November 10, 2016

Both carrots and sticks, please!

Seija Lukkala

is the CEO of Globe Hope.

Our natural resources are vanishing at a threatening pace; and meanwhile, we humans strive to maximise economic growth by consuming more and more. This is a strange equation.

The world’s population keeps on growing rapidly. We would need 1.6 Earths for our renewable natural resources to stay up to speed with the current consumption rates. If everyone on the planet used them up on the same level as us Finns, we would need 3.4 Earths.

Have we lost our minds? We’re eating from the plates of our children and grandchildren!

It could be that we don’t want to understand the inconvenient truth, because it would require action. We ought to contemplate how and what we consume. Are we shopping because we need to or just because we want to? In developed countries, consumers make dozens of decisions every day. The choices of individuals make a difference.

What can just one person do? We need to be retaught how to consume – sustainably. Cheap products don’t tend to last long, and, in the end, cheap isn’t cheap at all.

Of course companies are responsible, too; but the truth is that nothing is produced unless people buy it. Producing bad-quality items should be banned. Using our shared natural resources to make these products is downright criminal. When can we expect to have regulation to control the waste of the natural resources that belong to all of us?

Unfortunately, we humans can be greedy and short-sighted. Now we need consumers, companies, countries and legislators to all contribute with common sense. In our greed, we don’t see the bigger picture.

Luckily, global agreements to slow down climate change have partially been put to practice. The number of well-informed citizens has increased both in Finland and abroad. The programmes by Tekes and Sitra guide and support companies in seeking sustainable solutions.

We Finns have incredible opportunities to develop completely new, disruptive models and businesses in the fields of resource efficiency and circular economy. Let’s not miss out on the chance of a lifetime.

Developing technologies alone won’t suffice in saving the world. We continue to need common sense, sticks and carrots.

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