Having the opportunity to spend the day at the Leading Change forum at GLOBE was such an honour and truly impacted how I view the interconnected nature of the world around us. As a person who usually approaches sustainability through the lens of environmental and social activism, it was eye-opening to examine topics I felt familiar with through a more business-oriented perspective. Having the opportunity to communicate directly with those who are making large-scale decisions surrounding the actions of companies and governments helped me to understand the complexity of balancing the fine line between economic growth and sustainability promises.
Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the forum was Nicholas Parker’s words during his keynote towards the end of the day. During forum panels, much of our focus had been directed towards the actions of companies when it comes to sustainability in product distribution and recycling initiatives, but I felt a shift in this outlook as I heard the words, “sustainability is not part of the equation…it is the equation”. It was just as important for us to examine the impact of our choices on communities where resources were being sourced from as it was to look at where our waste was going. Like an equation, everything in the world around us is interconnected and influences everything surrounding it, and we must be aware of the larger scope of our influence on the global community when discussing sustainability in forums like this one.
To have the opportunity to share space with so many young leaders and learn from their experiences was one of the most integral aspects of the forum for me. I had the privilege of attending a workshop on job accessibility for youth, and the discussions we had really opened my eyes to how barriers like a lack of access to housing or sanitation can get in the way of those who are trying to find jobs through community programs. Throughout the day, I found beauty in how the youth I was surrounded by examined the world around them in a way that was so different from what I knew. Yet, I could not help but shake a sense of overwhelming privilege when it came to my attendance at the conference.
I thought of the barriers that are in place when it comes to conferences and events like this one, and how they impact who has the privilege to have their voice heard. Much like how my participation in Students on Ice happened because of the kindness and generosity of the Leacross Foundation, my ability to attend this forum was all due to the support provided by Students on Ice for me to attend as a delegate. I could not help but to think of all the diverse voices that may have been unintentionally excluded from the conversations we were having due barriers of cost and physical geography, among other factors.
It truly was a privilege to have the opportunity to connect with like-minded youth across different fields, and to have the chance to view sustainability from a different angle. I feel so honoured to have had the opportunity to share not only my voice and perspective, but to also learn from others from all around our global community. I cannot wait to reconnect with those who I had spoken with before the forum and to continue engaging in meaningful discussions surrounding sustainability with the newfound insights that I gained from this experience.