Importantly, he acknowledged the role of indigenous wisdom and the need to shift our mindsets to take necessary climate action.

Jayashri Sarah Wyatt, reflected on the power of storytelling and how it can both malign and dispossess, as well as give back dignity and create new understandings. They share their personal experience of discovering that their family’s story of migration from Switzerland to Canada overlooks the fact that they settled on Native lands. On Indigenous People’s Day, they emphasize the importance of recognizing this history and engaging in the conversation of reconciliation. Wyatt also highlights the significance of storytelling within the UN and the need to listen to uncomfortable stories in order to transform consciousness and create a better world. She concluded by urging the audience to reflect on the stories they tell and to embrace other narratives that can help redefine and broaden their own understanding.

Jonathan Granoff discussed the concept of property and its relationship to the destruction of the natural world. He argued that our current understanding of property, rooted in Roman law and British common law, allows for the right of destruction. This mindset, he contends, has led to the exploitation of the global commons and the disregard for the future of the planet. Granoff also highlighted the origins of the nation state as a response to religious conflicts in the 17th century, and argue that the current global challenges require a reevaluation of the concept of security and a recognition of our interconnectedness with the natural world. Indigenous wisdom, he suggests, can provide valuable insights in this regard.

Granoff discussed the power of ideas and the need for love, compassion, and storytelling to bring people together and drive change. He emphasized the importance of going back to fundamental values and rethinking how we approach global challenges like climate change. Despite the urgency and rapidly closing window of opportunity, there is hope in the ability of humanity to come together and make a positive impact.

In a group discussion, the speakers expressed concern over the current international climate and the detrimental effects of nationalism. They argued that an obsession with nationalism is hindering productive debate and preventing progress. In the short term, the speakers suggest focusing on peaceful solutions and not allowing conquest or war to prevail. However, in the long term, they believe that the idea that certain truths are self-evident – should guide us towards human security and inclusivity for all. This expanding definition of human security, encompasses the wisdom of indigenous peoples and recognizes that our individual and collective well-being is interconnected with the health of the natural world.

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