Modernization Hub

Modernization and Improvement


– I want to start with
the irregular confession that I make these days
when I stand up to speak in front of any audience, and that is to confess how
deeply, deeply nervous I am. Significantly more nervous than I was when I was a 15 year old activist standing up against the inequality in education in South Africa when the slogan at the front of the march was, “We want equality.” And by the time the younger
kids at the back of the march, the 12 year olds, they were chanting, “We want a colour TV.” Because they thought was the slogan at the front of the march. Well, kids at white
schools had colour TVs. Kids in black schools had no TVs, and if I’m brutally honest with you, at that moment in my life, I wanted a colour TV and
equality almost equally. But why am I nervous? Best to do it through a story. Speaking to an audience in the US, I talk about the fact that we’re running out of time on climate, that our forests are disappearing, inequality is deepening,
and as I’m talking about all of this, you can see the audience getting more and more depressed, and then when the Q&A time came, a woman put up her hand
and she asked me, she said, “Dr. Naidoo, have you heard
of Martin Luther King?” I said yes, he inspired me
and many young activists in South Africa when we were fighting against the apartheid
regime, and she asked, “Do you know what his most
famous speech was called? And, thinking it was a
trick question, anybody? – [Audience Member] I Have a Dream. – Yes, but I was thinking it
was a bit of a trick question, so I said it a bit more gently. I said, “I Have A Dream?” And then she shouted back
at me, she said, “Yes! “It’s I Have A Dream, but
when I hear you speak, “it sounds like you have a nightmare. “Everything is collapsing,
everything’s getting worse.” So, there in lies the biggest
challenge of the moment that humanity finds itself in. How do we speak in an
honest, truthful way? Speak the truth to the power
that needs to be spoken, but how do we do it in a way that does not depress, demobilise, and undermine what we really need to do right now, which is create a context of hope, a context of it does matter,
that if we all get involved, and that we all have a place
and a opportunity to contribute to what has to be the biggest effort at mobilisation of people to put pressure on those who have power to
make major changes quickly. I noticed that I’ve done
exactly what I did at the US. Some of you are looking depressed, so let me just quickly tell you a… Let me just give you some good news. You’ve probably heard people
like myself at some point have said things like save the
planet, save the environment. Save the climate. The good news, dear brothers and sisters, is the planet is absolutely fine. The planet actually does not need saving. If we continue on the path that we are, we continue to warm up this planet to a point where our water
resources are depleted. That’s happening in many
parts of the world already. Our soil gets depleted, as is happening on my continent, Africa,
on a serious scale already, and has happened in Syria seven years before the conflict started, and the end result is we’re
not able to produce food and so the end result is we will be gone. The planet actually will still be here, and the good news is, once we
become extinct as a species, the forests will recover, the oceans will replenish, and so on. So don’t worry about the planet. Understand that the struggle to avert catastrophic climate
change is nothing less and nothing more than
ensuring that humanity can fashion a way to coexist with nature in a mutually interdependent relationship for centuries and centuries to come, but differently, the struggle to avert catastrophic climate change
is simply a commitment that we need to make
to secure our children and their children’s futures. That is what is at stake at the moment. The good news is the
solutions are there today for us to be able to rise
to meet this challenge. The bad news is the
industries that are making truck loads of money every single second of every single day are holding us back from making the transitions
that we need to make, and sadly, too many of
our political leaders have been bought lock, stock, and barrel by the very holders who dominate
these polluting industries. A way to creatives to help. I want to take you to French in the 70’s, when a philosopher called Louis Althusser, at the height of his intellectual prowess, made the distinction where he said one of the mistakes that many people make is thinking that governments
and corporations control people by mainly using what he called the repressive state apparatus. By the repressive state apparatus, he meant the framework for, sorry, army, police, use of
formal laws, and so on. But he said, of course, the repressive state apparatus does create the theatre where citizens can seek to secure their rights
and advocate for them. However, he argued that the more insidious and more powerful form
of control is in fact the ideological state apparatus, by which he defined as the
framework for education, the framework for schooling, and the framework for particularly media. So, when we look at activism and what does activism really mean, activism, at one level, is nothing more than ensuring a massive
creative awareness effort to ensure that people
understand their rights, know how to fight for them, and know how to connect
with others to do so, and generally, we tend
to think that governments control more in terms of the
repressive state apparatus and we don’t understand the power of culture in moving societies forward. Now, I want to shock you a bit by saying that I fully
support Steve Bannon. When he asserts that
politics follows culture, culture does not follow politics, right? And I believe that they
have been significantly, Bannon and his ilk, have
been much more successful in understanding popular communications than people who are concerned about gender equality and
other progressive issues such as addressing climate change. So, when they shoot out a dog whistle such as, “Make America Great Again.” Which, the base knows that the message is, “Make America White Again.” I mean, if you want to
make America great again, you probably have to
give the country back to the indigenous original
peoples of the United States, so that’s a much more complicated project. But the bottom line is, a lot of climate activism communications have not been accessible enough, have not been creative enough, and has not been impactful enough, and I want to say to you, if any of you sitting in this
audience here are thinking, “Oh, this guy Kumi is in
such an important role.” And you know, you’re looking to me to be somebody who’s gonna add value, let me be blunt with you. Right now, and I’m not
saying this to be polite and to make you feel
good about yourselves, but I hope you will feel
good about yourselves even though that was not my intention. Basically, to be blunt with you, I would argue that each
and every one of you here have much more power to make a difference than you probably fully acknowledge. That, if activism is nothing more than ensuring that people who have been shut out of
knowledge, information, and so on, which enables them to see
how serious things are, how unjust things are, and
how they can act against it, if we don’t break that,
then activism is dead and you have the capability to help us engage in that communications. So, in South Africa for example, do you think the struggle
against apartheid, where the majority of our people were left unable to read and
write when democracy came. You know, how do you mobilise in a context where the majority of people can not read and write? Of course it’s arts and culture. It’s music, it’s dance. I remember speaking at
a meeting in Reading, which, uh, I’m not sure,
I think George, yeah… George Venega said that the only reason people went to Reading was
to change trains for London, or Oxford, depending which
direction you’re going. Because he spent some nights
in a prison in Reading, but let me not get too deviated from that. But the bottom line is, I got asked, I was speaking
about the situation, “Why is it your people sing
and dance at funerals?” I don’t know if you remember in the 80’s, you know, every weekend,
we were burying activists and at the activists’ funerals, you would see people singing and dancing. It was to say to the oppressor, you can do whatever you want to do to us, you’re never going to break our spirit. It was saying to the families that you should feel proud. You should celebrate the
life of your family member because it was a life well lived and even though it’s
been taken prematurely, you should honour its commitment, and it’s basically saying to ourselves that we’re going to keep smiling. We’re gonna keep loving each other. We’re gonna keep living while we fight the injustice of apartheid. So, a couple weeks ago,
Amnesty International gave Fridays For Future and Greta Thunberg its highest honour, the
Ambassador of Consciousness award, and it was given to every country where this movement exists, including in the UK, to the
young leaders of the movement, and when I was handing over
the award in Washington, D.C. to Greta and the US Fridays
For Future Movement, I said, “If I was a dictator, “there’s one thing that I
would instruct you to do “as the Fridays For Future Movement, “which is do not allow
the Trumps of the world “and the Bolsonaros of the world “and the Boris Johnsons of the world “to deprive you of your childhood.” And there’s one thing, if
I could decree that you do, is while we fight this fight, let’s have as much fun as possible. Make sure we’re laughing, and I say it from my experience as a young activist in South Africa. You have people telling them, “Oh, you’ve been involved
since you were 15. “you’ve sacrificed and contributed.” Folks, if I gave this much
to the cause of humanity, what I’ve received in return is, I can’t even make it big enough, okay? So what I’m saying is activism is fun. Activism is sexy. Activism is what we need and I believe that the creative community, I’m seeing more and more evidence of people in the broadest
creative community wanting to contribute, wanting
to participate, and so on. I want to conclude by saying, apart from how you use the
different tools of your trade, at the centre of it is
what is the core message? What is the core message that we need to communicate at this moment? Well, clearly, our young
children are saying to us, “You don’t get it. “Our future is going. “You keep talking about growth, “which is a fairy tale, “but we have reached
the limits of growth.” So, I don’t know whether any of you saw Greta Thunberg’s speech at the UN. If you haven’t, I strongly
urge you to see it because it was truth to power, emotionally, powerfully, and so on. And so, I wanted to just evoke back to Martin Luther King, if I might. Speaking in the mid-60’s, he said, “My friends, as I come
to the end of my speech, “I want to note that in the field “of modern child psychology, “there’s a very dominant
term called maladjusted. “Now, all of us want to be well adjusted “and not suffer from schizophrenia “or other mental
illnesses, but my friends, “I say to you, that
there are certain things “in our world that are
so unjust and immoral “that good decent people should refuse “to be well adjusted to.” He then goes on to say, “And I never intend to adjust myself.” Sorry, I think I pressed it by mistake. He then goes on to say, “I never intend to adjust
myself to religious bigotry. “I never intend to adjust
myself to racial discrimination. “I never intend to adjust
myself to mindless expenditure “on military weapons when
people have no food to eat.” And importantly, on the economy, he said, “I never intend to adjust
myself to economic conditions “that will take necessities from the many “to give luxuries to the few, “when millions of God’s
children are smothering “in an air-tight cage of
poverty in an affluent society.” He was talking about
the US in the mid-60’s. If it was relevant then,
it’s a thousand times more relevant in the US today, and sadly, it’s relevant for every
country on this planet. So when we think about
what the creative community can contribute, I believe
you have only begun to scratch the surface of
what you can communicate, and one of the things that, in the activist community
we’re not good at, is we tend to speak too much in jargon. I like to think I’m a
little bit of an exception, but as you can see, I’ve
used a few big words already, and by the way, Martin Luther King had a longer version of
the speech, called… The setting up of the new
international movement that never got set up. He said, “I call upon
people around the world “to come together to set up
a new international movement “to be known as the
International Association “for the Advancement of
Creative Maladjustment.” So, your challenge is to
be creatively maladjusted, to be comfortable, not to
adjust to the status quo, recognise that things are so broken that they require fundamental change. So, what we need right now
is not system recovery, system protection, system maintenance. What we need is system innovation, system redesign, and
system transformation. This is not a time for baby
steps in the right direction. This is not a time for rearranging the deck chairs on the
Titanic while humanity sinks. This is a time for major bold decisions that are the scale of what the science is telling
us we need to change. So, let me leave you in
conclusion with a little story that keeps me motivated every day, because one of the questions
that I get asked all the time is how is it for people committed to these issues and have been working, how do you keep your sense of motivation? And I just wanna conclude on a true story. It’s sad, but focus on
the inspirational stuff. Don’t worry about the sad stuff. So, I was 22 years old. I’m fleeing South Africa into exile and my best friend at that
time, a guy called Lenny, asked me a question. He says, “Kumi, what is
the biggest contribution “you can make to the cause of humanity?” And I said, “That’s a simple question. “Giving our life.” He said, “You mean,
going and participation “in a demonstration and
getting shot and killed.” Which, as I said, was
happening all the time at that time in South Africa in the 80’s. I said, “I guess so.” He said, “No, it’s not giving your life, “but giving the rest of your life.” I was 22 years old at that time. My friend Lenny was way ahead
of me in every possible way. In fact, he was the first
environmentalist I met. At that time, you know, green issues were, like, totally irrelevant. For him, he got the connection
between the different issues, and I joking say, I think at that time, he probably was like one of
5000 voluntary vegetarians in the entire African continent. So, the guy was a visionary. So, we hug each other, we say good-bye. We fled into exile in
different directions, and then two years later, I get the call while I was a
student at Oxford University, telling me that my friend Lenny and three young women from my home city were brutally murdered
by the apartheid regime. There was so many bullets in their bodies that their parents couldn’t even recognise them at the mortuary. So I had to think hard
about the distinction that he was making
between giving your life versus giving the rest of your life, and what he was saying is very profound. The struggle for justice, climate justice, gender justice, social justice, environmental justice, you name it. These struggles are marathons
and they’re not sprints, and the biggest commitment
each and every one of you can make here is to move forward with a sense of perseverance,
stamina, and energy, to continue to push until we secure this planet for our
children and their children in a more just and more equitable way, and so, you know, I… When I got the call that he had died, I had to think deeply
about this distinction, and what I say to you is the fact that you here on a Monday
morning, or Monday afternoon, for this session gives me hope. It is saying that you are prepared to be part of the solution rather than opting to be neutral, and right now, taking a
position of neutrality when there’s so much at stake, I would argue is a choice of saying that you’re part of the problem. So, I want to conclude by inviting you to be as active as possible, to look at all the creative
options before you, prepare and budget for set backs, because there will be set backs, but just budget for it in your psychology so that when it comes, you say, “Ah, this is the set back
that I was waiting for.” Because we are going to have fun. We’re going to be as creative as possible. We are going to be as
motivated as possible as we do what it takes to ensure that we create a world where there’s more equity,
more sustainability, and where our children can
live in love and in peace. Thank you very, very much. (audience clapping) – So, I feel like we have assembled a panel of people who are already part of the creative maladjusted, who are already people who
have made that commitment and stepped forward in
different and interlocking ways. I’m gonna quickly just say a few words about each of you so that that context is clear for the audience. So, Lily, you’ve been, and I’m gonna come to you to find out a bit more about this, but I feel like, the last few years, you’ve done a big sort of pivot towards this area, and not only been writing about this, stuff you’ve written in The Guardian. You’ve also been in a short film. You’re working with the
Environmental Justice Foundation. I saw your call on UK banks to take climate change more seriously, which obviously, we
should all be boycotting and divesting from Barclays, and also, working on a digital children’s book. So, you’re really like, in
lots of touch points there, and I’m gonna come to you more to explain what your moment was to kind
of pivot into that work. Livia. So, your work in this area, again, goes back, I think,
probably more than 10 years, and you’ll tell us a bit more
about the work of Eco-Age, but I’m just gonna highlight, just now, the work that you’ve done with
the Green Carpet Challenge, ’cause that’s, again, going back to 2010, when you were actually like, I’m not gonna walk on red carpets anymore in fashion ware, which
is upholding a system which is ultimately unsustainable, and I think through that, you’ve done a lot of really interesting high-level influencing,
and I was telling Kumi about the work that you’ve done as well to flip some of the gold companies to thinking more sustainably, so you’ve really been a kind of… An activist, but one with
really interesting access to the worlds of fashion and film. And Duncan, a playwright
and a screenwriter, and your play Lungs is coming back, I think, to the Old Vic,
any second now, actually, on the 14th of October, and that’s a play which will be starring Matt Smith and Claire Foy, and they’re a couple who are wrestling with what climate change means for the future of their relationship and any plans they might
have kinda for family, and you also I think a few years ago did another play called 2071, which was a dramatised lecture that you actually collaborated
with a climate scientist. And Scott, you’ve been
involved in a lot of really big, amazing films
with big mainstream success. You’ve worked a lot with Matt
Damon and Stephen Zutterberg and I’m sure people
would know those films. Films like The Bourne
Ultimatum and Contagion. I feel like all of your work, obviously deeply social and political, and in terms of climate, you were actually involved in the making of An Inconvenient Truth and its sequel, so on the documentary side too, you’ve really been very directly kind of involved in this work. So firstly, I think on
behalf of me and Kumi, thank you for all of the work that you guys are already doing, but I wanted to kind of
jump in with this question, in terms of like what
brought us to this moment. Lily, what made you
realise this was something and how many years ago
and what was the kind of inciting moment when you realised you needed to kind of pivot
your attention to this work? – It’s interesting that
you observe it as a pivot. For me, it’s felt like
a very sustained pivot that I’m still on. For me, it started when I was a teenager, because I started modelling
when I was very young. I was 14 and I suddenly
was in this position. I actually, before I started modelling, I once wrote to Amnesty, asking if I could do something to help. I had a very kind of activist mom and I didn’t get a reply. – Do you want to reply now? Do you want to reply now? – I would definitely reply now. – Thanks, and then suddenly I
found myself in this position when I started modelling that suddenly those
charities were writing to me and asking if I could help and be involved and kind of naturally, you know, how do you say no to
all the different things that call our heart and attention? Whether it’s animal rights or human rights or the environment, and the environment had almost been the least interesting, because it’s like, the least emotional, but I did a kind of sustained few years of working with different charities, to try and be helpful,
but also for myself, to really try and work out where I felt I could add value or I felt like the biggest calling, and for me, certainly, I
came out of that journey and it was the environment
because I just realised that the the environment is kind of the underpinning to everything else, and every other kind of social issue is made worse by an unhealthy environment, and also it’s just kind of
like, do we want to live, right? It’s like the most fundamental question, so I started working with the Environmental Justice Foundation, I think when I was like 17 or 18. I’ve been a patron for them and WWF and a few different organisations, and then since then, I’ve always tried to I guess take the approach of can you change the system from inside? So, continuing to work with fashion, working with film, think
about kind of yeah, like, rather than being on the outside, how do you try to change
systems from within? Which I’m not saying, I’ve
had kind of varying success at different projects I’ve done, but I’ve always been looking
at it through that lens and that’s taking me on a journey, really, for the last, you know, 10, 15 years, that I’d still say I’m. – And how are you doing
with it all emotionally? Because I thought it was interesting that a lot of what
Kumi’s talking about here is the need to actually
set ourselves emotionally for the struggle, because,
you know, it’s tough, right? I mean, I’m beginning to work with a lot of climate scientists
and people like Kumi who spend every minute of every
day with their head in it, and you know, I see what an enormous kind of challenge that is. How are you feeling? It’s been an amazing year, right? It’s been a lot moving. Are you feeling energised by that? Or the climate reports are getting worse at the same time that the
kids are right on the street. It’s a lot, right? – I think it’s such an important question. I think it’s the question
that, probably as creatives, we have to really strive
to try and answer, because I think it’s a
really challenging moment to be alive and to be
cognizant of what’s happening, and I’ve really definitely
struggled with a mix of emotion. I think at times I felt
incredibly depressed. I have a four year old child and kind of just the weight of it when you get deep into the
science and the information. It’s so heavy, the
anxiety, hypocrisy, guilt. You know, like analysing my own life, beating myself up about the points that I feel part of the problem
rather than the solution, and then pulling myself out of that and feeling actually really
energised and optimistic because people by and large
do feel like they’re waking up and it feels like there’s a
massive mainstream movement that didn’t exist 10 years ago. I mean, obviously there’s been
a huge environmental movement for decades, but it’s
becoming really mainstream. I’ve been writing a book, actually, on environmental solutions
for the last three years, and as I’ve been writing the book, it’s just like, transformed
the whole landscape. I’ve had to keep rewriting
sections and chapters. I mean, I have a whole
chapter now on protests that didn’t exist when I
conceptualised the book because, you know, Fridays For Future and Extinction Rebellion didn’t exist. So, a kind of mix of things. I try and, you know, like… Control my emotions rather
than allow them to control me, and so, when I’m trying to control them, I focus on the positive, and I feel really optimistic and energised by the fact that there are
actually tonnes of solutions and it seems like people care
and that gives me great hope. – Thank you. I’m not gonna go down the line. It’s too predictable. I’m gonna jump to Duncan. So, Duncan, again, just
give us that kind of sense about when you first got
involved in this area and also how you’re feeling
in this current moment. (laughing) How are you feeling? – I’m, similarly, I’ve
got a five year old, and I’m feeling incredibly… I’m feeling both things at once, you know? Absolutely despairing and
yet looking at the generation now below me and what’s happening with Extinction Rebellion
just down the road. Despair doesn’t seem to be an option and that’s incredibly inspiring that we have to just be
asking these questions. We have to be active. We have to be doing things right now. I find that really inspiring. I can’t pinpoint exactly the moment. Certainly, as a dramatist,
as a screenwriter, as a playwright, I’ve been thinking a lot for a long time now about
how we talk about this stuff. I think there’s three
real problems we have as storytellers in dealing with this. There’s, first of all,
it’s very complicated. To try and communicate
something like the carbon cycle in a drama where people
are standing in a kitchen, chopping peppers or something, and having an argument
and also trying to explain the carbon cycle to each other is narratively difficult
to make compelling, and it’s also been quite
abstract for a long time and I think stories,
particularly plays and films, do the individual better
than they do the collective and they do the concrete better
than they do the abstract, and so you get lots of
narratives about usually violent men who are solving
things through force and making a huge change
by being the only one with real agency, and that’s
not going to be case here. It’s going to be a collective
thing and a restructuring, so our stories, I suppose, particularly Western story structure, is inadequate for telling stories which can communicate the collective, can communicate the complexity, can elucidate the abstract and can… Yeah, communicate the science in that way, so I think, just like we need, sort of, economic restructuring and
political restructuring, we need to sort of restructure our stories and that’s something I’m
finding really inspiring as well by the generation below
me in theatre and in film. They are finding new forms. They’re finding new
ways of telling stories. The writers themselves,
the directors, the makers, and the protagonists of their stories are people we’ve not seen that much before and I feel as a white
heterosexual middle-class educated English-speaking
able-bodied cis-gendered man, I’m finding it fascinating– – You’ve said that really well. You’ve said that before. – Yeah, but someone who
accidentally got born into a set of privileges that I’m
now trying to reckon with and now trying to understand, you know, trying to work out how
to use those privileges to give voice to people who don’t have that same collective bingo card, and that is, it’s fascinating, the voices that are coming up and the voices that are
finally being given that space, and I think that’s changed the form and changed the voices who
are able to contribute now and be heard in our culture, and so yeah, I’m trying to work out how, as an artist and as a maker of things, I can step aside, listen more, and give that voice to other
people as much as possible. – I’m gonna bounce off
that and come to Scott. Scott, where do you live normally? You in Los Angeles or New York or? – Mainly in Los Angeles. – Okay, so obviously we are very grateful to have you here today. It’s because your latest film, The Report, is in the film festival that
brings you to this panel today, and actually, when I heard Duncan saying stories of violent men
using force to solve things, I thought actually that’s the subject of your film The Report, which of course is about the CIA and their use of torture. Obviously, the opposite
of heroizing such a thing, so I’d love to talk to you
more about that film later because that’s an area that I’m sort of super interested in as well,
but given that you were involved in An Inconvenient Truth, and I’ve been reflecting
a lot on documentaries, which is our era, and I
feel like there’s been a real narrow way that documentaries have approached this
subject, even ones, you know, when I look back in horror
that I’ve been involved in, and it tends to be a kind of like a fear, fear, fear,
hope kind of structure, and really quite a narrow look at this, and what were your reflections on hearing what Duncan is saying that,
actually, our very story forms may be kind of too narrow to
help us kind of capture this. Is that something that you vibe with or do you just think we haven’t
used our imagination enough within the forms that we already have? – Well, I guess having
heard what Duncan said, the first thing I wanna say
is I feel absurdly redundant because he and I have the same sort of CV, so in a way, I think the
best thing I can do right now is put down the microphone
and invite somebody who’s not from the experience
of a white cis-gendered male to come up here, so if there’s
anybody who wants my seat, I’ve learned that the
thing you have to do now actually to make a difference is give up your space if
it’s already been occupied by someone who’s like-minded
so that we have other voices, and I’m actually completely
serious right now, so if there is a woman or person of colour who wants to come up
here, I will step aside. If not, I will praddle on. (laughing) But yeah, you’re right. I think that one of the things that… That I’ve learned from the work I’ve done in the documentary space on An Inconvenient Truth,
An Inconvenient Sequel, Food Inc., a number of other
docs that I’ve consulted on. You know, it does start
to follow this recipe where at the end, we get to
this place where, you know, someone says, “Well, you
gotta leave ’em with hope.” And I have a real problem with hope and actually, Greta said
it very well the other day that, you know, hope without
action is meaningless. I have a friend who has cancer who says hope is people
waiting for the bus. To me, you know, I’ve been working on a
project with Bill McKibben who is an activist in the states, and Bill says we don’t
owe the audience hope. We owe the audience honesty, and one of the things that we
said in An Inconvenient Truth was we worked with James Hansen,
who was a NASA scientist, but also the IPCC
scientist who I worked with have always said there
was a 10 year threshold, so that was 2005. Okay, so we went over that threshold, and I think what’s important to realise is that you can’t rely on the science and then pretend that it isn’t happening, and so we did go over that threshold, and so now the negotiation
we’re involved in is how do we stop the worst
ravages of climate change? And that, we can do but we need
plans and we need solutions, and so, you know, this is
something that I, you know, have been really involved
with for 20 years and you know, I can tell
you that Denis Hayes, who created Earth Day in America, when Denis put solar panels
on the White House in 1976, his hope was that some
day we would have an Eden and he’s an economist and he
thought we would come up with a sustainable economy. I spoke to Denis last week and he said, “Really, my hope now is that we survive.” And I say this not to scare people because what you said about
motivation is crucial, but I think we need to tell stories that take into account that reality and make it motivating and in that regard, I feel really embarrassed
that I’ve failed, you know? I really do. Like, I’ve gotta figure out ways to tell stories that
human beings engage with that make them, you know, do something other than what we’re doing. – Livia, I feel like you are the eco, well, another eco activist on this panel, but one who’s really had a
very close ring-side seat to the kind of world of film. What have your observations been about the changes or the resistance,
you know, in that world, to kind of pivoting to face these subjects and to kind of invent stories? It must be something
that you talk about a lot at the kitchen table. – Yeah, but it’s also a very interesting experience that I had. In my previous career, life,
I was a documentary producer and I think this is when we
met, more than 12 years ago, and at the time, I was
producing a documentary against the death penalty in America and Amnesty was part of that, and one thing that I realised at the time that there were plenty
of environmental, social, political movies and
documentaries that didn’t have a platform to get
distributed and to be seen, and this is when I think I met you with this idea to create a
platform called Bright White at the time where we
could show these movies and then link them
immediately with action, because at the end of the movie, you are highly emotional
and you want to act and do something, and then
you’re like, uh, what do I do? So, you could link it
immediately to the action. Then that failed, and in that same period, my brother had the idea of opening Eco-Age, an environmental
consultancy company, and I always felt that I’ve been an activist first and foremost. As you say, a professional agitator, and the first time that I started learning about environmental issues and realising that environmental issues are human rights issues, and so, you know, they’re so linked, you can’t
only talk about climate justice without talking about social justice, and one of the things that
I started understanding as I was starting is
that every single day, we do two things, right? We get dressed and we eat. So, if as citizens, we take an action with both these two acts,
simple, simple acts, then, you know, you touch on Food Inc., the documentary you helped produce. You touch on, you know,
documentaries at the time. The End of The Line, that
was, I can’t remember. It was so many years ago. About all the fishing, and then, with clothes, it was the same. It was like, okay, hold on a second. I get dressed every day. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting
industries in the world. Like, almost like oil, the oil
industry and mining industry, so when I found myself on the red carpet, I said okay, I can promote this issue through walking on the red carpet. You want fashion to
talk about human rights. I’ll give you fashion,
and that’s how we started, and then obviously, now we’re
experienced with Eco-Age. We started consulting on a
lot of different companies, a lot of different subjects
from mining agencies, with gold mining, diamonds, or whatever, but in 2014, I had the
privilege to produce this documentary called The
True Cost, which is on Netflix, and Netflix and all the other platforms changed the way today we consume movies. So, 12 years ago, when
the idea of Bright White, you were working and stuff, it was the biggest struggle
and I think this is why the creative industry
took so long to catch up because you were sweating years to do the most incredible movie and then no one would distribute it and you didn’t know where to see it, and it was a real labour of love, and today, it’s so much easier
because you put it online. – You and I both know that for audiences who do watch feature documentaries, they are very, very affected by them. We both know that. Kind of, Kumi knows that too, but I think what’s interesting to me is how do we break the storytelling in a way out of that
documentary kind of ghetto? And do we get it much more into
every other part of culture? Because we know what we do
is powerful in documentary, but that’s not gonna
reach everyone the best. Even with Netflix, I mean, these guys are kind of
nodding, regretfully. – It’s true. – Today, because of Greta Thunberg, because of all the
movement and the students, the audiences learn so much more. I think even us, we don’t
realise about the power, and when I produced The True Cost, which was about the impact
of the fashion industry and it’s an environmental
and social catastrophe, that documentary’s been
distributed in 64 countries and it’s still one of the most watched and it took us all by surprise, but because people want to know and once you find something creatively that really grasps your
attention and inspires you, you start talking about it, and you know, and I think today we have an
even bigger responsibility as a creative industry to
act and tell these stories because, you know, I know you are behind The Great Hack documentary, as well. – [Jess] As a small role. – A small role. I don’t know how many of you have watched The Great Hack documentary. If you haven’t, please go
and watch it on Netflix, but it’s how we have been manipulated. Today, we are totally manipulated, through social media and
the way that we act online, so the power of movies
is even more important, to take us out of that, you know, stupid smartphone that we live on, to really understand
what’s happening to us. – Yes, viva documentaries. But yeah, my frustration, and the reason I’ve been sort of doing
this work with Kumi is to really try to kinda widen this out to every other part of
the creative industry, and in fact, some of the people that we invited down to the ICA, people who work on the soaps, you know, actually, the Archers. Anyone here an Archers listener? No one will admit, but one
brave woman will admit. Two brave people will admit to. But you know, they’ve got a
sustainable farming storyline, and actually, this is, you know, we need everything in song lyrics. We need everything kind of everywhere and I feel like documentaries
have long been the vanguard, but we have to, if we can’t
kind of disseminate more widely, we’re not gonna get there.
– Look at the power of Attenborough’s Blue Planet. I mean, today, we’re not about plastic, we could argue, because of him. You know, we’ve all become so much more active on plastic because of him. – But we should all be looking
to BBC to do more, too, Lily. – Yeah, I was just gonna
agree with that point and say, actually, I’ve found
a recent thing is comedy and a few comedians who
are just being very funny and intensely political at
the same time is so effective and I think we do need a cross-pollination because I love documentaries, personally, but we can’t change the world
through just documentaries because they have usually
their own audiences and there are certain
people who just don’t watch documentaries, so
as you say, music, comedy. Like, we need to think cross-sector, and I was actually just
thinking about fashion, and I don’t mean fashion
in terms of clothes, but hearing you talk, me and Livia have known
each other for years. We’re like kind of the early community of like, eco-fashion people, which thankfully has grown massively, and I don’t mean fashion
in the narrow sense of like, what we wear, but rather, fashion in terms of culture, yeah. Like, what’s fashionable,
what behaviour is fashionable, which includes human rights,
and you know, gender equality and the different kind of fashionable ways we collectively think about problems, and in my experience, when
reflecting on your point about how difficult this
story has been to tell, across all sectors, I
feel like it’s suffered from being incredibly
unfashionable for a long time. When I was first starting working
in kind of sustainability, it was kind of a cliche of
like a hemp dress, you know? And my agent, I remember being like, oh, you’re worried that
you’re, what is it? You’re biting the hand that feeds you. There was this kind of sense
that it was almost like, being niche and negative,
not in a good way, and I think it’s become
incredibly fashionable, and with that, I think there
is hope that, you know, across all sectors, whether
it’s the radio or music or painters or you know, all
of the different thinkers, will bring this in subtle or
obvious ways into their work. – Well, on Wednesday at
the London Film Festival, there’s the Michael
Winterbottom movie Greed, which is all about this. It’s about fashion. It’s, you know, loosely
inspired by, not really, but Phillip Green is the
story of Topshop, basically, and today, in The Guardian,
there is a story about, Michael is giving an interview saying that Sony actually
censors the movie at the end because, you know, the movie’s a comedy so you laugh through out the whole film and then at the end, you get hit really, really hard with the truth, and you think, oh shit, you know? I’ve been laughing about
the things that are really, and you get hit at the
end with all the stats. Like, you know, the owner of H&M is the richest man on the planet and a garment worker in Bangladesh earns, you know, 60 dollars a
month and all of that and Sony made Michael take it away, and so, it’s one of the powers
of the creative industries. I mean, we’re living with the politics inside our industry as well. – Just a couple of thoughts. One of the things, and when An
Inconvenient Truth came out, we had a long talk about why we didn’t have anybody from the other side, which I’ve found one of
the most amazing questions I’ve ever been asked, and I said if we had made a
documentary about gravity, would you have wanted
somebody from the other side? And where could I meet that person? – There will be that person, too. There will be the
anti-gravity people, yeah. – I’m sure there are. But my concern sometimes is, you know, and some of these documentaries, like I said, are really great. There is a corruption of the form, though, that we’re actively participating in because ultimately these things
tend to represent our views and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It just really, you know, we are turning the act
of making a documentary, if, you know, you go
back and look at a film like The Titicut Follies
that was made in the States in the 60’s about mental
illness, ostensibly. We are losing what a documentary film is, just like we are losing an
idea about what news is, and you know, in the case
of an existential issue like climate change,
maybe that’s worth it, but I think the larger issue here is that we need to figure
out a way to tell stories. It’s really interesting. If a writer were to write a
great book about climate change, and I mean a novelist,
and there’s a great essay about this by a writer named Amitav Ghosh called The Great Derangement that I encourage anybody to read, but like, you know,
there were great novels written about World War 2 and they helped us understand
what World War 2 meant. Now, if a writer were
to write a great book about climate change, you
would find it in which section? You’d find it in science fiction, and if you talked to a writer, science fiction is somehow,
and this is not fair, but science fiction is sort of, you know, not as sophisticated and
serious as literature, and so I think that we have to look at how we’re doing this, and what I’m trying to do now is recognise that a lot of
the stories that we’re telling really are climate change stories. We just haven’t connected the dots. Syria and the immigration
problem that Europe is facing in any long view is a
climate change problem because farms failed and
people moved into cities and there were problems. In America, where we
talk about this caravan, well, a lot of this is
because farms are failing in Latin America, and
nobody wants to walk to the United States of
America, now less than ever, and so why would someone walk there? Well, it’s because their
way of life is in jeopardy, and you know, when you talk to
people at the United Nations, you know, they are very
serious about, you know, look what two million refugees from Syria did to Europe in the last few years. What do we think is gonna happen when we have 20 million refugees by 2040 or 2050 from Indonesia? So, starting there, starting
at the human problem, rather at the scientific side of it, is probably a good way to go, you know? I think every problem, and
that a writer might consider in every conflict and every relationship, is going to start to be
influenced by climate change, and so I think we have to sort of flip the script a little bit and start looking at the
human stories that we tell and see how climate change
is gonna impact them. – But why do we think we
haven’t yet seen these bold, imaginative, different ways of understanding the current
impacts or the future? Why do we feel we haven’t
seen these stories? Is it as Duncan says that actually this is genuinely difficult and different for writers to contend with? Have writers not really, like, grasped that this is where
they need to apply themselves? Is it kind of the disowners,
the people who are like, actually, we don’t want to go there. Is it a combination of these things, and how do we create a new
kind of wave and moment? Of course, famously, you
know, the New Deal, FDR, included huge money for artists. You know, the voice of storytellers and novelists and
painters was part of that and people are calling for that in kind of a Green New Deal. How do we inspire and
convince people at all levels in the kind of chains to
kind of move this forward? Or are we misunderstanding
what the barriers are? Are they within us as creatives or are they inside the system? – I mean, I have a question for Duncan. We’ve never met before but I
really want to see your play. But I think for me as a writer, you know, your first impulse is Cormac
McCarthy’s first impulse, which is do dystopia, you know? Go to what you think the end is, and we certainly saw that, and you know, dystopia was easy to imagine and easy fruit for a
conventionally Western narrative. – Yeah, and there’s a problem with that. Well, I mean, and it’s done brilliantly in Cormac McCarthy’s work,
but what do we do with that? But also, cognitively,
how do we process that when that’s fiction and that’s just one writer’s idea of what might happen? Because it’s so huge to process… It’s easy just to dismiss it, and I think our brains
will automatically dismiss when you go, well, but
that’s just imagined. That’s just fiction. So, I worked a lot with a
theatre director, Katie Mitchell. She, for a long time,
tried to develop a process to put this stuff on stage, to
tell these stories on stage, and she, not to speak for her too much, but she felt that, actually, you need to really put the
scientist who’s been there. The guy who has been
to Antarctica 15 times and has studied all of this stuff and has, you know, advised
Al Gore on various things. You need to put him on stage, talking about his experience
and talking through the facts, and so we did the show 2071,
which was a dramatised lecture, and some people found it very helpful and some people, most people, I think, were really cross that it wasn’t a play, and were really cross
that it was undramatic and boring and full of facts, and we tried to do something radical and put on the main stage the evidence and objectivity and tried
to actually do the opposite of what dramatists should be doing, which is take the emotion out of it and try to just, in a
dramaturgical argument, I suppose, this is what we know,
this is how we know it, these are the questions left, and this is what people
are doing in your name with this information, so it’s useful to know this information,
and it was, you know, a year and a half of speaking to Chris and doing a lot of research. Chris Rapley, the climate
scientist I interviewed for it, and then putting him on stage, but as a piece of theatre,
it was a total failure and I think we knew that going in, but it is, it is that cognitive dissonance about knowing it’s a piece of fiction. I think it’s tricky, and so, maybe one answer is to set
it in the present tense, because as you say, it is happening now. We are dealing with
the consequences of it. Frustratingly, in the
West, we are dealing with far fewer consequences
in developed countries than elsewhere, so our daily
life is not as impacted as other people’s elsewhere, and yeah. – I do worry about the trope of dystopia and how incredibly negative
and unhelpful it is and how we seem to kind of, when the climate does
get into the mainstream, that’s what it seems to be, and I wanted to share a
quote from a brilliant young African-American climate activist who’s part of the Sunrise Movement, and we were in a workshop together and he said this brilliant thing, which has really stuck with me ever since. He’s called Alex O’Keefe, and he said, “Utopian storytelling has
to be the progressive left’s “answer to the conspiracy
theories of the right.” And there’s something I
think really profound there that we’ve left open
the space of imagining and others have filled it and we’ve tried to come
there with our facts and actually that’s not a space
that you can fill with facts and I think it’s quite male, as well. I’m noticing that as well. This kind of dystopian fear driven. You should be afraid, or I think a lot of the feminist
movement around climate stuff is trying to bring the kind of, you know, more loving, restorative
sort of different emotion, and Lily, you know, you straight away at the beginning of this said, “Yeah, I think the emotional
is incredibly important.” And as artists and creators,
that’s our job, right? It’s to help to do that. What are your reflections on dystopia? – I was thinking, when you
guys were talking about the Handmaid’s Tale,
which I think is amazing, and has kind of that, because it’s very environmental, really. It’s like, how the environmental movement, how connected it is to
feminism and feminist issues and also how it could be used and I think they have
their places, dystopias, because they can kind of wake you up to like, ah, I don’t want
to be in that society. How do I avoid it? But I think it’s so important we also have models of better and utopia. I loved Simon Amstell’s Carnage. I thought that was kind of a fantastic, funny, utopian conversation
about veganism. I was actually gonna
add a different point, which is I wrote my
university thesis on utopia and my book I’m writing
right now is about optimism, so I’m on board with that logic, but what I was gonna
say is a different point I was thinking of when
you guys were talking, which is that so often I
think this conversation accidentally becomes about the environment or climate change as this
singular separate thing that we have to talk about or deal with, and I’d say most people, I hope by now, are like, bought into
the fact that it exists and that’s it’s a problem, and maybe there are kind of
other, more subtle conversations that we need to have, because
it’s not a separate issue. The environmental situation we’re in is a consequence of our culture, is a consequence of the way we’ve chosen to model our lifestyles, and I just had the conversation, actually, with a couple of friends last night who are involved heavily in XR this week, and I have full respect for
XR and what they’re doing, so I don’t mean to critique them, but I think there’s a danger of a kind of us and them attitude, which is
like, blaming the government or blaming the system and not realising we’re all actually part of the system and we need to take
responsibility for the system and part of the system is this idea of, as you said, infinite growth and kind of, you know, economic pursuit, which we are all to a Greta… Greta, she’s obviously in my mind. To a greater or lesser
extent, accidentally part of, and I think that’s such an
important cultural narrative that culture can play a part of, which is what is the kind of lifestyles that we are like, celebrating? What’s the type of way of
being with one another, day to day, that we’re celebrating? What’s the kind of human
culture we want to create and the value systems we want to create? Because those will, in effect,
affect everything else, and it’s harder, but I think culture has a big role to play and
that’s a very utopian discourse, and that probably would end up being a healthier
society, environmentally. – Can I just say that, whoever you sent that email to, (laughing) I wish I could find them now and ask them why they
made such a big mistake. That is absolutely spot-on. I think that the catastrophic
mistake we made in 1992 in Rio when the first Earth Summit happened was we allowed the issue of climate change to be framed primarily or
solely or overwhelmingly as an environmental issue, when clearly, it is a cross-cutting issue. It’s an issue of consumption patterns. It’s an issue about our
nature of our energy systems. It’s fundamentally about our food system and many other things. If I can just take one example, right, just to show you that
what is needed right now is very joined-up thinking and connecting a lot of dots, right? And we seem not able to do that. This is not the best example
I’m about to give you, but please bear with me. Before I joined Greenpeace,
I was a visiting professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, and when I arrived there,
the guy coming to meet me was a bit late and he apologised saying, “Oh, I’m sorry I’m late, “because I was on the Uppsala
Bus Management Company “board meeting where I
serve as a volunteer.” This is somebody from foreign affairs, so I said, “What was the problem?” He said, “Well, here in Uppsala.” This was in 2009. I was still learning a lot
of environmental stuff. He said, “Well, here in Uppsala, “we run our buses on human
faeces and we had a big problem.” By the way, that time in 2009,
I looked at him so blankly. He said, “Faeces, you know, shit, crap.” I said, “Yeah, yeah, I
know what faeces are. “I just didn’t know that you
can run buses on faeces.” This was 2009, and so then I said, “What’s the problem? He said, “No, in Uppsala,
we’ve run out of shit, “so we’re trying to get negotiate “to get shit from the
neighbouring municipality. “They wanna charge us
so much for their shit, “as if their shit is special, and so on.” So, I was intrigued by this, so the next day, I went to the
Uppsala Central Bus Station and when I walked on the bus, I was breathing as deeply as I could to see if there was any, you know, blow back in terms of odour. It was absolutely
beautifully smelling buses. So, I then go back to South Africa, where my government then was trying to build nuclear plants
and thank God we managed to defeat both the nuclear plant and Zuma, who was trying to drive it, and I end up at the
50th anniversary meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa, and so, one of the big problems we are having in South
Africa even, in Cape Town, one of the most developed
cities in the African continent, is disposal of human waste, you know? That same faeces and the stuff that comes out from
the other side as well. So, basically, we got
a problem with faeces. We got a problem with energy, so I go to this meeting and I say to the, these are the leaders
of the African Union. I mean, literally the presidents
of Africa and various. I said, “I heard about
this thing in Uppsala. “I heard that in England, in Bristol.” Bristol, by the way, runs its
buses on human faeces as well. Actually, it’s known as
the Poo Bus, I’m told. So, I said, “As an
African, I refuse to accept “that European shit is
better than African shit. “We just have to get our shit together “and turn the crisis of climate change “into an opportunity.” Because, basically, if you look at many of the challenges that we face, actually, we’re trying
to, as you correctly say, treat them in silos, right? And by trying to treat them in silos, we’re never going to
make progress on anything and we owe a big debt to
the feminist movement, when centuries, sorry, not centuries, decades ago, they gave us
this very powerful word. A concept, but a rather cumbersome word. Anybody know? Intersectionality, right? Where they said, to
advance gender equality, you needed to understand how gender intersects with race, class,
ability, religion, and so on, and similarly for every struggle, and certainly climate,
I just want to clarify. I loved all your comments, by the way, and if all you write letters to Amnesty, I promise all of you
will get things to do. But I just want to be clear
about the contradiction that we are balancing here. We have to find that right balance between speaking to power on the one end. We can not lie to people. Children get it. I mean, listen, I’ve been
so humbled by meeting some of these high school students. I mean, their understanding of the issues, they are making the
connections, by the way. They are not seeing it as just, you know, about carbon or they are making the issues about north, south, you know, the inequality in the world between developed and developing
countries and so on. So, I think it’s about finding the balance about how do we speak truth
to power on the one end. Don’t sanitise it, but
challenging yourself, and that’s why I’m saying that
your role is so important. To be honest with you, if
you ask me how to do it, I don’t have the skillset to
figure out how to do that, and that’s why Jess has been helping us and we’ve been working
together to try to encourage as many people in your industry to actually take this up
as a challenge to help us. How do we tell the truth, but do it in a way that doesn’t
get people thinking, well, it’s all screwed up anyways, so why don’t I just go
chill at home, you know? And that’s the danger here, and that’s why we have to
also say that the journey of addressing this issue,
we’re gonna make it fun. We’re gonna make it exciting. People are gonna learn new things. We’re gonna produce new things. We’re gonna treat each
other in different ways that actually announces our humanity rather than an economic system that constantly is creating
a handful of winners and a majority of losers. – So, Jess, I have a question for you, because you have been active
in this space forever. Can you give us a few examples of what the best movies or documentaries that you’ve seen that have managed to combine this, to achieve that? – Well, I mean, I kind of
agree with Duncan, though. I think we’re at a water ship moment when we need to really,
you know, address this and do this differently and I
look back slightly with horror at some of the films I’ve been involved in to see actually how they all fell into the same kinds of tropes, and we’re gonna need a massive diversity. A very good quote came
from a man who I work with. He said, “We need a
biodiversity of stories “as rich as the biodiversity
we seek to save.” And I’m continually seeing
funders and people in film who say, “So, what’s the
next big climate film?” And the answer is there shouldn’t be one. There needs to be like,
a thousand stories, and I wanted to quote
another brilliant organiser that we work with called Mary Heglar. In the US, she said, “We need to put “all other issues in context. “Climate change is the context. “It’s what the word actually means.” And that goes to your point. It’s like, everything needs
to be located within it, which is why I think it’s interesting we haven’t talked about, and
I’d like to spend a few minutes also talking about how much, at the same time as culture makers, we’re thinking about our
own carbon footprints in the industry that we work in, because I sort of agree Mary Robinson that actually looking
a little bit personally and making one or two changes, but without despairing into
guilt and the hair shirt, because I feel like culture makers seem to be asking two questions. One is, like, what is the carbon impact of the work that I’m doing? Can I be working differently? But also, have I considered
what the climate relevance is to the story that I’m telling? Because there probably is one, whatever it is that you working on, and it probably can be
incorporated in that way, rather than saying I need to
stop telling those stories and start telling the climate story. So, Mary Heglar, again, said, “We don’t need more films about climate. “We need more climate in our films.” And it’s sort of a bit more
of a universalized thing. – Oh, we need to understand that, as you said, it’s every single thing because you said it really beautifully. Like, a story about Syrian refugees is a climate change story, but none of us would ever
put it in that box, you know? So we need to understand that, well, Lily was saying, you know,
that we’re thinking in silos. It’s one issue, wherever we
look at it from, each part. – Yeah.
– The, sorry. – Oh, no, and I actually
have a question for you, because it’s the thing that I now spend more time thinking about than
anything, which is, you know, we made An Inconvenient
Truth, I think, in 2005, which ended up being a disaster, because in 2005, it was very human to say we have to solve these things before the end of the century. That’s sort of a trope
that a writer would have. Well, that gave us 95 years. We should’ve only given us 10, but what I’m now haunted by, and the thing that I really
wish someone would do some great social science on, is what is the event horizon
for any given human being? Because it’s not the same. It changes maybe if you have children. It changes maybe if you’re a farmer. It changes if you’re from a community that is facing rising sea waters. It changes if you’re in Africa
or if you’re in Los Angeles, and we need to recognise
that different people see this at varying
distances away from them, and so it’s not a
one-size-fits-all kind of story. – [Duncan] No, but
biodiversity of stories. – Well, yeah, and I
wish more than anything that we could understand,
and it is sort of a social science question
of where does a woman see the event horizon for climate change? Where does a parent? And that’s a conversation
that I think we need to really tease out to understand
some of the obstacles we have right now in reaching people. – I fully agree with
you, and I think that… Folks in this community,
including yourself, of course, have to help us. I agree with you that social scientists need to do some more work to help us figure out how to mediate that from both an activism side as
well as from a creative side. However, you are part of creating the social science knowledge
about it, you know? I mean, if I can just talk about one category that you spoke about. I mean, isn’t it extraordinary, if you’ve been following the Fridays For Future
movement, every country, who is 80% or 70% of the leadership in every country with the movement? It’s young girls. Every country, young girls are in the leadership of it, right? That must tell us something, and when I was, I’ve
been troubled by this. I mean, I’ve been happy to see it, because it addresses the, and it’s not that young
boys are not involved, but they’re so visibly
in a minority, right? And either the penny
dropped me for a little bit, and I’m not saying this
is the entire reason. When we were in New York at the march, and I saw, it brought me to
tears, to be honest with you. I saw these three young
girls walking together. They might have been sisters, and this one, they’re
carrying up a sign saying, “Sorry, mom, I’m not gonna be
able to make you a grandma.” Right? And by the way, this is a conversation I’ve had with young people, asking me, “Do you think it’s
responsible to have kids?” I mean, think about what we, as the adult generation of the world, have done to our children, that our children have
to ask these questions. I mean, we have actually
betrayed them already as a generation, let’s be blunt about it, and what’s important about
what she said, Scott, is a lot of the conversation
around climate change, as if it’s something that’s
gonna hit us in the future. Let’s be very clear. The reason a conversation like
this, taking place in London, might sound as if it’s still happening is because the people that are paying the first and most brutal
price of climate impacts are not the ones that have lead the most consumptive,
polluting lifestyles. Ironically, they are the
ones that are leading the lowest consumption lifestyle. I had a meeting when we were in New York with the Pakistani prime
minister Imran Khan, and he reminded me, you know, we had lots of controversial
things to talk about, but one of the things we
agreed really easily on was the impact of climate,
and he pointed out, you know, already in 2010,
20 million Pakistanis ended up being internally displaced people when they got hit with the completely freaky unexpected floods. I don’t know whether any of you know about those floods around 2010,
but 20 million people. How many of us remember it? Because let’s be blunt,
another thing about the media environment that we operate in, sadly, I would argue that the value of the lives of people of
colour versus white people is so, so drastically
differently valued, right? (audience clapping) That’s something that has to be addressed, because I think that there
would be more urgency right now if, in fact, the places
that were being hit by climate impacts was, for example, Mar-a-Lago, this place in Florida. For example, if the
Hurricane Durian covered it, maybe it would have, you
know, woken people up, because the way the
most powerful countries that drive the decision
making around energy systems, economic systems, and so on,
which your country’s part of, are not the ones with the biggest losses and the biggest devastation
is taking place, but be clear. We are losing, depending
on how you count it, we are losing an excess of
millions of people every year, right from 2009 already when foundations started, you know, capturing
the number of people that were losing their lives
as a result of climate impacts. – Kumi, we’ve got five minutes, so please, yeah, I’m
gonna come to each of you and you can say whatever
you would like, Lily. – I’ll say one last thing. I think that was a really
super important point to make, and I thought something similar, I agree with what Scott was saying about the need for social science to understand how people see this problem, but unless I misunderstood you, I was actually gonna caveat
the idea of an event horizon, as opposed to this really gradual, not that gradual, but gradual
process that we’re already in, because I think that’s a danger that feeds into the climate
scepticism that’s like, well, it’s not an
apocalypse yet, you know? And if it’s not an
apocalypse in five years, maybe we’re okay, and not
realising that, actually, in some places in the world,
it is almost apocalyptic, and we’re on a track that’s
gonna get gradually worse and there may be feedback
loops and tipping points that make it look apocalyptic, but it’s also quite
likely that it’s gradual. There’s a good book I’m reading
called We Are The Weather. It comes out I think next month. Penguin sent me it, and I
really recommend reading it. He talks about climate change as a cancer rather than a heart attack,
and it says that it’s like, there will be a tipping point, at which point we can’t
kill the cancer basically. – Thank you. Livia, what would you
like to say in conclusion? – Write, write, write
beautiful movies to inspire us, because, my God, yeah. We are screwed. (laughing) – And do you wanna– – I’m joking. – Do you want to say a
word about your work? Because you’ve done a lot of work with the BFI about production processes, and you know, how… – Yeah. – Who’s already thinking
about their carbon impact in their professional work and having those conversations at work? – Wow, fantastic. – But it should be, you
know, obviously every hand. Sometimes you need to be brave enough to be the one that
brings that conversation, but Livia, do you want to
speak to what you’ve seen? – Well, so we helped the BFI,
I think it was 2012 or 2013, to write the ISO standard
for sustainability in film and events, and we
launched it in that year, and now, I think, Albert is still driving, is it still driving the
sustainability effort? Because, you know, it is
a very wasteful industry with a big carbon
footprint, but I think… We go back to, no matter
what you do and who you are, whether you are the prime
minister of a country, the CEO of a huge company, we’re
all citizens automatically, so the way that we operate and we consume every
day, and the curiosity. I think one of the huge
hopes that I have is that through movies, through TV programmes, that we become more and more curious, and then, you know, being
curious helps us join the dots with all of the issues that, you know, all go under the umbrella
of climate change and that, until today, we have confined into something that is in a box that doesn’t really have
anything to do with us. I mean, I was having this
conversation yesterday about the Greta Thunberg
and the student movement, wondering, do we know
how many of these kids were on the street protesting? Then, as soon as the protest is finished, go back home and maybe go
to H&M and buy something or go to McDonald’s and eat something. It’s like, even in their
minds, the dots haven’t joined, so making movies and continuing, you know, challenging that this exercise is the most powerful thing we can do. And can we do movies on Instagram, because everyone is
obsessed with Instagram? Can we do with 60 second
movies on Instagram, so that, you know? – Duncan, how do we– – That’s a challenge for you two. – Duncan, how do we bring about a new paradigm of storytelling? You called for it. – Oh God, I don’t know. Plurality of voices. Argue for, you know, fight
against institutional racism and misogyny in the workplace and… Listen and pay attention to people and try and represent other people and look widely and share stories and advocate for other people. I realise the irony of saying
this into a microphone. I don’t know, I don’t know, but we’ve, I mean, what’s exciting about the different ways in
which we’re receiving content and films and things as well, that there’s more opportunities
for diverse stories and telling them in a different way. Not having as much, maybe,
anxiety about the kinds of things that get commissioned,
that there’s, I don’t know. I wish I knew. I’m excited to find out. – And we wish you fun as you find out. – Yeah. – Scott, closing thought? – Has anybody here seen or read Paul Hawken’s book, The Drawdown? It’s a really interesting book. – [Jess] Mostly written by a woman called Katharine Wilkinson. – [Lily] Oh, really? – The interesting thing is the… Does anyone remember what the number one thing that he suggests is? – [Lily] Refrigerators. – No, it’s that women, you know, women in countries where they’re having three or four
children need to be educated because educated women, statistically, I love that fact, but
I also hate that fact, because, you know, my concern is that some of these solutions, also, you have to be aware of the
culture you’re going into, and in some of those cultures, there are lot of reasons why women might be having those children, and so when we look at solutions, we also have to think and not, you know, not be white cis-gendered men who are making these projections on
how to solve this problem. – I’d love to talk to you
about that afterwards. I’m actually on the board of
Marie Stopes International, which is a huge global birth control and abortion organisation in 37 countries, and I can tell you that
when you offer women the opportunity to choose or
not choose family planning, they choose it, and there’s not much that’s culturally imperialist about that. Certainly, no women should have any choice to have or not have children forced on her in either direction. – I only bring it up as an example. – Yeah, no, totally. – It’s easy to project. – But actually, I was very excited by that part of The Drawdown, but actually tackling
patriarchy is in and of itself a really important part
of defending the climate, and here here to that. – On Saturday, I was in
Florence, moderating a panel, only with women about, it was entitled, will
women clean up the world? And, you know, I was
quoting Christiana Figueres, because she said it
really, really beautifully. She said, “Today, we know
that in the last 150 years, “humans have caused climate change, “and we know that in the last 150 years, “the power has been only men, “so something has to change
in the next 150 years “for sure, as a solution.” And one of the most
beautiful things was said by an indigenous woman from the Amazon, who was here a couple of weeks ago for the Flourishing Diversity Summit, and she put the climate change, instead of getting statistics, in such a beautiful, simple, simple,
simple way, and she also said, “What keeps me awake, “and what motivates me every day, is joy. “I have to keep fighting with joy.” – To fun, to joy, as we take on this existential thing together. Thank you, all of you. I know we’re over time. They’re looking at me, so we’re not gonna give Kumi a last word,
but thank you to Kumi. Thank you to Lily, thank you
to Livia, thanks to Duncan, and thanks to Scott.
(clapping) And thank you to all of you for coming.

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