Voices of Sustainability: Tales from the Green Front Line

The last two decades since Kyoto Protocol and the various COPs have brought Sustainability, Environment and Climate Change as everyday terms in our lexicon. Millennials and even more Centennials have green as a defining value. Pollution, the first order externality in which sustainability is primarily framed impacts ordinary people from Beijing to Delhi to Singapore.

Sustainability operates and intersects at various hierarchies from the public sector to the private equity firms integrating ESG data to compute risk. Every decade, sustainability as a paradigm, theoretical and pragmatic, ideological and operational evolves as it has a conversation with emerging themes of the day. The future of sustainability report, maps a few major drivers of the narratives impacting the discourse; agriculture and AI.

Asia, where I have worked in three distinct sub regions is on an infrastructure overdrive to give its millions a life which is aspirational. India has its smart cities to Singapore with its Airport T5 and Cross Island MRT Line to the KL-SIngapore HSR, looking to create a twin city hub by 2026. These mega infrastructure projects will need green professionals providing their insights to make these projects, seamlessly sustainable. The Environmental Impact Assessment Reports of Cross Island MRT Line and HSR are available online and I admire the detail of these voluminous decks. But I wonder as an Sustainability Professional; how many people are aware of our work? Are we a tick box measure merely? Or can we truly inform a green future by operationalising green, with tech innovation and economics.

Sustainability professionals are the foot soldiers of the green era. Our voices are tucked away nearly in analysis and footnotes. We should be vocal like our economist counterparts by being better risk communicators. I would suggest early career professionals to voice out their perspectives through blogs, contributing to eco NGO’s and steering the local conversations. For more senior professionals, contribute in informing decision making through new methodology’s in shaping insights and collaborate in a tri sector athletic manner. As the world rebuilds new constructs, sustainability professionals should be agile to respond to the times.

Writing The Gulf: Tea Corners in the Gulf

Tea shops around petrol pumps in Muscat are important social nodes of interaction over a 100 Bz Karak Chai and an Indian Savory such as Vadai. These petrol pumps are the end of the supply chain assets, which offer last mile connectivity to the consumer, in the global circuit of petrocapitalism, with epicentres from Vienna to the oil fields of Al Wusta in Oman.

Expatriate workers are feeling the hit of a low oil price environment, with fewer jobs and a constant stream of one way tickets back home.

These ‘Bachelor Bodies’ (Ye 2014) have a moment of life lived over small sips of chai and nibbles of samosa.

Writing the Cities of the Gulf need a language which is fresh and new, and decoupled from the lens of western anthropologists which analyse everything from an exhausted vocabulary of resource flows and globalisation. The gulf has its own nuances with a social conservatism anchored in, with the eyes looking to a future of innovation and entrepreneurship.