WDCD Live São Paulo 2017 report: Day 1 / part 2

‘We need unusual coalitions’

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Published in Climate Action & WDCD by

In fighting climate change it can be helpful to involve unexpected partners such as rickshaw drivers school children, we learned on the first day of What Design Can Do Live São Paulo 2017.

It wasn’t all about technology on the first day of WDCD Live São Paulo (see report Day 1 / part 1), we discovered when Gisele Kato and Lucas Verweij, the moderators of this edition, invited designer and educator Jurgen Bey to the stage. Bey heralded educational institutions as the places where the future is always present and where everything still is shared. This goes for the Sandberg Institute – the master’s department of the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam that Bey leads – as much as for an elementary school in India.


Jurgen Bey / photo José de Holanda

Bey then explained how his studio Makkink&Bey developed its entry for the Climate Action Challenge, called the Water School. When he realized that an elementary school offers an entry to an entire community, Bey conceived the idea of building a new, entirely sustainable school together with the children that will go there, their families and related family businesses. Because in elementary schools all layers of society are represented, the knowledge about sustainable construction and production will quickly spread throughout all layers of society.

Is media our ally?

After an intermission by the singer Ekena with a feisty song on gender issues, the stage was transformed for a discussion between Naresh Ramchandani of Pentagram, Nicole Oliveira of 350.org and Elizabeth McKeon of IKEA Foundation on the role of media in the climate change discussion.


Naresh Ramchandani / photo José de Holanda

All three had five minutes for an opening statement, which Naresh Ramchandani used to argue that media in many ways are the cause for overconsumption, which is the main cause for climate change. Do The Green Thing, the organization he co-founded, tries to fight this with an anti-spell on the media spell by trying to present sustainable behaviour as attractive as media do for all these unnecessary consumer goods.


Nicole Oliveira / photo José de Holanda

Nicole Oliveira, who heads the campaigns of 350.org in Latin America against fossil fuels, deforestation and meat consumption. A dangerous job in Brazil where most environmental activists are killed of all countries in the world. In her work media are both an ally and a threat, because the press can help raise awareness, but also inform her opponents.


Elizabeth McKeon / photo José de Holanda

Rickshaw drivers

Finally, IKEA Foundation’s Elizabeth McKeon referred to a project in India that her organization supports, called Help Delhi Breath. This project learns that it can pay off to involve many unexpected allies to raise awareness and get things changed. The organization that fights against air pollution in the Indian capital, started with asking 90,000 rickshaw drivers to collect signatures for a petition among their customers. The involvement of children, medical professionals and provoking campaigns took the campaign further and helped it reach the international press. ‘Unusual coalitions is what we need to raise awareness for climate action and adaptation,’ McKeon concluded.

From the Climate Council, a three-person council aside of the stage with the right to interrupt at any moment in the conversation, Ana Toni, director of Instituto Clima e Sociadade, added that the climate discussion could benefit from a bit more humour and optimism. Oliveira and McKeon responded that we should realize that media is not monolithic and that lots of good news is spread for instance through social media too.

A musical intermission was presented by Ekena

A musical intermission was presented by Ekena

Ekena is known for her songs about interpersonal relationships and the struggle of being a woman in a sexist society

Ekena is known for her songs about interpersonal relationships and the struggle of being a woman in a sexist society

WDCD clearly captured the audience

WDCD clearly captured the audience

This edition of WDCD was moderated by Brazilian TV host Gisele Kato and Dutch design critic Lucas Verweij

This edition of WDCD was moderated by Brazilian TV host Gisele Kato and Dutch design critic Lucas Verweij

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