My COP26: Why I hid on a farm, and without FOMO

In August this year, when the IPCC released its first report, our hearts sank. And with it, many lost their optimism and sense of ambition. You may remember the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, announced a Code Red for humanity. For those of us working in sustainability this was a bitter (yet inevitable) moment.


Today, Eco-Age‘s North Star lies on Naomi Klein’s reminder that we have a huge opportunity to implement a “Marshall plan” for the future of our society – a major operating system upgrade, a plan to roll up our sleeves and actually get the job done”.

“Getting the job done” is why this time I hid myself away on our working family farm, where my brothers produce organic crops for the local towns. Honestly it felt more productive to be part of the harvest than part of what Greta memorably branded, ‘the blah blah blah’. 

As the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, put it at COP26, “how many times are we going to say the same thing over and over and over? We can’t do that anymore. How many leaders have to come to this podium to tell the same things? What is the relevance of an international community that only comes together and doesn’t listen to each other? That only talks and will not talk to each other?”. We are still waiting for answers to her illuminating questions.


Quintosapore, our organic and biodynamic family run farm

And while we wait, Eco-Age continues to stride forward. ‘Rolling our sleeves up’ is something we focus on at Eco-Age. After ten years persuading many different demographics and partners to build deep and meaningful sustainability strategies, we have arguably never felt so energised or such a sense of purpose. Yes really! Despite the desperate Code Red backdrop. 

Most crucially our work at Eco-Age recognises that climate policy (and therefore climate summits) should be led by a new constituency of leaders. This is why we recently devised The Renaissance Awards, the first awards dedicated to young leaders (available to watch on YouTube). I defy you to watch our 45 minute film and remain unconvinced that these are the people who we need to lead us into a future.

A still from The Renaissance Awards featuring awardee, Cherrie Atilano, the founder and CEO of AGREA

Some – though not enough – of the diverse, global new generation of leaders did attend COP26. But even when they managed to overcome the many barriers – vaccine inequality, cost, lack of allocation of passes and spaces – and were able to get to Glasgow, they often found that they were held at arm’s length and not given the real seat at the table that their experience, courage and knowledge deserves.

Yet, their energy was powerful and was felt all over the world. As Greta Thunberg said: ‘we are going to make the change no matter what’. Every day you can witness this happening and it is this energy and uprising that gives me hope, and fuels our work.

The Climate Activist and Indigenous Rights defender Leo Cerda, also reminds us that one of the most urgent tasks must be to decolonize the climate crisis: “This is the reason why we need Black Liberation, Indigenous Sovereignty, and Migrants Rights. They all go hand in hand. This topic is very important because we are going to talk about the intersectionality of the climate crisis and the social justice movement and the racial justice movement. In order to have solutions we need intersectional solutions”.

It is this energy, this drive and this logic, so wholly and powerfully invested in equitable change and climate justice, that now drives us at Eco Age. And it was that work that kept us busy over two weeks when ‘the world’ (in its most limited and reductive sense) met in Glasgow. A new era, or new renaissance, starts this year. The last 10 years for us at Eco-Age have been about laying the ground for what starts now. We are ready and excited. This energy is intoxicating.

Do you agree?