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Sustainability leaders' hopes and ambitions for the coming year

Sustainability leaders' hopes and ambitions for the coming year
What are your hopes for 2015? We ask leading lights from sustainable energy, money, farming and more about the change they want to see in the world over the coming year.

Nick Dearden, director, World Development Movement

Nick Dearden, director of WDMAfter 45 years as the World Development Movement, in January we’re rebranding as Global Justice Now. My wish for the new year is not only to avoid hiccups, but that we can really start moving people away from ideas of pity and charity which still play a massive role in how people think about the global South. Five years on from the financial crash, it’s become so clear that our paths towards a better society must come together. If we can play a small role in bringing the anger of Occupy and those fighting austerity together with some of the inspirational movements around the world struggling for control of their resources and societies – then can we really start changing things.

“The battle against TTIP is actually a global battle, which is trying to curtail corporate power. It’s a struggle for democracy and our rights. And we can win.”
Nick Dearden, Director, World Development Movement
At the centre of 2015 for us is going to be the battle against the controversial EU-USA trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Cameron wants to push it through before the end of 2015, but there’s an incredible array of trade unions, NGOs, consumer rights groups and activists across Europe who are going to stop that from happening. In 2014 TTIP went from being an obscure, ignored acronym, to being a rallying cry for democracy over corporate power. In 2015 we need to protect vital public services and a whole raft of environmental and labour regulations by ensuring that TTIP doesn’t get signed ever. The battle against TTIP is actually a global battle – because it is one of many trade agreements being negotiated – which is trying to curtail corporate power. It’s a struggle for democracy and our rights. And we can win.

www.wdm.org.uk

Jamie Hartzell, founder and chair, Ethex

Jamie Hartzell, Founder, EthexEvery Christmas, as I go from shop to shop looking for the perfect presents, I’m overtaken by a crisis of consumer confidence. Can any gift ever express the love I feel for my family? Do they even want more stuff? Each year I ask the family, can’t we do something more meaningful this year? But asking the question is as far as we get, before we slip back into the traditional wrapping of presents and cooking up a massive meal.

“In 2015, I’m wishing for a complete attitude shift in how we think about money.”
Jamie Hartzell, Founder and Chair, Ethex

This year I find one of the most difficult ever. Don’t get me wrong, I love the chance to eat drink and be merry in the glow of my family. But it’s the reliance on the comforts of excess that bothers me, at a time when inequality in the world is at its worst and in the UK austerity is set to deepen, with more and more people relying on food banks for their next meal.

So in 2015, I’m wishing for a complete attitude shift in how we think about money. I’m tired of talk about about my money and your money and if we all have enough, I want to see a national debate on our money, and what it means to us as a community and a society. What do we need money for anyway, and is it making the world a better place?

These days, we seem to have forgotten that we invented money, just like we invented Christmas. Isn’t it time we revisit its role in society and consider what we can do to make money work for the greater good?

www.ethex.org.uk

Read more: Jamie Hartzell on the rise of positive investment

Jeremy Leggett, founder, Solarcentury and SolarAid

Jeremy Leggett2015 is a year of huge opportunity for everyone who dreams of an escape from the climate-change trap. Powerful forces seek to keep the world locked into dependence on carbon fuels. But the energy incumbency is finally losing ground. Rising costs mean they are finding it more difficult to raise investment for development of new carbon-fuel reserves, and to keep investors interested in holding shares in carbon-fuel companies. At the same time, falling costs in key clean energy technologies are making an alternative, clean, energy future seem more feasible, and attractive to investors. Meanwhile, at the long-running climate negotiations, more than a hundred governments now want total decarbonisation to be a target in the climate treaty they have pledged to negotiate at the Paris Climate Summit in December 2015.

“Powerful forces seek to keep the world locked into dependence on carbon fuels. But the energy incumbency is finally losing ground.”
Jeremy Leggett, founder, Solarcentury and SolarAid
I have campaigned on climate change for a quarter of a century, in one way or another. I view both working in the environmental movement, as I did from 1989 – 1996, and working in the solar sector, as I have from 1997 to the present, as forms of climate campaigning. In all this time I have never seen progress of the kind I saw in 2014, or can realistically expect to see in 2015. My new year’s resolution is to redouble my efforts to help governments succeed in Paris. I will be stepping back from some things I do, in order to campaign in a more focussed way: targetting the weaknesses of the carbon-fuel incumbency, and the strengths of the clean alternative, hopefully more efficiently than I have been able to do hitherto.

This, after all, is a make or break year. Those who dream of winning the carbon war, and who are lucky enough to have the space in their lives for direct engagement, have a big responsibility. I want to do all I can to fulfill mine.

www.solarcentury.com

Read more: Jeremy Leggett on the pending crisis in the energy industry

Helen Browning, chief executive, Soil Association

Helen Browning
2015 has been designated as the International Year of Soils by the UN, so this is a great opportunity for us to focus attention on this neglected issue, and help people understand why we are called the Soil Association! With over 25% of cropland now massively degraded worldwide and with Sheffield University warning the UK will only have 100 harvests left if we don’t change our ways very soon, nothing could be more important. Yet organic farmers are doing many of the things that help soils thrive – using techniques that should be widely taken up by all farmers. We will be working to both improve organic techniques even further and sharing our learning with non-organic farmers too. We need policy makers to take soils seriously and we need the wider public along with farmers, gardeners and allotment growers to help us raise the profile of this fundamental issue.

Some of our practical soils work will take place through our thriving Duchy Originals Future Farming Programme, which is all about supporting farmers and growers in their farm based experimentation – putting them in the driving seat of research, and upping our capacity to work on techniques to benefit productivity and the environment without using non-renewable inputs. At the heart of the programme are ‘field labs’, bringing farmers together to work out effective practical approaches to tackling challenges, supported by a researcher. I’ve been involved in one aimed at reducing antibiotic use further and it has been great! Some farms have cut their antibiotic use by 50%, and we have piloted a successful experiment with Japanese Peppermint oil to control mastitis. We’ve run over 30 of these now, and given away over £100,000 in research funding too, all thanks to the Prince of Wales Charitable Foundation.

“We need policy makers to take soils seriously and we need the wider public along with farmers, gardeners and allotment growers to help us raise the profile of this fundamental issue.”
Helen Browning, chief executive, Soil Association
Another highlight for 2014 is that we celebrated a million meals being served each workday in schools, universities, nurseries, workplaces, hospitals, care homes and restaurants across the UK through our Food for Life Catering Mark. This is an amazing achievement, and now we are aiming at two million….can we do it in 2015? Already, this is creating a great opportunity for organic, British, higher welfare and Leaf produce, as well as feeding people much more healthily.

Finally, Bristol is Green Capital in 2015, and the focus themes are food, nature, resources, transport and energy; while we are especially involved in the food element, all of these are of huge interest to us, and we will be doing our bit to ensure that the year’s a success. The goal of the food strand is that Bristol becomes the UK’s foremost Sustainable Food City; I think we all say ‘hear, hear’ to that!

www.soilassociation.org

Read more: Our interview with Helen Browning

Anna Guyer, founder, Greenhouse PR

Anna Guyer, Founder, Greenpeace PRLike many people in the environment sector, I would describe myself as a willful optimist. So when I look forward to 2015, I am hopeful that this could be a year of transformational change. I think we have reached a tipping point, with a growing consensus on the science of climate change and with the recognition among many that we need to take affirmative action to build a fairer and more sustainable global economy.

“I would describe myself as a willful optimist. So when I look forward to 2015, I am hopeful that this could be a year of transformational change.”
Anna Guyer, Founder, Greenhouse PR
I see hope in the form of major global institutions and foundations taking radical steps to shift their money and investment away from fossil fuels into clean green technologies. This year major foundations, including the Rockefeller Foundation, built on profits from oil, divested their money, in fact more than $30 billion was moved out of fossil fuels by these organizations, in the run up to the UN Climate Change Summit in New York this summit. When big pension funds and foundations and the worldwide group of churches move their investments, people start to take notice and to listen. Money talks.

I also see a growing community of people and organisations with inspiring stories of how we can create resilient and vibrant communities – from humble beginnings in Totnes in Devon, Transition Town movement has become a global phenomenon reaching more than 1,000 communities in more than 40 countries. This year positive investment in community renewables saw enormous growth with more and more people taking a stake in their own community power generation. And in demonstrations around the UN Climate Change Summit in New York hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in direct action to demand that the governments and officials take action on climate change.

We are at a tipping point in human history. If we don’t take action this year at the big COP 21 meeting in Paris we are doomed. And so, as an eternal optimist and as a champion of entrepreneurs and pioneers eager to create the change we need to see, we see solutions, innovations, creativity, new jobs, creating in building and supporting a new clean green economy, with the opportunity to create happier, more vibrant and resilient communities. Roll on 2015!

www.greenhousepr.co.uk

http://colour-of-money.co.uk/new-years-wishes/