In an inspiring talk on sustainability for TED, environmentalist, economist, and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner considers how great of an impact humans can have on the planet.
He begins his talk by speaking to his work with the United Nations, and how over the years, he's discovered that humans are at war with themselves when it comes to their survival. Although humans have better health, greater knowledge, and more tools to help them succeed now than they did many years ago, they are at greater risk than ever of making their own habitat unlivable. Steiner continues to show the irrationality of how humans interact with the planet, pointing to the problems we face with both food waste and insecurity, wealth discrepancies, and pollution. These issues have only been enhanced by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has revealed how these issues will continue to grow if nothing is done.
Steiner continues to state that systems do not change systems, however people do—no matter who they are. He says that this can be done through protests and by electing leaders that understand the importance of tackling climate change. As he demonstrates, countries around the world are already taking the necessary steps to implement renewable energy, provide more jobs, and improve the environment. With his talk on sustainability, Steiner shows how change is possible in unprecedented times, but also shows the devastating impact that inaction can have.