What a day! It is rare that you come away from an event and think, wow, that was really exceptional: we made a difference. However, reflecting back on our multi-party dialogue on the challenge of climate change recently, I think that all those who were involved have that sense of having participated in something quite different and really special.
The scene was set by our main guest, former UK government climate change ambassador, John Ashton CBE. He challenged us to reflect on who we really are, as individuals and as a species. What is it really all about? The participants were allocated randomly to interest groups, including oil producers, young people, Pacific Islanders, the EU, and other significant stakeholders. Viewing the day’s proceedings from the vantage point of a particular affected group resulted in all sorts of insights and challenges.
We explored the role of emotion and neuro-science in our understanding of how we act and react to difficult issues. There were fascinating contributions about dramatic species loss, climate modelling, the radical potential of solar energy, the challenges around fracking and carbon disinvestment, and the role of faith communities, citizens generally and young people. There was a marvellous rendition by our modern prophet, Alastair McIntosh, of an old island story about the laird and the fool, as he explored spiritual aspects and hope.
And there was a real sense of deepening understanding, collective humanity and empathy, recognition that this is not just about, and for, the "experts" and appreciation of the openness and frankness shown by those who spoke. Incidentally, such was the interactive nature of the event that nearly everyone did just that, speak!
It is but one event, one pebble in the pool. But, as we concluded in Margaret Mead’s words, "never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world…..indeed, that’s the only thing that ever has."