How to change the world slowly – and how to do it fast

by Daniel Batten on July 17, 2009

I was speaking to a friend about how environmentalists could do more harm than good to their cause if there was a lack of skill in the delivery of the message because this resulted in type-casting, and alienation. He agreed that the environmental movement had been characterised by protest, activism and lobbying, and that he was working on more proactive and fun ways to create change. “Inconvenient Truth” was so effective because it never blames anyone, it is ultimately a message of hope. AND – its told as a story. That’s why one skillful delivery matters more than 928 scientific studies.

The next day someone said they’d seen a couple of my publications on the environment in the Herald and a business magazine and wanted my advise on who were the good guys in the kiwisaver scheme. I admitted I didn’t know, but that there was a more effective way to create change than simply selecting the best one-. This was my reply:

Hi Philip,
Its great that you and others are taking the time to find out more and make decisions on this basis. Awesome! I know that Gareth Morgan has done a lot of large philanthropic acts and that Kiwibank is the only locally owned bank apart from TSB left in the country. I asked a friend of mine also, and am waiting to hear back. I also know that First NZ Capital does not offer green investment options. I encouraged them to look into it, but they said not enough people were requesting it to make it worth their while. So I took my investment out of there, and put it into a company that I felt took care of my social and environmental requirements.

Selecting someone on the basis of their ecology has some impact, but it will be limited because the non-selected companies never get to hear why, and I believe they need to, for change to occur in their behaviours. What is much more powerful is if you write a short email to each of them to the effect “Hello, I am about to select my kiwisaver provider and would like to consider you as my provider. However, I have a criteria that the provider should have a strong commitment to the environment and invest in companies that do not contribute to global warming. As we are entering into an age of consequences where such things can no longer be ignored, I am sure that you will be working or already have such options available. I would appreciate your response to facilitate my decision.

Best regards-”

This will have a big impact if you cut&paste email it to each one (which should only take a few minutes), and it will also give you a much clearer picture of the more proactive ones. It will be at least the 2nd time FirstNZ Capital hear it for example, and the third time they get this message they will raise it at board level and act.

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