2014 People’s Climate March NYC 20 (by Stephen Melkisethian)
2014 People’s Climate March NYC 20 (by Stephen Melkisethian)

As 2015 draws to a close, our global leaders offer humanity a parting gift to take into the New Year and the years there after – a “historic turning point”, a global agreement to tackle climate change. Finally.

Only after two decades of hashing it out, year after year, behind closed doors. The powers that be have accepted the facts and are handing out the marigolds, ready to begin collectively tidying up the man-made mess we have gotten ourselves in. A mess that has only grown worse each year that negotiations have failed to come up with an agreeable action plan. Scientist now warn that we stand scarily close to the threshold of climatic disruption so severe that global civilisation will be lucky to survive Mother Nature’s backlash in the years to come.

However, lest we forget that this year started with news just as (if not more) encouraging as the Paris agreement. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that in 2014 global emissions of greenhouse gases had ‘stalled’ despite continued global economic growth. This suggests the link between emissions growth and economic growth may have finally broken. It marks a critical goal reached years earlier than anyone had expected.

As author of Atmosphere of Hope, Tim Flannery wrote in The Guardian: ‘The IEA figures tell us that our billions of collective actions have added up to something massive. They have seen many developed nations pass peak oil and coal demands as our cities and farms become ever cleaner and more efficient.’

The fact that our small individual actions have totalled up to a major result needs to be shouted from the rooftops. This has happened in the space of 5 years. A quarter of the time it has taken our world leaders to shake hands and nod heads in an agreement. Samantha Smith from WWF stresses, that the Paris agreement will only take us so far:

We need now to see the action on the ground – nationally at all levels, with all the stakeholders, businesses, civil society, workers, we need a just transition to renewable energy. This agreement gives us a framework to do it. It does not give us the immediate actions yet that we need to do it. That is going to be up to everyone to deliver.
If we are to overcome the challenges that the future presents and face the giants that clasp climatic catastrophe in the palm of their hands – then knowledge, understanding and empathy needs to cut through opposing tensions that cause divides and segregation. From top level to grassroots, from the workplace to the home. We need to learn how to move and work together like organisms, so that innovation can spread fast, translate to diverse groups and inspire collective action.

We feel that our understanding of how innovation successfully moves from incubation into the mainstream is not as enriched as it should be. Do we truly understand how to translate our online connectivity into real time collaborative action? Networks of real life collaboration, support, influence and trust still remain largely invisible. How much of our digital behaviours truly translate to our everyday lives, face to face interactions, working relationships and ultimately influence significant behaviour change?

Technology has offered us the means of becoming more connected than ever. Hits, views, shares and likes give us a new way of measuring the power and impact of our creativity. They provide new insights into how our minds work and what really resonates with us or sparks our imagination as a global community. The Internet has rapidly grown in political importance and played a significant role in many mass mobilisation efforts; making it easier to organise and disseminate ideas.

Many organisational structures that stand firm today often act like fences, shutting us off from each other’s imagination within the workplace. Particularly within long standing institutional workplaces such as public services and places of education where imagination should be encouraged to roam freely and where collaboration, support and trust should be nurtured.

The Voist team have felt strongly for some time now that by visualising and mapping networks of working relationships we can start to better understand the mechanisms behind successful collaboration. We need to reveal network patterns to know where best to target intervention. By collecting and visualising network data we can highlight the strengths, vulnerabilities and the information flows that make up these networks. Using the information that these maps offer us, we can plot out routes around lessons of the past and signpost new lessons for the future.

The Paris climate summit
The Paris climate summit

As we edge closer to a time that will demand collaboration like never before our connections will act as the bridges that allow knowledge and innovation to cross boundaries, borders and climb those fences. From top level to grassroots, from large-scale movements to small local behaviour changes; it is key that we understand the mechanisms behind successful collaboration. If the Paris Agreement signifies anything it is that we now stand as a global community, acknowledging that we must collaborate to overcome. As Smith stresses and the IEA figures highlight – it is in our billions of collective actions that contribute to significant change. It is on all of us to deliver on this, each of us are leaders in our own right and we cannot wait another 20 years for our official leaders to put their money where their mouth is. We can all be the change we wish to see in the world.