The voices of Youth

The first session of the second day of Globe Forum was entitled – Can Innovation Save us? and it included perspectives from four young people who are, each in their own way agents of change. Paddy Cosgrove’s perspective on innovation was that it is really all about tearing up the rule book. He shared historical examples of ‘throwing out the rulebook’ from Switzerland abolishing its entire patent system to Belgium ending its entire professional civil service. Paddy also referred to more recent examples of unorthodox approaches that lead to radical innovation and rapid development, the most notable being the rise of South Korea.

Jakob Rutquist from Sweden followed by posing the question as who are WE and WHAT do we need to be saved from. He posed the different nature of the challenge in the developed world where we need to radically reduce already high emissions in contrast to developing countries that must deal with rapidly increasing emissions. Each problem requires a different approach. Jakob highlighted the need to use the recently created Green Planet Fund, that was established following the COP15 climate change conference  as a resource for helping to create and grow new markets that are forming for sustainable technology and making these markets the norm, not the exception.

Sarah Knight took yet a different tack and focused on the need for us to change our relationship to the planet. She pointed out that looking to technological innovation in isolation is being delusional. We need to fundamentally change our throwaway consumption-based lifestyles, reconnect with nature and innovate culturally and socially. This then, along with technology might save us.

Finally, Rory Monaghan emphasised the point that innovation can only save us, if we have the right innovators to do the innovation. He stated that we need technically skilled dreamers, scientists and engineers must lead the innovation process and generating more scientists and engineers needs to be a key focus. He mentioned that he was inspired to make a difference when I mentor of him advised him that Mechanical Engineers can change the world.

If you would like to learn more about these young entrepreneurs and the work that they do, you can read my earlier post here.


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