At the end of January, I had the honor and the pleasure to meet the President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid in the framework of a panel discussion during the Clean World Conference 2017 “Connecting Heroes”, in Tallinn, Estonia. As you can see at the photo above, the other panelists were Asher Jay, a creative artist and National Geographic Explorer, and Jeff Kirschner, founder of Litterati. The panel coordinator was Nara Petrovic (by the way Jeff has made a good summary of the first day of the event here).
I was positively surprised by the President of Estonia for two reasons. First for her presence in such a discussion and second for the content she delivered.
First, the President of Estonia participated in an almost two hours discussion about waste and resource management. By doing this, she highlighted the importance of waste and resource management in a unique way and upgraded it substantially in the political agenda, not only locally but globally too. A President that finds time to deal with waste and resources proves by her own example that waste management is a key indicator for the quality of our daily lives.
Second, the President of Estonia stressed the importance and the lessons we can learn from waste management in a broader context that includes wasted energy, CO2 emissions and wastewater. She also focused on the ways members of the community can solve problems by themselves and can start grand movements through small actions. She recommended starting the implementation of big changes through small changes — all people can find their own way of doing something for the society and the environment. By the way, this is exactly the same key-message that was recommended by the Global Waste Management Outlook: start the change building on the current strengths of each and every waste management system and keep working focused on continuous improvement rather than waiting solely for huge investments and projects.
I think Kersti Kaljulaid sets the scene for a new kind of politicians that each and every country desperately requires. Even more importantly, her example highlights not only what is absolutely necessary, but also what must be avoided. In the era where political disruption becomes the rule and not the exception, the President of Estonia provides a new role modelthat could reshape politics in a positive way.
We need Presidents, Prime Ministers and politicians that will find the time to discuss and interact with scientists and experts. The ones that reject science as the basis for any kind of policies are dangerous for their countries and the planet.
We need decision makers that will stimulate community involvement as a major precondition for social improvements, especially for the shift towards a Circular Economy with positive social footprint. We must get rid of the governance model that is based on the interests of small business club elites.
Last but not least, we need Presidents, Prime Ministers and politicians that understand the dynamics between global principles and local practices, individual choices and global footprints. The ones that ignore the interconnectivity of risks and the complexity of our globalized world are putting all of us in high multidimensional risks.
Thank you President Kersti Kaljulaid, the world needs and deserves more leaders like you. More Kersti, less Donald…