Finally. Someone dared to question the approach of the World Resources Forum, and it was one of the speakers. Marilyn Mehlmann, General Secretary of Global Action Plan International (GAP), said some assertive words that many of us wanted to hear, especially the young ones (coincidence?). I found her speech sincere, which probably made it unpleasant for many of the people present.
If you didn’t attend the conference, you might be asking yourself why ‘unpleasant’? Unpleasant because she spoke about bureaucracy, about a system that suffocates people’s will. “What kind of society are we when the people which can make the biggest difference can’t do the right thing?” she said. Commitment should be demonstrated with actions and not only with words. But it is much more easy just to talk than to really “walk the talk”. Why? Because of fear. Fear of failing, of looking ridiculous, of losing the job. Marilyn remarked that the most basic sustainability challenge is to face our own fears, and transform them into authentic caring and action.
Marilyn explained that what has been reinforcing the ‘hunger for more’ are attitudes like:
- Whatever is wrong, It’s not my fault.
- My/our lifestyle is sacrosanct.
- The engineers/politicians/… will fix it.
- Success is measured in things.
But hopefully, a ‘hunger for less’ will take traction by realising that:
- I, you, can change things.
- Quality of life is more important than having more things.
- Quality of life builds on relationships.
She said empowering people by giving good examples would make them courageous to stand up for themselves, and that empowering women through education is essential to achieve sustainability, because the more educated they are, the less kids they are likely to have.
Only a few hours after her presentation, it was proven during the “Highlights of the day” that her message had been successfully transmitted. When the audience voted regarding the most important recommendations of the WRF, the result was clear: “Empower the youth, the old and everyone in between” was considered the most important recommendation among the audience…
In order to learn about her current projects, the challenges she had faced, the secret of her projects’ success and more, please listen to the following interview:
A sustainable society should be a society of well-being for all (yes, for all!). During the conference we heard many things about policies, economy, depletion, recycling, etc., but Marilyn was the first one to mention something which, hopefully, is still pursued by many people: happiness.
Now stop, think, and be sincere to yourself… what makes you happy?