Big shift coming. What do we do?

Last week, Climate-KIC held its 2020 retreat (online)! It kicked off with a thought-provoking presentation from CEO Kirsten Dunlop. Most of it was about C-KIC itself, but here I would like to call our attention to its description of the context we find ourselves in.

  1. 1.5° has failed. Climate change marches on, and with it the Jackpot: several social and environmental dynamics interacting in a complex way. 2020 is starting to look like a drill of what’s to come.
  2. But the global governance system seems to have shifted, at least in Europe. Consider:
    • EU Green New Deal: 1 trillion to be announced before the summer.
    • Horizon Europe (the successor to Horizon 2020 for 2021-2027) is adopting a mission-driven approach, with climate-neutral cities and climate change adaptation (“including societal transformations”) as two of the missions.
    • Additionally, the COVID stimulus is set at 2.4 trillion. A lot of that money also gets channeled towards climate-neutral, inclusive etc. etc.

There are no precedents of any human society throwing 3 trillion on the table. This will be a profound shock to the system, in good and in bad ways. It is also a one-off: it can be a large opportunity, maybe it will be used well, maybe not. But our generation won’t get another.

A shock that is easy to foresee: all financial and administrative pipelines will get clogged. Our public sector simply does not have that capacity. Spending bodies are going to need help, boots on the ground, eyes on the street, makers of maps.

Intuitively, there seems to be a role for collective intelligence here. A lot of sensemaking is needed, for one; and the need for participatory process is only going to increase, as exhausted bureaucrats handle scary amounts of money, under punishing deadlines, at considerable cost to their careers in case of mishandling. In terms of a high-level strategy, I would like Edgeryders to claim a role, forge collective intelligence into a sharper tool for contributing to the societal transition, and try to make a positive impact. I can think of valuable work to be done by the Research Network, EarthOS, the Culture Squad, the Sci-Fi Economics Lab, The Reef… we have been working on this very same transition since 2011.

But we don’t live at the high level. We live at the ground level of the current projects, our growing, but still limited, network of business partners, the next batch of calls. I have no idea how, in practice, we would respond to a historical challenge like this. What do I need to do tomorrow to help us all take a step in the direction of becoming contributors to the transition? What do you?

Together with the Edgeryders board, I will be thinking hard about this question in the coming weeks and months. If you, too, care about the issue, maybe let’s think together?