5 climate experts reveal what’s in store for sustainability in 2023
Why there’s hope and how we can help
By Jenny Ringland
Hope is the antidote to climate anxiety, but what happens when staying positive about the state of the climate and its pathway (or lack thereof) to a regenerated world starts to become too hard? This is how I felt at the end of 2022, disillusioned and worried there was a growing lack of desire to keep moving forward.
Creating a more sustainable future is complex and nuanced, there is no clear pathway and it’s going to take a wide and extremely diverse range of passionate individuals, scientists, governments and global businesses collaborating to make it happen.
So, I put it to the people asking five sustainability experts, all leaders in their industries for their take on what their communities were feeling. With an increasing spotlight on greenwashing intersecting with a need for brands and individuals to share their sustainability journeys, it turns out 2023 is shaping up with meaningful environmental impact in store.
Here’s what five sustainability experts had to say about sustainability trends for 2023.
Chair, Clean Up Australia
“It’s been a tough couple of years for Australia, we’ve not only had a pandemic to deal with, but we’ve been hit by bushfires, floods and cyclones, we’ve seen increased pressures on our biodiversity and an ever-growing volume of waste leaking into our natural and marine environment,’’ Pip says.
“It’s important not to feel defeated but to refocus our efforts on the circular economy and our part to play. Don’t underestimate your power! From picking up rubbish on a beach, to making informed purchasing choices, to recycling properly and reducing our food waste – there’s myriad ways to make tweaks to help reduce the impact of waste. You can also join national initiatives like Clean Up Australia Day on March 5.!”
Founder, Purpose Conference
Sally’s take is those who have been working in sustainability for long periods are feeling tired, generally speaking there is an upward shift in motivation to make systemic change.
“I think there is deep concern about our environment and the climate. We’ve seen the impacts, we know it’s not going away, we know that there is not enough action being taken,’’ Sally says.
“It’s a scary time for humans at the moment and I think we’re all feeling it! At the same time, there’s so much hope and energy being generated by the vast number of creative solutions entering our markets and our conversations. On the whole I think people are more alert and there is more activity around solutions than ever before.”
Co-founder and Chief Policy, Impact, and Government Affairs Officer, Global Citizen
The way we behave as a collective has the potential to create a sustainable future, says climate activism platform Global Citizen co-founder Michael Sheldrick.
“We should never doubt the power of our collective voice, because a green future is entirely possible. Australians know the effects of climate change as well as anyone. My generation, for example, grew up in a drought. For decades our farmers have been on the front lines, and communities nationwide have been devastated by bushfires and floods on an annual basis, ‘’ he says.
“At the end of 2022, The Australian Institute issued research indicating that concern about climate change remains at an all-time high, with 83 per cent of Australians citing climate change as a core factor making droughts and floods more common.
“There’s no doubt Australians feel a sense of urgency around this issue, and we have every reason to remain optimistic, because pivotal things are happening, and policy is changing.”
Climate activist, founder of Environmental Music Prize
When Edwina founded the Environmental Music Prize in 2022 it was in response to a feeling of overwhelm regarding the enormity of the environmental issues currently facing humanity.
“In order to move people from apathy to action, we need to capture imaginations, energise and excite. We’ll achieve this by meeting people where they are, creating emotional connections with the natural world and having those they already admire connect the dots in a way that is easy, engaging and personally relevant,’’ Edwina says.
“Pop culture attracts and distracts, but it also provides us with a great opportunity to educate and inspire. Artists and bands are adored and trusted influencers (they are also collectively the most followed public figures on social media in Australia).
“Shining light on those who are using their platform as a force for good and empowering new voices to use their influence strategically, could help create a massive cultural shift that makes climate action cool and removes the social license of those degrading our vital ecosystems.”
Founder & director, VOLVO OCEAN LOVERS FESTIVAL
Anita’s passion for connection, community and ocean conservation has laid the foundation for her everyday activism, and for 2023 she is hopeful.
“The incredible ideas, science and technology I come across daily in my role inspire and motivate me to keep doing what I do. This is why we created the festival – to become a platform to connect the community with hopeful solutions and great ideas to inspire everyone to do better,’’ she says.
“From advances in the fashion industry introducing circular processes to reduce ocean impact like hoodies made of seaweed that can be thrown in your compost bin and thongs made out of algae. There’s a wine company with a mission to clean up the ocean that has removed over 18 million plastic bottles, to our naming rights partner Volvo Australia who is going all electric by 2026, and our new partners WeAre8, a purpose driven media platform in support of climate solutions and so much more.’’