This year, Brisbane held the Asia Pacific Cities Summit, where Peggy Lui–global sustainability leader and Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE) Chairperson and Executive Consultant–delivered a keynote speech unlike any other.
QUT Business School sponsored me to participate in the forum as a young professional, which involved engaging in innovative and valuable conversation. I am very passionate about sustainability, so I loved listening to Peggy’s speech about sustainable consumption in which she urged us to be vigilant of what we are doing to our earth.
The question is: how do we change the consumer mindset of 800 million emerging middle-class consumers away from a Western conspicuous consumption dream, to something that is a little bit more culturally friendly and better for the planet? Peggy encouraged leaders of the Asia Pacific region to use China as an example and “understand how China is managing and adapting, to take advantage of growth opportunities.” Drawing upon her knowledge and background, she noted that China is the only country building brand new entire cities at a time, which means that they can innovate at a local level within each new city. It was highlighted how innovation at the local level is important for consumers and environmentalists to demonstrate how the conversation needs to be shifted from a sustainability conversation to a prosperity conversation.
Moving from an elite group to a populist group, Peggy emphasised that we need to stop talking about fear mongering and use aspirational language. We need to figure a way to “reimagine prosperity but embed sustainability into the social norms.”
Business is business, but the earth should not be the currency. With still no major breakthroughs in finding another livable planet like Earth, we must find the ability to slow down climate change and reverse what humans have done to the earth. Small changes, as Pegg Lui suggests, do count. Simple things like using a keep cup instead of single-use cups, lessening our intake of meat, buying second hand from op shops, and sourcing fresh produce from local farmers will help decrease our carbon footprint. All these small actions when done repeatedly can help make the environment we live in happier, more sustainable and prosperous.
It is all about creating new habits and sticking to them. We must stop acting as the earth’s virus that has no vaccine, and instead, we must help it flourish to its full potential.