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Seeing the forest and the trees

Published 29th Jun 21 - by Hayley Jarick

It is no secret that Sustainability practitioners over the last couple of decades have gravitated to an environmental bias. So much so that many confuse the term “sustainability” with “green” or environmental initiatives. Every environmental sustainability professional I know is deeply passionate and incredible affluent in their subject of expertise. From the general population, they usually cop the labels of “tree hugger” or “hippie” and are sometimes criticised for being too involved in the details of environmental issues to look at the situation as a whole. Or, ironically, that they “can’t see the forest for the trees”. However, among the sustainability community, they have always had the security and comfort of knowing that they are the favourite child, until recently.

The global COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act triggered many Australian companies to increase resourcing social sustainability initiatives over the last 18+ months.  So where does that leave environmental sustainability? Has the psychological safety and security of being the favourite evaporated? Has it left environmentalists feeling defeated and unmotivated? Has it left environmentalists feeling like they need to be perfect to gain attention?

Maybe, but to all the passionate and incredible affluent environmental sustainability professionals I know (and the ones I do not know yet) please remember that in aggregate we still need to see the forest and the trees! Please keep proudly, authentically, and unapologetically being your wonderful selves because we need people who are looking at the whole picture as much as we need subject matter experts in all areas to solve the wicked problems stopping us from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.