When young people take to the streets in significant number, there is usually a revolution of some type in store, history tells us. Revolutions belong to the young, we can say with some certainty if history is our guide. (Think: American Revolution, French Revolution, Civil Rights protests in the American South. Dramatic change followed these protests.)
So what to make now of four million young men and women flooding into the streets and plazas of large cities and local communities around the world to “protest” their views of “inaction on climate change challenges” by those adults in charge (government and business, especially).
In New York City, Rome, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Madrid & Barcelona, Montreal, Berlin, Vienna, and many other of the world’s cities, on September 20th hundreds of thousands of young people rallied in protest and called on leaders to protect our planet. There were marches, music, signs of all sorts, speeches, and other public expressions intended to draw attention to the dangers posed by climate change.
As symbol of the moment, climate activist Greta Thunberg (at age 16) boldly sailed over the seas from her home in Sweden (rather than take a jet airplane) to get to New York City for the celebration of Climate Week and the gathering of leaders at the United Nations General Assembly). In interviews she commented that she does not understand why world leaders would mock children and teenagers for acting on science that advances evidence that climate change is real – and dangerous for humanity and our planet.
But business is responding – and investors and the public sector, too. In one of the focus features we bring you this week, in the Harvard Business Review author Andrew Winston tells us what 1,000 CEOs really think about climate change and inequality. (We know Winston from his best-seller, “Green to Gold”.) He reminds us that nearly 200 CEOs working through the Business Roundtable (BRT) declared that business is no longer just about maximizing shareholder profit.
Many more hundreds of CEOs are in agreement and many are focused on climate change. Are we moving fast enough? A report from UN Global Compact and Accenture (“The Decade to Deliver: A Call to Business Action”) presents the views of more than 1,000 global executives on their views of sustainability. All of the large-cap company CEOs interviewed believe that sustainability issues are important to the future success of their enterprises. The biggest challenge is climate change.
This week our Top Stories are presented as snapshots of where we are as consumers, investors, government leaders and yes, business leaders, focus on sustainability and especially climate change matters.
An appropriate footnote: in rural Southwest Montana, a participant in the local rally by mostly young people had this to say in a letter to the editor of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in response to criticism of the young peoples’ rallies: “Climate change is not a political issue. It is a life or death issue. Our children are asking in what way school matters when our future is disintegrating before our eyes. Children have as much right and reason to march anyone. They march because they can still see possibility, opportunity and reasons to fight four just futures. Next time, maybe you should join us to understand what our kids are marching for.”
This is just the introduction of G&A's Sustainability Highlights newsletter this week. Click here to view the full issue.
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