This is not an article about the results the leading parties or understanding any of that, we have a lot of staff, which is much more indicated for that as they know much more about it. What I want to talk about is the repetition of a spiritual journey I’ve had before.
I am a Business Studies undergraduate, but before becoming that I was about to become a Politics and Economics student. As a kid I always felt politics was the way to change, as I saw it being the main barrier for change in my country (Portugal). If it can be such a big barrier, then it must be also the biggest driver for better.
Just after the 2009 European Elections I came to London for a visit and it was scary. UKIP got 13 seats, compared to Labour’s 12 and the BNP got 3. 16 seats for the far right scared me because this was the country I was about to move to and it was becoming more Eurosceptic. It was not long after that I changed my course choice to Business Studies, feeling bogged down by Politics. I still feel this was the right choice for me. Today politics has disappointed me again, but for a completely different reason. It is also making me turn away from reliance on it again, but to a completely different area.
Whereas last time I was disappointed as an emigrant within the Eurozone who was looking to study politics, this time I’m disappointed as an Environmentalist who is looking to make a change in that area. I’m at a point in my life that the more the Eurozone deteriorates the more I want to leave it, but what bothers me isn’t that, it’s that this switch to a very Eurozone focussed debate is a huge blow to environmental policy. The conversation now is taking the form of “there should be no Eurozone”, at a time where the Eurozone is one of the biggest blocks within global environmental legislation. If at the core of environmental change no change will be made over the next five years, how will we make sure that the world gets off the path of environmental degradation? The pressure the Eurozone could apply as a block globally is deteriorated when only a few countries will continue the agenda as adamantly as before. The pressure on individual Eurozone countries to change will also be gone without a unified environmental pact.
The talk will be less on recycling or waste reduction, Climate Change, circular economy, WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) directives and the integrity of the whole will be compromised too.
Just like in 2009, my reaction to this has been that we cannot rely on politics and policy to drive the change, so that gives me at this moment two places where I could put my trust on: business and my generation. As much as I’m a business student and I believe business CAN drive to a change in environmental practice, as they can lead ahead of politics and policy even, I don’t believe they WILL in the next 5 years. Too many companies have the vision of profits over other considerations to understand how the sustainable angle might bring them more reliable profits. As such I need to put my eggs in the basket of my generation. And that for me, right now, means universities. If students and universities as a whole can incubate and prove the effectiveness of environmental practice at this level, then they have students leaving their hallowed halls with belief that these are solutions for the present, not a distant future.
Curriculum is all well and good, it’s quite important, but already very widely in place. What is seriously lacking is practice. If universities could Show students that these are current solutions, it will mean that these students, the future of our work force, of our political and business landscapes, that all from the most important CEO to any voting citizen can feel that climate change isn’t just a distant problem with even more distant solutions.
As such this is what my thesis is geared towards, and I believe that if this generation can be ingrained in the problems and opportunities inherent in the environmental sector, it could drive the change we need both in the short and long term.
To finalise this piece written on the hangover of a depressive European political landscape, I have not lost the hope in politics as a whole, there is still a huge role to play for the environmental sector, but I currently don’t trust it to Lead change, instead policy will need to be shaped by change, and as that is the case, leaders are needed. That’s where I want to play a part.
Benjamin Tirone Nunes