An Ocean Plastics Field Trip for Corporate Executives Outside Online, 8 August 2019, Rowan Jacobsen
Crossing Oceans In Search Of Common Ground
“The subtropical island of Bermuda does not see many icebreakers, but on a warm May day, Dave Ford is standing on one, welcoming his uneasy guests aboard. Technically, the RCGS Resolute, 400 feet long and eight decks high, is an ice-strengthened expedition ship, one class below an icebreaker. But the choice still seems inspired, because as the factions of environmentalists and plastics executives arrive, the chill on the ship is palpable, and the only way Ford’s vision of some sort of Paris Accord for plastics is going to happen is if a whole lot of icebreaking goes down.”
Through the WI Lens
What happens when you put together leading activists and the senior executives of consumer goods and packaging companies aboard a small ship and sail them out to one of the world’s biggest rubbish tips of floating plastic? And the Greenpeace and Nestle reps are bunkered in the same small cabin just for added piquancy? This account of the world’s most unlikely environmental summit is fascinating not just for the anecdotes and the exchanges that take place, but equally for the exploration of a new kind of issue engagement that is based around experience. Imagine if you could apply this approach to every kind of conflict, so leaders of fast fashion brands were enticed to work in a Bangladeshi sweatshop for a few days. Or even the managers of your local fast food retailers could spend some time finding out about teenage obesity? Some leaders turned down the invitation but many others didn’t – and those who showed up seemed to be transformed by the experience. Could there be a smarter way to promote vital causes and resolve intractable issues in society than conventional protest and reputation management? This could be the blueprint.
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”
“All roads lead to a wellbeing anchor, whether that be economic/financial, physical, mental or emotional: all contribute to a progressive and inclusive cosmopolitan world. The answer should not be a choice of one or the other but of a joined up and compassionate solution for society, business and individuals.”
“The paradox is that we continue to do this in spite of recognising that striving to become ever-more productive is an intrinsically unhealthy behaviour, leading to stress and too often, a sense of failure.”
“The same broad-sweeping structural racism that enables police brutality against black Americans is also responsible for higher mortality among black Americans with Covid-19,” Maimuna Majumder, a Harvard epidemiologist working on the Covid-19 response, tells Vox.
The take-out from this? Wellbeing cannot exist at a more elevated level without our basic needs being met.