03.11.21

I want to stop frightening my kids, how about you?

By Rachel Brown

As a parent I only have one job. To give my children a future to look forward to.

I’m failing. We’re all failing.

“Mum, the future feels scary.”

My teenage daughter, yesterday.

I stopped in my tracks.

Behind her the news dished out the daily doom. Burning forests, dying seas. An onrush of chaos and collapse I’ve somehow got used to.

“Nobody is doing anything about it.”

She wasn’t angry. She was deeply worried, almost hopeless.

But that’s my job, I thought, feeling hurt. I am doing something about it. All the great work we’re doing at the Sustainable Business Network. Plugging companies into the low carbon waste-free circular economy. Helping businesses reduce their carbon emissions. Projects that regenerate nature and rejuvenate communities.

It’s then I realised that my real job is to give her a future that isn’t terrifying. And so far, I’m not succeeding.

The world’s ‘leaders’ in Glasgow right now are deciding my daughter’s future. Not in 100 years. In 10, 15. Will she feel safe enough to have children of her own? Will she face hardships like I’ve never experienced? Can she be happy? The signs are worrying.

We live in a global emergency of our own making. We can’t go on ‘balancing’ a destructive economy and what’s left of the environment. It shouldn’t be about what we’re willing to tolerate. We’re better than that.

Let’s be honest, the way we live now only really works well for a few, and it’s getting fewer. But we can turn that around. It’s just a choice.

Now is a time for coming together – not to imagine what’s tolerable, but to imagine what’s possible. We can evolve our way of life to restore and rejuvenate. We can delight in the scale of this rebirth.

We have the resources. There’s billions in investment money looking for work that does good. Many great ideas are already out there. We just need to connect the two. Not just around climate, but for biodiversity, for social reform, to reshape our whole way of life. We can do that, and we will.

We have a massive opportunity. We can change the course of history in our lifetimes to a course people for many generations will thank us for.

But we need to pull together.

I know I’m not willing to tolerate scaring my children. I’m willing to sacrifice almost anything but their future. And I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get us on the right track. And I know many of you are too.

If our Government doesn’t believe it has the mandate to make the right decisions, it’s on you and me. There’s no use complaining. We vote them in and we need to prove we mean action. We have to demonstrate that we’ll vote for our children’s future. We have to kick them into gear from the ground up. We have to make the right decisions, at home and at work.

At this point in history every single business in Aotearoa New Zealand should have a climate action plan in place. If yours hasn’t, start now. Every single business in this country should be doing something, anything, to support the regeneration of our landscapes and seas. If your business is in our network, then you’ve already started, with 5% of your annual fees going to tree planting. If your business hasn’t, do it now. I don’t care at this point if it’s with us, or with one of the many exciting regeneration programmes out there. If you have started, do more. Bring others with you.

We’re going to have to work together to build an entirely new economy, fast. One that my daughter and your children can live in. That’s what sustainability means – something that can go on, something we can be proud to pass on. We can’t go on in the way that we have. That’s the news now, every day.

I’ve decided. The world’s ‘leaders’ in Glasgow right now are not deciding my daughter’s future. I am.