To address climate change, we need personal stories that inspire people and make them feel positive about the future, says Francesco Cara, co-founder of Cleanweb. The enterprise builds green digital services, including the web app If You Want To, which is the largest local guide to green services available globally.
By Sophie Knight
‘For younger people, climate change is a reality,’ says Cara. ‘It’s part of their world and they’re very keen to learn about it and find solutions and be part of those solutions. Among older people there’s still a lot of questioning about whether climate change is really an issue. Many older people ignore it, don’t want to engage with it. And many of those who are aware of the issue don’t know where to take action.
‘So I think an important challenge lies at the generational level. The language we use today to address climate change is very homogenous. Instead, we should have a personal language that speaks much more to personal histories and ways of living of different generations. Developing a multiplicity of languages and ways of engaging is a really massive challenge,’ explains the entrepreneur, whose life work centres around using the web to help people to live more sustainably.
An image of the future
‘In developing these stories, solutions are important. But solutions are only really meaningful when you have an image, or a representation of a different world that you aspire to. We should look more at creating the right stories and images that depict a different way of existing and being in the world. We need positive science fiction. I think this is really important.
‘We don’t lack solutions; we have plenty of them. What we lack, in my view, is a positive narrative of an alternate way of living which is fundamentally sustainable, and which integrates the changes that are happening in our world.’
‘Lots of documentaries, starting from the famous An Inconvenient Truth, cause anxiety. The beautiful French documentary Demain takes a different approach by presenting lots of people who are living in new ways. It’s a documentary that shows solutions instead of problems.
‘We know we need to fundamentally change the way we consume, produce and use resources. Somehow, the new things we do, the new services we develop need to have in them the capacity to transform the value chain. Design is incredibly well positioned to do that.’
This is an excerpt from an interview with Francesco Cara by Sophie Knight as part of STBY’s research in preparing briefs for the WDCD Climate Action Challenge. It first appeared in the WDCD publication: Good News for the Planet – 31 Brilliant Ideas for Climate Action (available for order).