We all say we need to, but then..

We have good reason to look at government to fix the societal problems we face today. This is how we are taught and this is the reason we pay taxes. Security, health care, public transport…typical examples for which we rely on government.

Government is set up to do just this. Their organization is set up to take care of these tasks with different departments and a host of dedicated civil servants. In principle this is a centralized setup, although more and more tasks are de-centralized to provincial and local governing bodies. In all, a complex building that heavily relies on structure and procedures.

And then there is climate change, a problem for the system as a whole affecting almost every aspect of society. Mitigating the effects of climate change and preventing worse requires collaboration across almost every function of government. This poses a huge problem, because government with its (politically) negotiated setup of responsibilities and accountabilities is not designed to cope with such complex challenges. In my opinion the conclusion must be that current ways of governance will not suffice. Therefore the pervasive problems as caused by climate change, require a system change in governance. And, characteristically, system change requires all actors involved to change. Let me give a simple example:

Imagine your are sitting in an audience. The room is filled with neat rows of chairs, and all are occupied. Now, imagine what it will take for all those present to take up their chair, and turn it to face the back of the room. This simple ‘system change’ will not be easy. It can be done, but it will require careful planning and -most importantly- requires ALL to participate.

Climate change is therefore a challenge we ALL face, not only our government, but also our businesses, public institutions and citizens.

In a next blog I will share my thoughts how we can start the change.