We live on a planet with over 7 billion people with a diverse scope of challenges from climate change to policy making, and as individuals, we often ask ourselves, how can we make an impact and can we really make a difference? Does our individual action really matter? We will try to give answers to this questions in this module.
The aim of this module is to help you understand how to make an impact on an individual level, in an organisational level, and a policy level. You will learn what it means to realise your impact and the different steps you need to take in each context to successfully implement climate actions.
The environment is a very broad subject. It covers everything from humans to food to biodiversity to pollution etc. As changemakers, we may want to make an impact on everything. However, this can be inefficient. Instead, you need to do is to find your focus in order to maximise your impact on the world around you.
Once you have found your focus, you need to realise how you fit into the broader society. You may be an individual but we live in an interconnected society. Our individual action does not only end within ourselves but it can also have an impact on the people around us. Understanding how you fit into society is important to recognise what kind of impact you can make.
Lastly, brainstorm what actions you can take to truly make an impact. What can you do? What change can you make? What kind of support you need? Who will be involved? And has someone have done it before?
Young people often feel like they do not have voices or their opinions will not be heard in an organisation as they are fairly junior compared to other experienced professionals. However, it is wrong to make those assumptions. Young people like you can make a huge difference, you just need to understand how.
The first step is to build your credibility. You cannot achieve change within an organisation as an outsider. Especially as a young person, there are a lot of stereotypes. Therefore, you need to prove your worth by doing your tasks well and being part of the team. The second thing is to do is research and observe how the organisation operates. You will need to understand how things work within the organisation to have a better grasp of what needs to change. Lastly, talk to the right people in the right language. Inspire people around you and get in front of the decision makers.
Politics is a very complicated domain. There are a lot of different people people with different agendas or priorities. Therefore, as an individual, ask yourself how can you make a difference at a policy making level?
First is to find the right person to talk to. It may sound an easy task but it is actually hard to find the right person. There are the politicians and the civil servants. Politicians are the people you vote for. They will most likely listen to you because it is part of their job. However, they do not have the technical expertise, they might know some things but not a lot. And there are the civil servants, they are the people working in the background to develop policies and they have the technical expertise.
Second, once you find the right person, be clear on what you want to propose and be constructive about it. Politicians and civil servants often hear criticisms and not solutions. What you will need to do is to offer solutions. Give examples and other resources about where a policy or program is being implemented including the costs and benefits of the overall solution.
And third, be human. We often forget that policy makers are human too. Be understanding and compassionate about how they feel and empathise with their needs because at the end of the day, we are all humans.
In order to fully realise our impacts, we must first find out what we are most passionate about and focus on our passion.
We live in an interconnected society therefore the impact of our individual actions does not end within ourselves. We have our certain spheres of influence.
You can use a Spider map to help organise your thoughts when brainstorming normally for a single theme or topic, for example: writing stories, papers, and research brainstorming.
You have to build your credibility and earn people’s trusts.
Do not forget to be humane and compassionate towards other people no matter what their position in the society.
Beginner: Using the space below, create a spider map of your sphere of influence
Intermediate: Think of an environmental topic you feel passionate about that is under threat, and an action you want to take to to support that topic. What are 3 benefits that will come from the action you want to take?
Advanced: Write down one action you can take today, one action you can take this month, and one action you can take this year that will contribute to a cause you believe in. Carry out these actions and help us follow along by tagging us on social media!
After watching the video of the module, we encourage you to think, reflect and learn about the following questions:
CO-FOUNDER & COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, SINTALI
UK / GREECE
Eleni is the co-founder and commercial director at Sintali, a company that quantifies and verifies the environmental impacts of decisions and help organisations map out the road to net zero. Prior to Sintali, Eleni worked at Thinkstep (now Sphera), a sustainability and software firm, where she led the sales and marketing for the UK and managed the EDGE Certification program. In 2018, Eleni founded Climate Four, a platform that provides individuals with necessary tools to take climate action. Eleni is also a trained Climate Reality Leader and a Global Shaper in the London Hub.