Bob Doppelt

Sustainability and Resilience Require A Shift “From Me to We”

The term “sustainability” is a normative concept that suggests the continuation of ecological, economic, cultural, political and other factors that society deems important to maintain over the long term. However, there will be no “sustainability” if global temperatures rise by 2C or more as now seems inevitable. To the contrary, continual crises management and triage to determine which functions to try to protect and which to abandon will likely be the norm. The amplified and new stresses created by rising temperatures will in most cases be successfully addressed only when individuals work for the good of the entire group (their community, nation, and world) rather than for themselves at the expense of others. In other words, successful responses to climate disruption in built, economic, cultural and ecological systems will, at their core, require a shift from ‘Me’ focused to ‘We’ based thinking and acting. This requires extensive levels of social resilience. Social resilience—a fundamental shift From Me to We– can be thought of as the capacity for individuals to engage in and sustain positive interpersonal relationships that allow them to work constructively with others to withstand and recover from physical, economic, psycho-social, ecological and other stresses such as those posed by extreme weather events and other climate impacts. To be socially resilient people need to be exposed to and grasp the different experiences and needs of others. Respect for diverse perspectives, concern for the welfare of others, and inclusiveness are important because they signal reciprocity—i.e. by taking care of others your needs and those of your organization will also be met. The strength of these factors is dependent on both the personal characteristics of the individuals involved and the design of the social structures in which they interact. Thus, one of society’s most important goals now must be to develop mechanisms at the local, state, and national levels that foster and support social resilience—a shift From Me to We based thinking and acting. In this presentation, Bob Doppelt shares two examples of projects intended to foster the development of ‘We’ oriented social resilience: The Resource Innovation Group’s Climate Futures Forums, and its recent assessment of the strengths, limitations, and potential of organizations making a moral call to action on climate disruption.

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