Leyla says that sustainability is the responsibility of all of us and individuals can have a huge impact. She says a “holistic and dynamic perspective” is key to solving the big problems of our time. She encourages us to understand the dynamics of the system first before approaching the problem with a solution. By doing this we are “avoiding blame, avoiding deflection”, which are the tools of inaction and manipulations of the narrative of sustainability proffered by the companies funding greenwashing campaigns, or focusing the narrative around climate change initiatives on purely energy, or “what we should and shouldn’t do”. Systems Thinking allows us to better understand the complexities of huge challenges, analyse complex relationships and design solutions that prioritise sustainable and ethical goals.
Sustainability, Leyla says, is about making sure that we harmonise the social, economic and environmental impacts of our actions rather than just prioritising the economic impact. Redesigning the linear economy and moving to a product systems model will restructure how we treat waste and stop us from perpetuating problems.
She explains how cognitive biases create patterns of behaviour and says we need to address cognitive biases, embrace change and act now. She concludes by encouraging us to rethink and reframe sustainability, understanding how it’s all our responsibility — “something we need to integrate into the DNA of everything we do, because ultimately, the challenges that are in front of us and not just climate change, or the next pandemic.”
Watch the original talk: Designing a sustainable future by Leyla Acaroglu