The end of one year and the beginning of another is always a period of reflection, and an opportunity to refocus and start over with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. After a tumultuous 2016, this is now more important than ever.
There are many challenges facing the world in 2017, with climate change foremost among them. Rocky Mountain Institute CEO, Jules Kortenhorst sent me an encouraging note about not only the magnitude of the challenge ahead, but the hope we should feel. He quoted early Christian philosopher St Augustine:
“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”
With climate change, there will be tests to come from those who do not prioritise this crucial challenge. But hope springs from the rollout of the Paris Agreement, and the work of organisations such as RMI and the Carbon War Room to accelerate the global energy transition. Renewables are on the rise, businesses are realising the benefits of clean energy and emerging economies are taking the lead.
This area shares many themes with broader issues, which Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, has written beautifully: “how we counterbalance anger and hopelessness with radical hope and optimism”. Kofi Annan, in a new year’s message from The Elders, also had inspiring words of perseverance, as the world faces up to the upheaval of new leadership in the US, Brexit and elections in France, Germany, Iran and India.
“Whatever the outcome, these moments are an opportunity to ask clear, honest questions of ourselves and of our world. Have we done our utmost to prevent suffering? Have we put the greater good ahead of our own self-interest? Have we chosen our words with care, mindful of their impact on those who listen? Our world will face hard choices in 2017. People deserve honest explanations and answers from their leaders, not obfuscations given in bad faith. As Elders, we pledge to speak out clearly and boldly to help further the interests of our common humanity.”
I remain hopeful and excited, ready to meet the challenges of the year ahead. And I wish all of us just the right amount of anger to challenge the status quo, as well as the courage to become agents of change.