What we learned from 2021: All can contribute!

What we learned from 2021: All can contribute!

2021, another year of highs and lows, and what better moment than January to reflect and re-evaluate?!  COP-26, natural disasters, the Shell trial, moving away from fossil-fuels, champions of the Earth Award: 2021 was another year of high highs and low lows. Spoiler alert: hope is not lost, and we are, slowly but surely, moving in the right direction! 2021 showed that action, teamwork and effort do pay off. But running the next lap a bit faster is most certainly welcome. 

Let’s set-up for success in 2022 and look back together on our 2021 sustainable recap! 

1. Just start climbing the climate mountain 

This past November the planet gave us a final reminder to what’s at stake. Just days before the most important summit about sustainability was going to take place, mother nature played a trick. Glasgow, the host of COP-26, flooded. Roads submerged in water, trains were cancelled, homes damaged, etc. It was not a great start to an event that would have the whole world watching.  

But what did we learn from this crucial climate summit? The big picture shows that we are slowly getting better. Are we there yet? NO. Are we going fast enough? NO. But at least we are starting to move our behinds in a more sustainable direction.  And that is so important to remember. Nowadays, it is easy to get lost in the negative, in doomsday thinking. We are trying to relearn our habits, to work together with our planet instead of trying to show who’s boss. But do we need to pick up the pace and do even more? Yes, 100%!  

So, our suggestion for resolution 1: Start ACTING! Don’t get blindsided by all the misery that is shown but get your company in motion! The time is now, not next week, but now. Even small changes can start a snowball effect. Don’t try to be perfect, but make sure to start.   

2. Teamwork makes the dreamwork 

As much as we need to highlight the good, nature feels like we still need reminders on just how important it is that we change our ways. And sadly, that means that more and more natural disasters are appearing at a speed that is sometimes too fast to wrap your head around. From flooding’s, to wildfires, to animal extinctions, etc. Our planet is in crisis. The “western world” often still has a hard time taking issues seriously until it hits home. When the floods ruined parts of Belgium this summer, reality struck. Climate-change is not some far-off thing anymore… 

That brings us to resolution number 2 for 2022: The climate crisis is not a ‘them’ problem. Gone are the days of pointing fingers and shifting all the responsibility to others. Teamwork makes the dreamwork! And yes, that means, all doing our part! 

3. Be the change we love to see 

The latter was shown past spring. When a court in the Netherlands ruled that oil giant Shell had to reduce its carbon emissions by 2030 by 45%. It was the first time that a company had been legally obliged to align its policies with the Paris climate accords. This was a great example of the team spirit mindset. You must act with the global interest at heart.  

Resolution number 3? Don’t just follow the rules, move them! Adapt your business to be a front-runner when it comes to climate and environmental issues.  

4. Efforts big or small, we love them all 

It is not all heart-breaking and bad news. They are often not told as extensively as the sad stories, but 2021 knew some good news as well! For example, the fact that for the first time ever, we Europeans bought more hybrid or electric vehicles than we did fossil-fuel ones! A perfect example of how we are slowly making the transition towards more sustainable way of transportation. Is it the golden ticket? No, but you bet your sweet behind that it is a great step in the right direction! 

Resolution number 4? The little things add up to 1 big thing! It is easy to think that your company’s contribution won’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things, but trust us, it really does! It is not always talked about or highlighted by the media but doing your part pays off!  

5. No need to reinvent the wheel 

Beyonce was right: Who run the world? Girls! It was an all-female podium this year at the Champions of the Earth award. Every year the UN Environment Programme, UNEP, celebrates individuals, groups, and institutions that fight for our climate. It is the UN’s highest environmental honour! 

The Prime minister of Barbados, a group of Indigenous women, a scientist, and an entrepreneurial environmental activist; the 2021 award winners had one thing in common: they all said, “enough is enough” and took matter in their own hands, on behalf of people and the planet.  

Our final resolution? To say it in the words of the agency’s Executive Director, Inger Andersen: “The winners’ profiles demonstrate that all of us can contribute.” She added: “Every single act for nature counts. The entire spectrum of humanity has both a global responsibility and a profound opportunity. This year’s Champions are women who not only inspire us, but also remind us that we have in our hands the solutions, the knowledge, and the technology, to limit climate change and avoid ecological collapse.” 

So, to sum up: No more excuses in 2022! 

Marie Caerts

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