Inquiry into ECO-FEMINISM, MINDSET and APPRECIATION FOR NATURE
- a report by Beyonders Foundation -
What is Our Future_Dealing with Climate Change?
Our Future_Dealing with Climate Change is a program of ten 15-18yr old girls from across the world that went on a 6 months journey together to learn more about how to fight climate change, learn about personal mastery and move from a feeling of hopelessness to feeling empowered as a change agent. This project started following the publication of the book If Nature Had a Voice, by Lore Van Onsem, which resulted in conversations with Darcy Winslow, Founder of the Academy for Systems Change and Magnolias Moonshot 2030 (MM2030) about Lore’s desire to learn more about climate change and especially feel less alone with her fears and desire to take action.
The program was created by Beyonders Foundation in collaboration with Sarah Spencer Coaching inspired by This is Us Pakistan and aimed to bring girls like Lore together, to empower and support them in their desire to have a positive impact. The 6 month program included a Climate Interactive Simulation workshop by Our Future participant and founder of Effective Climate Action Project Luna Abadia. We also had a guest speaker session from Force of Nature founder Clover Hogan on Eco-Anxiety and ongoing personal mastery sessions by Sarah from Sarah Spencer Coaching. Through individual mentorship links the participants had extra resources and support, and lastly we guided them on a project of choice related to climate change.
In this report we will share our learnings and hope to inspire the reader to some critical thinking, create a heartfelt connection and motivate you to become a catalyst for positive change. The findings and learnings are based on many interviews, secondary research and our own online survey. It is important to know that the below represents the voice of the Our Future_Dealing with Climate Change participants. This is your chance to listen to the voice of young female climate activists Emma Rocher, Aissatou Barry, Alice Hall, Eleanor Neal, Katie Underwood, Lore Van Onsem, Luna Abadia, Vanshika Agarwal, Ines Hart and Tiara Dhairyawan.
The topics of research that were chosen by the girls based on their personal interests were: ECO-FEMINISM, MINDSET and APPRECIATION FOR NATURE. In the following sections we recap their key findings and recommendations for (business) leaders as we believe understanding these concepts better and their impact better can unlock climate action. That is our invitation to you!
1. Eco-Feminism is not just a concept, it is real.
71.2% of our own survey respondents do not believe there is a correlation between climate change and gender inequality. After our research, we have a different point of view…
In 1974, Francoise D’Eaubonne argued that there was a link between the liberation of women - or gender equality - and the liberation of the environment from human destruction. For many centuries women have been pivotal in solving deep conflicts, successfully peace-building, rebuilding post war countries, managing productivity of farms, family planning, and climate leadership. The leadership capabilities of women, known as female quotient (FQ), are empathy, compassion, intuition, inclusivity, ecology, deep listening and community focus. This in contrast to traditional male attributes like power over others, authority, exclusivity and decisiveness. Now, speaking about gender as a binary when we consider concepts such as eco-feminism can be problematic, as any person can exhibit all the above mentioned qualities. It’s also important to recognise that these traits we deem “feminine” were shaped by the societal roles that have been ascribed to women for centuries, varying by culture. However these FQ traits seem to come more natural to women.
Women are underrepresented in boardrooms, governments and key decision forums. Only 25% of national parliamentarians are women and only 22 countries have women in the highest political positions. In our interviews with female leaders, it became clear that they are fighting this on a daily basis. Whether it is overcoming judgment as working mums, conscious or unconscious bias, and breaking through male dominant conversations and ways of making decisions. On top of this, 80% of global climate refugees are women.
Since companies decision making has been dominated by men for decades and growth, profit, extraction of wealth has been dominating the decision making, sustainability has not been high enough on the corporate strategic agenda. Hence we find it not hard to argue that more FQ in decision making through female leaders will bring diverse and critical viewpoints that will allow businesses to make more informed decisions surrounding sustainability. This is why Eco-Feminism needs to be discussed more in businesses and communities.
We hope that businesses take steps to prioritise gender equality in the workplace, support female workers from executive positions to factory workers, as well as both acknowledge and push for a heightened focus on the benefits of uplifting women and undertaking ambitious climate action.
Our call to action for leaders based on our research of ECO-FEMINISM are:
Empower more women in leadership positions as that will naturally increase the FQ in your decision making as a company, leading to increased sustainability focus
Integrate sustainability in every section of your company, not as a separate department
Drive purpose over profit
Collaborate across and within industries as we will need everyone’s effort and collaboration
2. How your personal mindset can make a difference.
We have done our own survey to understand what the population’s current mindset is towards climate change and how people/businesses can change it into the ideal mindset. This question raised from our perception that so many people seemed to know about the issue, but do not take action linked to the urgency we believe is needed.
We found that only 50% of the respondents feel they are partially responsible for creating change versus 85% believing companies are responsible for solving these issues and 65% feeling companies don’t do enough. When we asked what they thought were the reasons for this perceived lack of action, the word cloud below was what came up.
We also found in our survey that regardless of the age group of our respondents, over 80% have negative or low feelings on the emotional scale related to climate change as you can see in the graph below. This means most of us are pessimistic, negative, overwhelmed, worried, frustrated and disappointed…. Especially the younger respondents feel eco-anxiety multiple times a week or daily, so it is a big part of their lives. The underlying feeling all generations seem to have is feeling powerless… Even more striking is the fact that over 90% of respondents either have no coping techniques or try to avoid thinking about it by distracting themselves with other things.
Based on research from Force of Nature, founder Clover Hogan explained to us that the way to overcome eco-anxiety and to move from hopelessness to action is to change the stories we tell ourselves. The stories where we tell ourselves that climate change is too big for me to change, it is up to others with more power to create change! Instead Clover urges us to choose one single problem linked to climate change that we care about. Secondly, we should ask what story we are telling ourselves that gets in the way of taking action. And then, think of one thing you can do to challenge that story. These 3 steps allow us to move from hopelessness to action and they are available for all of us.
Our call to action for leaders based on our research on MINDSET is:
Follow the 3 steps as outlined by Force of Nature to change your mindset:
Select the one area of climate change or sustainability where you, your business or your consumers care about.
Ask what story you are telling yourselves that gets in the way of taking action
Think of one thing you can do to challenge that story… start there!
3. Reconnecting to our appreciation for nature can unlock climate action
The trigger to learn about the importance of climate change and desire to do something about it for one of our participants, Vanshika, came from the amazon rainforest fires in 2019. She researched more into this for a project in high school. Her key findings at that time were that the amazon rainforest is controlling 6-20% of the worlds oxygen levels, being the home for over 3 million species, a vibrant eco-system sustained by more than 2500 tree species. WWF says people depend on the Amazon not only for food, water, medicines, but to stabilise global and regional carbon and water cycles as it contains 90-140 billion metric tons of carbon. Through her appreciation for nature and by realising the devastation these fires created, she realised she wanted to do more. And we believe this is a recipe for others to get involved.
But how can we appreciate more? By making a conscious decision to spend more time in nature, to notice more, to slow down, By making a practice of appreciation. By taking time each morning to write down what you appreciate you start the day positively and can build momentum. Appreciating helps you to see the best in everything - you shift your perspective, and you look for points of appreciation. When you see the best in someone, you evoke it in them, therefore you care more when you appreciate more. When you feel affection for nature, are attracted to its beauty, appreciate its resources, you value its role in your intellectual and spiritual development and its importance for our future humans. So, appreciation for nature and for ourselves are intrinsically linked. When you appreciate nature and you learn more about it, you want to help protect or regenerate it.
Like Vanshika, Alice also began to learn the importance of nature through learning about climate change, specifically the coral crisis, which she based a school project on after learning about its significance. In her research she found that coral reefs are dying at an exponential rate, where between 2016 and 17 over 50% of the great barrier reef had been bleached, caused by the rising temperatures as a result of climate change. This is extremely dangerous since 25% of all marine life directly rely on the coral reef and over half a billion people for food, coastal protection and income. Understanding and appreciating the coral reef’s importance for our planet and its role in our society too, catalysed her into action
Our call to action based on our research on APPRECIATION FOR NATURE:
Include appreciation for nature in your daily life and let it become a drive for action
Investigate the importance of what you appreciate most of nature
Ask yourself where climate action is on your priority list and why
We hope these insights from our project are a call to action for your own journey of climate action. Feel free to contact Dirk Van Onsem at firstname.lastname@example.org for more questions about our project or to get in touch with any of our participants or partners we have referenced which are listed in the sources and links section below.
Sources and useful links
Beyonders Foundation: www.beyondersfoundation.com: Beyonders Foundation is a nonprofit organisation that aims to create a network of leaders who are capable of raising the consciousness within a system and catalyse actions that help to create a world where everyone and everything can flourish. For this we believe leaders need to develop personal mastery, understand or master the art of collaboration and dialogue as well as be able to co-create a future vision that serves the world.
If Nature Had a Voice: https://www.beyondersfoundation.com/if-nature-had-a-voice-1: If Nature Had a Voice is a short book about a girl struggling to find a place for climate change in her life. She learns about the reasoning behind human's complicated relationship with nature, the chance humans have to survive climate change, and more. This book will inspire you to make different choices in life that prioritise sustainability and will help you understand the urgency of change.
Sarah Spencer Coaching: Sarah Spencer, a Business and Master Practitioner of NLP, has spent over 20 years in sports and fashion brands, before establishing a successful business herself in Personal Mastery and transformation. Sarah combines her knowledge of business and personal development to design customised learning experiences for those who are open to expanding their experience of life. Sarah’s workshops and coaching experiences are intuitively run, guiding participants through their own personal journey of transformation, whilst learning and benefiting from the collective group environment, leaving with clarity and energy ready to take the next steps. Contact Sarah via instagram: @bestdamnyou
Magnolia Moonshot 2030: https://www.mm2030.org/: Magnolia Moonshot 2030 (MM2030) is a new narrative for women’s leadership, creating the conditions to activate our collective power to address the greatest challenges we face today. By convening networks of women leaders who are urgently addressing the climate crisis, MM2030 amplifies our collective ability for positive impact.
This is Us: https://thejaulianproject.com/this-is-us-2/: Jaulian Project believes in creating a community of confident and empathetic leaders through youth empowerment and gender inclusivity. To this end, it has incubated a social enterprise ‘This is Us’ founded by two young girls Tia Aftab and Dina Aftab, who wish to see an egalitarian society with equal access to public and private spaces for girls. As an organization, This is US hopes to create a community of care for young girls, where they can seek each other’s support, share their ambitions and struggles, and dream together a future that promises them equal opportunity in education, healthcare and workplaces.
Force of Nature: https://www.forceofnature.xyz/: Force of Nature was founded in 2019 by then-19-year-old climate activist Clover Hogan, in response to the growing eco-anxiety she saw in her generation. Today, FoN’s team is made up of the very young people we seek to serve. Our impact continues to grow thanks to the contributions of our volunteers, advisory board, and a student network across 50+ countries.
Effective Climate Action Project: https://www.effectiveclimateaction.org/: The Effective Climate Action Project is a youth-led environmental organisation located in Portland, Oregon, with a mission to promote effective and systemic solutions to climate change. We elevate environment-related opportunities, organisations, and information as well as advocate for current environmental legislation and policy in Oregon. A fundamental part of our work is facilitating climate simulation workshops, designed by MIT and Climate Interactive, to inspire others to advocate for ambitious environmental action. Join us in taking action by checking the “Take Action” resources in our Instagram profile,
Empowering women and climate change YouTube educational video: https://youtu.be/25aNiGPZBcg
Scilla Elworthy on FQ: https://www.scillaelworthy.com/deepening-feminine-wisdom/femmeq/
Women and peace: Scilla Elworthy on role of women in conflict resolution https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I2Pe1XI2WU
Eco-feminism definitions: https://www.britannica.com/topic/ecofeminism
Ted Talk on Eco-Anxiety by Clover Hogan Force of Nature: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oyVDRosO74
Own survey created by participants available upon request.
On Appreciation for Nature
Article how gratitude helps motivate us to become better people: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_motivates_us_to_become_better_people