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  • Writer's pictureJade Tang-Taylor

Exploring the interconnection of Climate, Tech, and Innovation

Paving the Way for a Sustainable Future. 

In a rapidly changing world, the interconnection and intersection of climate, technology, and innovation takes centre stage as we strive to create a sustainable future. The recent virtual panel discussion on Climate, Technology, and Innovation brought together experts who shed light on key themes that underscore the urgency and complexity of this global challenge.

In this blog post, we will delve into the key themes and insights shared by the speakers to explore the transformative potential of climate tech and innovation.

Speaker 1 - Pok Wei Heng: Climate Inequity Starts at Home

Our first speaker, Pok Wei Heng emphasises the importance of equity in the climate response, drawing attention to the local impacts of climate inequity and the varying resilience of different suburbs in the recent Auckland floods. 

Pok raises thought-provoking questions about the future of climate technology, focusing on electric vehicles (EVs) and carbon offsets. He acknowledges the demand for EVs but also highlights the complexities and consequences related to mineral use and urban design. They prompt the audience to imagine alternative futures where urban planning prioritises denser spaces and reduces reliance on individual vehicles. 

The ethical considerations of carbon offsetting, particularly the potential colonisation of indigenous land, are discussed, underscoring the need for trust-building and meaningful engagement with indigenous peoples. Pok emphasises the importance of partnerships, inclusivity, and the use of technology to democratise decision-making and address accessibility issues. His talk concludes with a powerful quote, highlighting the value of long-term thinking, respect for cultural wisdom, and a forward-looking perspective.

Overall, Pok advocates for equitable climate responses, critical examination of climate technology, consideration of alternative futures, ethical carbon offsetting practices, inclusive partnerships, and a sustainable, future-oriented approach to addressing climate challenges.

“And I'll end on a quote by Katie Paterson, which is my last slide…. Shortsightedness may be the greatest threat to humanity. To be human is to understand that we are a part of a long continuum. So let's embrace our cosmic context that lasts tens of thousands of years, respect our origins and our cultural wisdoms and the wisdoms in everyday life and hold our future close.“

Speaker 2 - Ian Short: A systems approach to climate innovation and technology

The second speaker, Ian Short highlighted the significance of applying a systems lens to climate innovation and technology. Ian stressed three key points. 

Firstly, solutions should be developed with an understanding of the wider system to help ensure they can deliver most value. Understanding how things work, or don’t work, now will support the identification of game changing solutions. 

Secondly, solutions need to consider holistic value, accounting for the interdependencies and impacts across different areas. It is essential to avoid solutions that benefit one aspect while causing harm in others. 

Finally, successful systems innovation requires collaboration and active participation from key stakeholders involved. By bringing together diverse perspectives and involving stakeholders such as designers, developers, policymakers, local authorities, and community groups, more inclusive and comprehensive solutions can be achieved and they are more likely to be successful.

“When we think and talk about systems innovation, perhaps the solutions we need are increasingly going to be those that require collaboration and active participation from the full diverse group of stakeholders within the systems that we're working in”

Speaker 3 - Saskia Verraes: The interconnected nature of climate, tech and social innovation.

The third speaker, Saskia Verraes emphasised the interconnectedness of climate, tech and social innovation. Saskia advocated for approaching climate technology and innovation with optimism, viewing ourselves as gardeners in an abundant landscape. Collaboration was also highlighted as a crucial aspect, with a focus on including marginalised voices in the transition. 

Saskia explored the meanings of "innovation" and "technology," emphasising their potential for restoration, renewal, and new ways of doing things. She expressed concerns about the harmful systems in Western societies and advocated for equal, just, and regenerative solutions. Mindset change and critical thinking were emphasised as important tools for designing a sustainable future. 

Saskia praised citizen science, crowd-doing, and grassroots initiatives as sources of incredible solutions. Amplifying the voices of local communities, indigenous knowledge, and grassroots efforts was deemed essential, emphasising the power of collective action.

In conclusion, Saskia calls for a collaborative and inclusive approach to climate technology and innovation, highlighting the transformative potential when diverse perspectives are valued and when solutions are designed with regenerative and equitable principles at their core.

“ One of the things that always comes up is, there are so many incredible solutions already out there, so many community indigenous ideas and other ways of creating solutions in a far more equitable way than the big solutions that are being promoted. But there is so much grassroots here also here in Aotearoa, New Zealand the things that we hear about as part of our as part of our courses, as part of ‘leading change for good’  and the things that are already happening are out there, and we need to give them voice, and we need to bring them together, and co-create a much bigger wave of change, and help each other to actually do that and create that climate innovation and technology together that creates those changes that we want to see ”

Key Themes:

As we reflect on these thought-provoking presentations & discussions, several key themes emerge:

Equity and Social Justice: All speakers emphasised the unequal impacts of climate change on marginalised communities, there is a call for inclusive solutions that address these disparities.

Systems Thinking and Holistic Approaches: Recognising the interconnectedness and complexities of the entire system, a shift towards a systems approach is advocated, looking beyond isolated projects and understanding interdependencies and impacts across various areas.

Collaboration and Inclusivity: Active participation and collaboration from diverse stakeholders, including policymakers, community groups, and indigenous peoples, are seen as essential for developing comprehensive and effective solutions.

Ethical Considerations and Indigenous Perspectives: Ethical dimensions of climate technology are highlighted, particularly concerning potential colonisation of indigenous lands through carbon offsetting. Engaging indigenous peoples and respecting their knowledge is crucial, emphasising ethical practices and amplifying marginalised voices.

Long-Term Thinking and Future Vision: A future-oriented perspective is encouraged, emphasising the role of climate tech and innovation in designing regenerative, sustainable, and just solutions. Taking a long-term view and considering the broader vision of the future are key aspects.

Overall, there were many poignant perspectives shared not only by our panellists but also by our wonderfully engaged attendees. They gave their thoughts, asked curious questions, and contributed key references and relevant links to the topics of climate, tech and innovation, as captured below:

The intersection of climate, tech, and innovation offers immense potential for shaping a sustainable future. Through this think-piece blog post, we have captured a few of the speaker highlights and explored the key themes that emerged from the virtual event, highlighting the importance of equity, understanding the complexities of climate technology, incorporating ethical considerations, fostering inclusivity, and embracing a long-term perspective. 

By navigating these themes thoughtfully and collaboratively, we can pave the way for transformative change and ensure a thriving planet for generations to come. Let's continue the conversation, spark new ideas, and work together to co-create a world where climate, tech, and innovation harmoniously co-exist. 

The possibilities are boundless, and I’m personally optimistic that our shared future is within reach.


Co-Written by:  Jade Tang-Taylor (Otter.AI & ChatGPT-4)

Originally published in academyEX

Date: May 2023

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