Resilience Lab at COP26

Highlights from Resilience Lab

4 November 2021 | Glasgow, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Lifelong Learning for Environmental Stewardship

On Thursday, 4 November 2021, the Resilience Lab at COP 26 showcased its second pathway to a resilient future, tackling lifelong learning for environmental stewardship. This pathway asserts that for humans to live up to their collective responsibility as the custodians of a planet that sustains all, each must embark on a lifelong journey of learning, incorporating indigenous wisdom, to create a shift in global consciousness and reawaken the sense of belonging to nature.

Highlights from the Resilience Lab
The opening session to Thursday’s pathway

Tia Kansara, CEO, Replenish Earth, introduced the topic of environmental stewardship as the theme for the day. Encouraging participants to go beyond the traditional boundaries of education, she persuaded participants to explore the different potential routes to an entirely novel way of thinking. To do so, she said, humans must let go of lifetimes of structured thinking and create a blank canvas on which to paint an entirely new mindset. She posed the following questions: How can humanity accept that what they have learned in the past might not serve them for the future?; and How can a person remain open to imagination, curious about new ways of living and unhindered by behavioral norms? Kansara requested participants to personally examine what they felt they needed to unlearn and relearn to shift their thinking towards a more resilient frame of mind. During the discussion, some participants expressed the desire to identify the difference between wants and needs. Kansara then added the concept of scale, querying how one can move from an individual change of perspective, to a larger paradigm shift encompassing the “world’s thinking.” Participants also discussed society’s definition of success linking this to challenges associated with values based on economic growth. Some shared that we need to challenge the flaws in thinking which have arisen from attributing monetary value within natural capital systems.

The next session was a workshop led by Kirsten Dunlop, CEO, Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community (Climate-KIC) and Barna Barath, Supervisory Director of Climate-KIC. The workshop focused on self-transformation towards environmental stewardship to tackle the challenge of adaptation resilience. Dunlop queried the way humans structure their thinking and how an unwillingness to be vulnerable limits their ability to plunge into the unknown. She opened the discussion by asking about how current systematic thinking restricts societies’ capacity to expand their space of perception. Participants highlighted capitalist ideologies about humans having dominion over nature as being partly responsible for failed social environmental stewardship. Barath explored participants’ perception of environmental stewardship, asking what it meant to them. Some defined it as a way to envision a sustainable, inclusive future: one which cannot divide the “stewards” from the “others.” However, others queried the ownership of the vision, opining that a one-size-fits-all utopia cannot exist. Dunlop stated that our collective trauma inhibits us from thinking about our collective approach and promotes the “self” as priority. She guided participants in group exercises to demonstrate that no matter how seemingly disconnected from the group individuals may be, their actions will always influence, as well as be influenced by, the collective.

Kirsten Dunlop, CEO, Climate-KIC, addressing the participants
Kirsten Dunlop, CEO, Climate-KIC, addressing participants

Shu Liang, Leader and Team Member, Day of Adaptation, moderated the  final session of the day which discussed environmental stewardship storytelling. The panel consisted of Felicia Jackson, University of London, Joshua Amponsem, Climate Activist, and Sandra Piesik, Architect and Technological Transfer Researcher. They spoke about how vital storytelling is when understanding not just the greater global ecosystem, but also our inner microcosm. The panel also addressed the need to connect the individual to the cooperative, technology, nature, and science vs. tradition. Amponsem stressed inclusive, representative narratives as being at the heart of environmental stewardship. The panel called for new methods of harvesting knowledge from the true stewards of the environment, referring to traditional and indigenous knowledge that is being lost over time. In a subsequent question and answer session, participants spoke about shifting the narrative to one that penalizes the destruction of nature, and which reframes the current economic system. They strengthened this point by emphasizing that value is a bigger driving factor than money, and stories need to take on a more holistic approach to promote a supply chain that actually starts and ends with nature.

The panel from the third session
The panel from the third session. L-R: Shu Liang, Leader and Team Member, Day of Adaptation; Felicia Jackson, University of London; Joshua Amponsem, climate activist; and Sandra Piesik, Architect and Technological Transfer Researcher.

Countless challenging questions were raised when addressing environmental stewardship, with some answered, and others leading to new questions. The organizers of the Resilience Lab noted that this counts as a successful day as it relates to a shift in everyday thinking. They welcomed a moment of reflection to investigate our inner and outer worlds, our present and past, and a new path to a better future.

On Friday, 5 November 2021, the Resilience Lab will discuss the third of the eight Resilience Frontiers pathways towards a regenerative future: universal, equitable coverage of, and open-access to, (big) data and information. The programme of events is as follows:

Resilience Lab Day 4 Programme of Events
Resilience Lab Day 4 Programme of Events

For more information about the Resilience Frontiers at COP 26, the programme of events and any updates, visit their website, and follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

The audience, including XX, participating at the event
The audience, including Jassim Abdulaziz al-Falahy, Iraq’s Ministry of Environment, participating at the event.

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