What is your most surprising prediction about cities?
Maybe not a prediction, but this is my hope: That we put as much investment and enthusiasm into finding nature-based solutions for the cities of the future as we do for tech. The world is in a love affair with tech at the moment, and there are many good reasons for that. But nature has the potential to make cities more resilient, healthier and livable in a way that tech doesn’t. Let’s not lose that as we design for the future.
Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think about cities and technology?
Saul Griffith’s interview on The Ezra Klein Show. I had just decided to make a career change and move into the climate space, because I wanted to be able to look my kids in the eye and say ‘we knew this was the decisive decade and I did everything I could to effect positive change’. When I listened to Saul Griffith, it gave me such hope and comfort that the majority of the solutions to the climate crisis already exist, we just need to do the hard work of implementing them. We don’t tell that story enough.
What 2-3 books / podcasts would you recommend?
I love listening to The Energy Gang podcast. Stephen Lacey, Katherine Hamilton and Jigar Shah make complex issues around the energy transition easy to understand and, dare I say, entertaining.
Where’s the best place for new ideas?
Anywhere there are people not like you. Working in the climate space, where at some level you constantly feel like it’s a race against time, it’s easy to focus on getting things done. And getting things done often means working with people who view the world similarly to you, so you can move forward with the least resistance. We can’t let that be a crutch, and must seek out difference if we are going to create a just transition to a more abundant world for all.
Who inspires you?
The Solutions Project. I’m inspired by the work they do to support frontline leaders implementing solutions that meet the needs of communities facing the brunt of climate impacts. But I’m also inspired by their work changing the stories told about climate solutions. Building the narrative skills of their grantees not only compounds the impact of their work, but changes how and who society sees as the changemakers in this space. As we all know ‘Those who tell the stories, rule the world’
What are the skills we’ll need in 10 years?
We’re going to need to be better storytellers. We’ve spent the past 15 years telling everyone the world is on fire. We forgot to tell them amazing solutions exist and they can be part of creating and implementing those solutions. That the solutions to climate crisis can result in a world of abundance, not sacrifice. We forgot that stories matter, and the danger of the Single Story. So from now into the next decade, we need to prioritize stories and a much richer diversity of storytellers.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Find the thing that makes you both scared and excited when you wake up each morning. Make sure the work matters. Don’t underestimate the importance of the people you work with. You’ll spend more of your life with your colleagues than anyone else so make sure you pick them well. And get ready to step up, because in 20 years the world is going to be on fire, literally and figuratively!
What is your call to action?
100% clean energy for 100% of the population, in the shortest time possible. It’s the mission of our parent organisation, the non-profit New Energy Nexus – and I think it perfectly embodies the urgency, positivity and inclusivity of what we must achieve.
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