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  • Writer's pictureVijay Krishnarayan

I'm In - How About You?

What are you going to do about it? I’ve heard that said so many times – often as a taunt and sometimes with menace. But it’s a question I’ve also asked of myself about the big issues that we all face and that sometimes seem so enormous or intractable. I’ve followed the intergovernmental discussions on climate change and had the opportunity to attend the 2018 talks in Katowice. You come away from those kinds of forums with an almost painful awareness that something more is needed to compel our institutions to make the step change that’s needed – but what?

Since July I’ve been helping get a new initiative started – one that makes it easier for each of us to take a step towards a more sustainable future. When I heard about Count Us In my first thought was that the time wasn’t right for a global focus on climate change when our collective energies were fixed on the pandemic. But I started to make the connections. Working from home, eating more healthily, hearing birdsong throughout the day. The time is right to commit to changing our behaviour in favour of the planet.

I joined a group of about 50 people from 17 businesses, social enterprises and NGOs to work in a way that I’d never worked before. In a radical collaboration, this network of committed colleagues took on the task of taking a simple but powerful idea and turning it into a tangible, viable proposition. With each of us working remotely and on a particular aspect of the whole, the thing took shape in time for its launch on 10.10.20 at Countdown.

I’ve been working on building the partnership of organisations willing to put their name to the idea. With no proof of concept, I thought this would be difficult. But the idea resonated very strongly with the people we talked to. We wanted to make sure we had 30 organisations committed. As I write on the day of the launch, we have more than twice that number. The number of founding partners was not as important as the range and spread. We wanted to demonstrate the broad appeal of the idea – and we’ve managed that. Businesses, cultural organisations, sports teams, local authorities, have come together from diverse geographies to make a commitment and wanted to be Counted In.

What’s the big idea? Count Us In is growing a community of people protecting what they love from climate change. It’s mission over the next decade is to mobilize 1 billion people to take practical steps from a menu of 16 that when aggregated, will make a significant impact in reducing carbon pollution and challenge leaders to deliver global systems change.

The billion that we want to reach are the “middle” audience around the world, many of whom lead carbon heavy lives and are not currently active on climate issues. We’ll be engaging with them through partners – the trusted brands and organisations that are already in their lives. We’ll be convening hubs (community organisations already working in this space) and getting champions (influential people) to spread the word: protect what you love; make changes that matter; and do good for you too. It will all add up to something bigger.

Count Us In is building a public good around its 16 steps. In addition to the central website, versions of it that can be made available in different formats to partners who can adapt the platform for use with its own particular audience. An aggregator will connect the back-ends of all versions of the campaign platform (and others such as the UN’s Act Now) so that all citizen actions can be combined and used to push for systems change. Partners have the flexibility to promote the actions that make the most sense for their constituency. The underlying and unifying message is: We all can take action and make a difference, together we can do it, citizens can do their part and get governments and businesses to do theirs.

Which of the 16 steps will I be taking? I’ve decided to work harder at reducing our household food waste because I always cook too much (it’s a West Indian thing). If we stick at it for two months this could result in a reduction of 82 kilos of CO2. Now that I’ve made a pledge, I’ll be getting tips and information from Count Us In to help us stay the course. I’m in – and what are you going to do about it?

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