eTN Publisher Juergen Steinmetz talks to Professor Geoffrey Lipman Co-Founder of SUNx – STRONG Universal Network, about the development of “Plan For Our Kids” and the signature “African Earth Lung” to be launched during WTM Africa.
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Hey Geoffrey, I wanted to get an update from SUNx for WTM Africa
Hi Thomas, we’re just rolling out “Plan for Our Kids” (PFOK) launched at WTTC’s COP 24 event in Poland at the end of last year. Its goal is to create 100,000 STRONG Climate Champions by 2030 across all UN States. It’s a low cost, CSR linked program, with lifetime learning, from school through graduation into corporate training programs, and it will support Climate Friendly Travel ~ measured to manage: green to grow & 2050 proof to innovate. It will provide cloud connected online education, analytics and a heavy emphasis on innovation, to spread best practice around the system.
Why is this different from what other organizations like WTTC or UNWTO do ?
It’s complementary to all the excellent SDG related sustainability initiatives, of industry and government organizations – across the mobility, hospitality, technology spectrum. PFOK is just totally focused on responding to eXistential Climate Change. Because if we don’t fix that, all the other stuff won’t matter. So, it targets the next generation of decision makers. And we are appealing to companies and communities who connect with them for the strategic engagement and financing support to make it happen. Industry leaders, financial services, technology innovators all have a massive stake in the future. SUNx is just a catalyst.
Why the next generation……… What about now?
Climate change is a multi-generational issue. The last generation defined it: This generation recognized it. The next generation will be in the middle of it. They don’t have the institutional baggage and they will have the mindset to implement solutions.
But we have to start now – that’s the climate scientists’ message: that’s the economists’ message and that’s the Greta Thunberg message.
I kind of like the Titanic analogy. At the end of the day we have to avoid the iceberg and if we do that the ship sails on, life carries on and evolves. But the ship takes a long time to change course – in the case of the Paris Agreement 5 years from 2015 inception to 2020 coming into force. 2030 to ramp up and integrate with the SDG’s And 2050 to stabilize at liveable weather conditions.
OK why 100,000 STRONG Champions– or did you pull the number out of the air.
Well it’s a significant target of educated thought leaders – even for a global movement – but it’s basically the equivalent of 500 for every UN State. Even for a small island that’s not huge. For a big State we know it will spawn more. And we have a decade to put them in place. They’ll be the Greta Thunberg support system for our sector – helping ensure that Paris targets are met. What’s exciting is that we will be able to provide them with dynamic lifetime learning from our web portal, focused good practice from across the global climate resilience spectrum and a capacity to spread innovation on a real time basis.
Steinmetz How Will you Finance such an Ambitious Program
Visionary Corporate Sponsors from the Travel & Tourism sector and supporting industries, as well as far thinking public sector sources; will take it to scale, country by country. We have a Sponsor and Impact Investor program, as well as a country initiative that costs just 5000 Euro. And we operate as an NGO with low costs and high focus.
We’ve been fortunate to find our first Anchor Sponsor, of 12 we are seeking worldwide for 2019/2020 – and we are grateful to Robin Ingle for his willingness to step up to the plate so quickly. Our plan calls for one from each sub-sector – Transport: Hospitality: Travel Services: from each of 3 regions. Americas: Europe / Middle East/ Africa: Asia/Pacific. As well as one leader per UN State.
Our signature African Earth Lung will of course require a much bigger Alliance, with much greater finance. But frankly it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something that can have such clear global and local significance. I saw it before at Rio 92 when Maurice Strong mobilized so much for the planet and a focus on the Amazon. We think this is our chance to help the world and the Congo Basin.
Steinmetz Will you ever stop this kind of corporate campaigning
I doubt it. I worked for IATA for the first 20 years of my career – a wonderful organization that instilled a sense of purpose – its first Director General told a journalist when he was in his 90’s, that his days began by crawling out of bed to get the Times Newspaper from the doormat. He turned to the obituary column and if he wasn’t there, he got dressed & carried on with life. I’m kind of from that school of thought.
For more information on SUNx, please visit: https://www.thesunprogram.com/