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"Conversations with Kasper Bjørkskov: From Architect to Activist - Unveiling the Path to Collective Change"

John Carter
March 5, 2024
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"Conversations with Kasper Bjørkskov: From Architect to Activist - Unveiling the Path to Collective Change"

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NEWS: We have just launched our new community ‘CIRCLE’ - A Private Community for Ethically Conscious Designers and Changemakers CIRCLE - A Community for Ethically Conscious Designers & Changemakers

Fast-track your career with our 12-week training programme: Coaching & Mentoring for Innovators & Change-Makers with Gerry Scullion

In this episode, I speak with Kasper Bjørkskov. A former architect and activist based in Copenhagen. We speak openly about his role within the existing systems in society, and why he switched from architecture to activist. What triggered this? And also, what is he striving to achieve?

He’s extremely passionate about raising awareness of what we do as a collective and what we need to do more of within the complex systems of impact around climate change, sustainability, and initiating more and more communities to change for the better.

He’s a truly wonderful guest, you’re going to love this one.ørkskov-660a4899

Episode Transcript

This transcript was created using the awesome, Descript. It may contain minor errors.
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[00:00:00] Gerry: Kasper I'm, I am really excited to speak with you. I've been following you on LinkedIn for a number of years. And I recently connected with Ian, you know, reached out and asked, would you come on the podcast? So, I've been excited about having this conversation for a couple of weeks.

[00:00:17] but for people who don't know, or don't follow you on LinkedIn in particular, how would you describe what you do?

[00:00:25] Kasper Bjørkskov: Yeah.

[00:00:26] And thank you for having me. First of all, that's a huge pleasure and I've been binging your, all your episodes. So I'm really, really excited to be here and yeah, my name is Kasper and basically I would argue that I'm a consultant activist and my main focus is around planetary and social boundaries, which I've been using the last eight years to try to operationalize these.

[00:00:49] So we can actually start. seeing some actions, especially in the built environment, because I'm a trained architect. So that's been my primary focus.

[00:00:58] Gerry: Very good. So how do you define or find the pieces to focus on at the moment? Like, what does that look like for Kasper to say, okay, next week I'm going to focus on this. What does that look like? 

[00:01:11] Kasper Bjørkskov: I mean, I, as any sort of systems analysis and analyst, I think I've been sort of trying to be like a generalist in most areas and try to put the pieces together as well as I can. So what I try to focus on is actually how to understand the systems and how to reconnect them so they actually start working for people and not just for financial assets.

[00:01:34] And so my. job. And the way I approach this is always sort of like a human centered design thinking mixed with a system thinking to really sort of integrate what is the, what's the need for people and what's the need for the planet and the system at the same time.

[00:01:49] Gerry: very nice. So you're a trained architect, and you've been working in, I guess an extended version of architecture, I guess, because it's important, it's part of the same remit, I guess, but what is it about the traditional form of architecture that didn't interest you and got you into this world of architecture?

[00:02:14] Kasper Bjørkskov: I think like, when I graduated, which was, it's 15 years ago, architecture had moved, it had had sort of a really weird evolution from being about Doing good for people and building vernacular vernacularly with local materials and understanding the site and context and it was more like an art form in a sort of opposition to that came this new modernist modernism where we sort of started looking at form rather than function.

[00:02:44] where all the skyscrapers has to look like perfume bottles. And I even worked at a Bjarke Ingels Group, which is a really famous architect for three years doing all that. And I immediately sort of understood how superficial and wrong this approach was because it's not only sort of degrading the environment, but it's basically just.

[00:03:03] Building these monuments of doom for very well wealthy clients. so, so I sort of said, okay, I have to do something else. So I, I ended up sort of quitting and getting a job at, where now called effect architects and immediately, found, like-minded, peers here. And, we decided to, to set up sort of this research and design, studio that I've been running.

[00:03:26] Inside this office for a while now.

[00:03:28] Gerry: Okay, and that's copy left, is it?

[00:03:31] Kasper Bjørkskov: No, it's called effect architects, but copy left is basically my way of saying everything I do online is always available to everyone. So it's, I don't, so copy left is basically a term that seems that you can, everyone can use it. So I will never be in a copyright on anything I do. That's,

[00:03:48] Gerry: Ah, okay, yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, very cool, very cool. I see it

[00:03:52] Kasper Bjørkskov: it's just to say that people can always use it.

[00:03:55] Gerry: Yeah, absolutely. So, as regards, when we were talking there earlier on, and there was a piece there that you mentioned, it was around finding your tribe, and I think there's power in the fact of finding like minded people. Like, and when I saw you online, I was like, okay, I, I know we're gonna have a good conversation.

[00:04:14] We're gonna talk about similar stuff. There's definitely a movement happening where people are finding their tribe, kind of easier, I guess, over the last decade, I suppose, with all the social media and podcasts and communities and so forth. What is the objective in your perspective of finding your tribe and what does that do and what's the, the sort of, the potential amplification that we're hoping to achieve by finding our tribe?

[00:04:43] Kasper Bjørkskov: I think like, for me, it's been, a mentally sort of, welcomed, exercise because when you work with planetary boundaries and ecosystem collapse on a daily basis, it's, it's really nice to have others to talk to about this, sort of really difficult subject. So I think in one sense, tribalism can be super fruitful in, in, encouraging you to continue and helping each other and collaborating.

[00:05:08] I also think if there's an issue that we have to be aware of is that we really quickly come into these eco, eco chambers where we just talk to each other and then we sort of forget the people that we actually have to start mobilizing. So I think that's a, there's a. Big benefit in the tribalism, but there's also a, yeah, a danger of us not actually having any impact with this.

[00:05:33] Gerry: So whenever you're connecting with your tribe, is it a, is it a version of like, Hey, I'm, I'm not alone in this mission. There's, there's numbers here. You get ideas from the community and potentially try and evoke a positive impact. Is that, that's kind of what I'm hearing. So what is the positive? Yeah. What is that positive impact?

[00:05:55] What does it look like in the short term for you? What, what are the things that you feel that we can achieve in our lifetime?

[00:06:04] Kasper Bjørkskov: I mean, I think, I think one thing that's been really, really fruitful is a cross sectoral collaboration, which is very difficult to actually achieve. Or at least just five years ago, it was almost impossible to have this cross sectoral collaboration that we see now. So with the tribalism, people meet from all sorts of walks of life, all sorts of industries, and then they can form a community to really try to work across sectors to do something meaningful.

[00:06:29] I think one of the best examples I have on this is that in effect where I work, we actually got climate scientists, engineers, architects, the entire construction industry around, trying to translate the planetary boundary for climate change into a road map. For how fast we need to reduce the emissions, which turned out to be actually super powerful because we couldn't have done it alone.

[00:06:54] And all of a sudden it gave the industry in Denmark a target, which meant that all the big developers now knew what they had to own up to, in order to, to, to agree with the Paris Accord. So I think like this cross sectoral collaboration, if done right. can change the world, very fast.

[00:07:13] Gerry: So when they come together and they collaborate and we create some sort of alignment and potential for small improvements that are actionable, where, where are the opportunities there in terms of, is it at the policy level or is it at the organizational level or is it at societal level that you tend to feel the most opportunity to evoke change?

[00:07:37] Kasper Bjørkskov: I think it's really difficult to see it on the political level or the policy level, even though I still try to influence it. But I will, I will say I'm most hopeful in the social tipping points of people. Actually seeing, what has just happened with post growth and de growth movement within the last two years has made me super.

[00:07:57] positive around that there is enforcing, there's change coming.

[00:08:02] Gerry: Yeah,

[00:08:03] Kasper Bjørkskov: I think in that sense, it's, it's really, really powerful. And I hope, I think it's the way to go, to be honest, but I don't have all the answers.

[00:08:11] Gerry: absolutely, I don't think anyone has all the answers and that's the one of the sweet spots that we, we potentially find ourselves in is the acceptance to say, well, I actually don't know, but I, I know that the problem, like we can't deny the fact that you were saying there last week, it was Kasper's birthday two weeks ago, folks, big, happy birthday to Kasper.

[00:08:30] We're going to sing it in unison in our car. but you know, Kasper is based in Denmark and you said it was 27 degrees. Yeah. Peace. And we can't deny some of these things, so those, some of those factors are just plain and obvious. Now, like it was 27 degrees, it was 37 degrees two weeks ago in Sydney in spring and, you know, 27 degrees in Dublin here.

[00:08:54] It's not normal. I'm looking at my, my trees in my garden here and, they're sprouting, there's buds coming out again. They don't know what's going on and it's. It's scary. Like, you know, it really is. It's what does that look like? You know, the, the, the earth is responding. we can see it like, you know, temperatures are increasing.

[00:09:16] But what are we hoping to get at the societal level that can help, reduce the impacts? Or is it a case of just trying to evoke a positive conversation with the leaders? Or what is it in your perspective that you realistically think that we can achieve in our lifetimes?

[00:09:37] Kasper Bjørkskov: I, I,

[00:09:38] Gerry: Another good question.

[00:09:39] Kasper Bjørkskov: think it's a hard question, but I do actually think that we can achieve a better society than what we came from, if we actually understand what needs to be done. I think, the paradox of all this is that we argue that this society we have now is good. But it's, it's like, you know, we are collapsing the ecosystems.

[00:09:58] People are stressed. We've never been so sick, anxious as in depression is going up. So I think like when we realized that the society that we're coming from is actually really poor. We actually have the opportunity to say what is the society we want to have. And the funny thing is that to get there, we just have to do less.

[00:10:18] It's not like we have to do more. We basically just have to stop doing all the things we're doing. And I think in that, in that realization, we can actually truly create a change. Whether it's too late because of the system change is impossible to know, but I have to be positive, otherwise it's really difficult to be in this sort of space.

[00:10:41] Gerry: so, so when you're saying stop doing all the things that we're doing at the moment, that's probably focusing on the capitalistic mindset or, you know, asking for degrowth. Is that, is that a fair

[00:10:52] Kasper Bjørkskov: Yeah, it's, it's, yeah, it's both that, but it's also just, talking to your wife or with yourself to figure out,

[00:10:59] Gerry: don't speak to my wife.

[00:11:02] Kasper Bjørkskov: but the whole idea is that, what is important to you. What, like, I, I, for a long time, I, I ran like as fast as I could to get a better career, to get more money so I could buy a bigger house or be more financial independent.

[00:11:18] And at some point I sort of realized is it actually making me happier? So now I work part-time and, and I'm much happier than I ever was. so, so I think that's realization that it's like we can all. Make this deliberate change and really think what is important to us. and we'll find that, the new car, the flat screen is not that important, but it's actually the relationship you have with your friends and the time you have.

[00:11:44] And so I, yeah.

[00:11:49] Gerry: evaluative process in your own life. Okay. And I think I'd love to tap into that a little bit more. Like you've come from, you know, Okay. With all, you know, due respect, architects are held in very high regard in society. They're like up there with doctors and surgeons and architects.

[00:12:08] You, you can command a lot of money if you want. So, You, you identified that the room of doom scenario of kind of like creating these spaces that weren't really working for the planet with the bid. I think all of us were interested in what happened after that. Like, you know, how did you, you know, come to terms with the fact that you weren't going to be, you know, look at your bank account kind of going nice every month.

[00:12:36] and You know, you're not going to live in a, you know, an acreage with horses. So what did you do around that time? Because that's six years ago. You said seven years ago that you decided to refocus.

[00:12:51] Kasper Bjørkskov: Yeah. I mean, I, I just have to remember to say that I'm coming from an incredible place of privilege, so I have a house and I, you know, so it's easy for me to, it was easy for me to say that I don't want more money because I was privileged. So I don't think anyone, everyone can do that. But I, what happened with me was that I saw that it dawned upon me what we were doing.

[00:13:13] And as more like we started this research based department and all the research were making everything grimmer and grimmer and the media hadn't really been sort of Telling the full story. So realizing this was sort of, okay, maybe I should start living by those values. I do have a thing that we should not ever moralize, climate actions because it, you can, it's easy to be privileged and do it, but it's really hard to be, fighting for, survival and, and adhere to these, principles.

[00:13:46] So, but I think like for me, it was just like a, a realization that. Life was more than work. And, and when I was looking at the numbers, architecture also had to change. So, so there was more like, inner work with outer work that got mixed up in some sort of weird pile, to be honest. Yeah. Yes.

[00:14:08] Gerry: of your friends are probably from university of architects, presumably as well. Is that right? How did this go down amongst the social community? You know, within, what were they saying? Were they kind of going, yeah, actually, it's a good point. How was it received when you said like that you're kind of exiting that traditional world of architecture?

[00:14:34] Kasper Bjørkskov: I think a lot of people sort of, didn't understand it. 'cause you know that we had just been six years, training to become an architect and then I sort of left it. but I think as time has sort of gone, I think most of them are sort of understanding that what they sit and do is, is problematic, but they don't know how to change and their practice and they also have to have like a salary.

[00:15:00] So, I mean, it's not easy. But I mean, for sure they didn't understand it, but, but right now I think they understand it more than before because it's so evident that we need to change.

[00:15:11] Gerry: Yeah. The reason why I say that, Kasper, I hope I wasn't going too personal there, was those social kind of pressures of, well, I couldn't possibly leave my job, I'm off to training for seven years, or I couldn't possibly, people will think I'm crazy. All these different things, these different scenarios that run through our heads, and they keep us in those positions, it's just interesting and refreshing to see He actually made that change and you know, you're potentially at the other side of it now and you're living a happier, more meaningful life.

[00:15:44] Like, you know, that's, that's pretty powerful stuff.

[00:15:50] Kasper Bjørkskov: I mean, I, at least I, I'm happy with the direction. I mean, you can always live more meaningful than what is meaning. You know, it's a difficult question. I don't want to come off as, as someone that is. That has done the right thing, because I don't think I have, but I do think that, deciding to work for something that I think is a positive change has helped me a lot.

[00:16:11] And I would, I would suggest that that's where you start if you want to do a change. Like, would look for wherever you can make a positive change. And a really simple advice, I think, that I, I try to give my, my friends and they think I'm, really annoying. But it's like to identify what is needed in a post growth world and then get trained within that.

[00:16:32] So we know we will have to renovate and retrofit a lot of houses. If you're an architect, focus on that. It doesn't need to destroy your life. You can still have a career. But then you at least know that you can actually actively work for something that we need. So these small changes makes it

[00:16:51] Gerry: Yeah. You mentioned their privilege and the fact that you have a house and it allowed you to make these kind of decisions and that social, equity is something that underpins an awful lot of these, kind of potential decisions to be made. What, what kinda work do you believe we should be doing to try and encourage more social equity?

[00:17:16] because. It's great that you're able to do that, but there's people out there that are literally fighting for survival and looking to get a house and the rental crisis is around the world. These are huge social problems and they're not going to go away. What can we all do, do you believe, to help kind of address those things?

[00:17:37] Kasper Bjørkskov: I mean, I think we all have to start realizing that the system we live in is fundamentally unjust. You know, 63 people own more than 3. 5 billion people. I think it's a good place to start, to start redistributing that wealth. And to ensure this universal basic access so that everyone can get food, shelter.

[00:17:59] the bare minimums, because I think as soon as we have that, people will actually bring about the change. but it's awfully difficult if you live, from paycheck to paycheck.

[00:18:12] Gerry: Yeah. I mean, one of the things that I've noticed about the Nordics is there seems to be a, a larger, more vocal voice in that territory. what is it about that area? I mean, Greta, you know, is one, you know, huge voice that has really kind of catapulted this into the, into the mainstream. But what is it about?

[00:18:37] The background and the culture and the education, within the Nordics that was really helped elevate this, this kind of thinking.

[00:18:47] Kasper Bjørkskov: I think, I think it's actually quite basic. Like we are quite small countries and we have Very limited resources, actually. I know Sweden has a lot of lumber and stuff like that, but, but we're not, big on, on, resources. So we had to sort of live off, knowledge, which is basically what, what Denmark at least has been sort of famous for.

[00:19:10] And, and to, to achieve that we needed a strong welfare society where a lot of people could actually go to school and get educated. That's basically been the whole root of, of why we are where we are. But I will say the last 30 years, there's been. Forces trying to do the opposite, trying to, like, go more towards the neoclassical, capitalist system.

[00:19:33] And with the agenda of, of, actually making more inequality. And I think the really strong point about why Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and the Nordics are super successful is that we have a very low, We have almost no inequality and, and, and that makes for a lot more, like a lot, a better society in general.

[00:19:55] So I think like that's really the true finding that I wish everyone knew and that I wish that the politicians would take seriously is that the secret behind the Nordics is that the, like, inequality is basically the worst thing.

[00:20:11] Gerry: Yeah.

[00:20:12] Kasper Bjørkskov: The more equal

[00:20:12] Gerry: In terms of it, when you were in school, what did that look like? What was the introduction to kind of social problems? How did they weave that into the curriculum? That's one of the things that I see lacking in an awful lot of countries around the world. The awareness, the ability to look and evaluate, the ability to see, and I mean capital S, see the problems on the street and understand and critically think about.

[00:20:40] How do those problems come about, like, you know, what was the compounding factors. I didn't realize this. into my late 20s and, when I went traveling, first of all, one of the best things you can ever do, but second of all, you know, when I spoke to people from the Nordics when I was traveling in 2003, I was like, okay, they're much more rounded in terms of their educational background and they're able to talk about social inequality.

[00:21:08] Words that really hadn't passed my lips, folks, until I was in my late 20s realistically. What is it about the educational system that really changed my life? sets up the next generation, the next wave of critical thinkers.

[00:21:23] Kasper Bjørkskov: really think that it comes down to the equality again, because everyone in Denmark gets a free education, and we're even paid to go to university. And, you know, we actually get paid for the government to attend. So, so, I mean

[00:21:36] Gerry: to go to university?

[00:21:38] Kasper Bjørkskov: Yeah, we get, yeah, I mean around 1, 000 euro a month to attend. And, yeah, so, so we, there is, I mean, there's some people, that's what we do.

[00:21:52] That's what, like, that's the, like, the regular path. Of course, someone else, someone chooses other careers, but it's, you don't have an excuse not to go. That's basically it. And if you don't want to go, you can just do something else. but I think the whole idea that we are actually told from a very early age that if you want to better yourself, we will pay for it because we know it's a benefit to our society.

[00:22:17] So, so I think that whole story and that narrative that the Nordics have had. It's a really, sort of strong catalyst for where we are today and also why sustainability and regenerative thinking is really prevalent in Denmark or the Nordics because we have, we have the sort of, we have the time and the energy to actually spend on it because we are not focused

[00:22:40] Gerry: Yeah,

[00:22:41] Kasper Bjørkskov: living paycheck to paycheck.

[00:22:43] Or at least a lot of us aren't.

[00:22:45] Gerry: yeah, one of the things that I mentioned, and I noticed you talking quite a lot about is the post, post growth economy. if you're at a dinner party, how would you describe what that is?

[00:22:59] Kasper Bjørkskov: I mean, I would, I always try to describe it as sort of a rollercoaster. I also did a sort of graphic, infographic about that. Where it's like we've been through this growth period of capitalism. Where we've just been spit, like the GDP and everything has been skyrocketing. And now we are hitting the ceiling for our ecological limits.

[00:23:20] And, and since, GDP and ecosystem destruction is so tightly linked, we need to sort of start de growing basically, first of all. So that means that all of the things that are bad for society needs to stop, all the things that are good for society needs to grow. But basically we need to overall, degrow the economy to a certain point where we come, become under the planetary boundaries.

[00:23:45] And when we are in that ecological ceiling, and past overshoot, We need to set up our economic system, post growth system, where everything is checks and balances. So we don't grow more than the planet can regenerate, and we don't have social unrest more than the social capacity can regenerate. So it's basically about getting back into a sort of a system in equilibrium.

[00:24:08] Which we lived in for 95 percent of the, of our sort of time on the planet. It's basically just the last 50 to 200 years that we've actually been in this crazy overshoot. so, so I think it's, it's that realization that we need to go back, into this ceiling. which I think we totally can do. It's gonna be a lot of work, but I think it's, totally possible.

[00:24:32] I think it's, it will bring about a much better life.

[00:24:36] Gerry: so a lot of listeners of this podcast, I refer to them as change makers, people who really are working within organizations are working for organizations that help them design products, digital products, services for people. Okay. and one of the things that we were talking about earlier on was finding the voice, standing up and calling BS on a lot of the stuff that gets put on our desks and say, okay, we need to design this now.

[00:25:06] if society is somewhat, immune to this thinking and these change makers go and research that, the need, the future needs of what they want in business to see the opportunity for growth. The responses and the results of that research are really going to be somewhat tinted, and it requires a set of two balls, really, if you want to stand up and say, actually, this probably isn't the best thing to do. I want to get your thoughts on. How, and what you say to people, in those situations where new products or services are getting created, old ones are being left behind, how should they address those kind of conversations, in a respectful way and an educational way?

[00:26:06] Kasper Bjørkskov: Yeah, I mean, that's something I've thought a lot about, to be honest, and it's something I'm still finding my footing in. And I mean, one thing I I've always wanted to sort of be very clear about is being honest, just convey the science, stick to that, don't sugarcoat anything, but just be. Objectively, 

[00:26:25] Gerry: Yeah.

[00:26:26] Kasper Bjørkskov: about what's actually happening, but I do have a thing that I found that, communicating risk rather than community financial risk, I would have to say, rather than communicating a sort of doomsday risk is the most effective way.

[00:26:41] I mean, a long time ago, I had, I had, we had sort of done a project where we, we We showed that we could build new housing for the reduced environmental footprint of 75 percent and at the same price. So we sort of took it to a lot of different developers and, and they also said, yeah, that's nice, but maybe not right now.

[00:27:02] And I, I, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why they were saying this. Cause it was like, it was the same price and it was. A lot better for the environment. So why not? And then we, we went back to the team and remade the pitch where we said, if you do this, you will, you will don't, it will apply with all legislation for the next 30 years.

[00:27:21] And then all of a sudden they were all on board. And the reason why, and I asked them afterwards why they hadn't, been sort of on board with the initial pitch and they said like, It's cause we, we are stressed, we don't have time and we had to do things differently with your new system. I had to call a different guy than I'm usually calling, I had to do, do things in a different way.

[00:27:41] And I just couldn't be bothered. But when the other thing was presented, I was solving a problem for them. So, so I think, as if you can frame

[00:27:51] Gerry: really good

[00:27:51] Kasper Bjørkskov: your augmentation as a way to solve someone else's problem or make their life easier, your success rate will be infinitely higher. So I think that's sort of a good sort of framing of how we get change to happen is that we need to solve someone's problem.

[00:28:06] And sometimes we think the problem we're trying to solve is actually not the problem they are. They need to be solved. So, so I think that's a quite nice learning and how we need to address this.

[00:28:16] Gerry: yeah, it's a really good point. It's, I guess, you know, that comes down to the word of empathy, really understanding the context, the people, the decision making process and saying, actually, It is kind of difficult in those scenarios where you're spinning 20 plates and you're probably worked twice as hard as you were 10 years ago and so forth.

[00:28:38] And that's, that's really solid advice. one of the pieces that I remember you talking about, and I'll be honest, like I was kind of going, okay, well, not 100 percent too sure is the planetary boundaries. and when you bring this kind of conversation into organizations, Even life centered design, when you bring it into organizations, it's intangible.

[00:29:03] And they kind of go, what are you talking about? We're just doing code. How, how is this code going to impact? It's just, you know, binary, you know, naughts and zeros, ultimately in a, in a text editor. Or it could be like a visual design thing. Like how, how is this going to impact? It's almost too vague or too abstract in its thinking.

[00:29:28] I'd love to get your thoughts on what works for you, because you're a consultant activist, and presumably you're faced with this challenge on a day to day basis. What are the three things that you can think of that you lean into when you're faced with those kind of conversations?

[00:29:47] Kasper Bjørkskov: Yeah. I mean, I always try to do like a zoom in, zoom out kind of scenario. So like the Tantra boundaries are a fixed set of boundaries that we all sort of need to adhere to. and we are overshooting a lot of them, actually six, maybe seven out of nine. what I then always try to do is translate that sort of boundary into what that means for that specific company I'm talking to or person I'm talking to, cause it's only when they see. Sort of that fixed number for them, they start to understand what is actually happening. Why do they need to do that? So for example, for the building industry, for what we did, with that in Denmark, at least showing that we need to reduce our environmental footprint based on per square meter with 96%, from 9.6 kilos of CO2 per square meter per year to 0.4, helped everyone in the industry understand.

[00:30:47] what the goal was. So making it super tangible was actually the like the silver bullet for making the industry understand because until then people have just said we're doing sustainable housing and no one had known what that meant. What does that based on the planetary boundaries? So, so operationalizing the planetary boundaries is key to actually achieving this.

[00:31:09] So this zoom in zoom out, I would reckon it's probably the Best way to, to get people to understand why it's important to them. I

[00:31:19] Gerry: that you have in terms of making or simplifying the, the complicated, if you want, but bringing it into an organization, say you're the head of design or your design director, or even you're a marketing director, whatever it is, and you want to start the conversation within say a bank who, who really the, probably don't really talk about this stuff very often.

[00:31:46] and there's a risk there for them to rock the boat a little bit when they go to the next meeting saying, okay, well, we want to talk about our strategies and let's talk about the planetary boundaries. They would most likely be looked at as if they've got three heads. and we're like, what are you talking about?

[00:32:03] Yeah, we're, we're, we're here, we're talking about the new mortgage application and the mortgage application is the agenda and they go, yeah, but you're talking about planetary boundaries. Does that disconnect? probably not the right setting to bring it in at that point. If you're, if you're in a project setting of a better mortgage application, but.

[00:32:21] What advice do you give to people who are in those kind of organizations and those kind of cultures that suppress a lot of this thinking, not out of, true ignorance, but just it's not on the agenda and we need to get it on the agenda. So how can they go about doing that? 

[00:32:38] Kasper Bjørkskov: I always try to tell people, of course, to educate themselves on it in sort of a respectful way to sort of say, use some time to study it, to understand it a bit yourself. And then I try to always provide context for what they're talking about. Cause if you are in a bank financial risk. is among the most sort of important thing for anyone.

[00:32:56] So if you were to raise in a mortgage conversation that the planetary boundaries overshoot is actually financially, a really big financial risk. There was just this big report saying that 40 percent of GDP, it will have a drop in 40 percent to 50 percent of GDP. If we don't adhere to the climate science.

[00:33:15] That's something any person in a bank can understand because that's a real valuable risk. So, so always trying to bring the planetary boundaries into sort of a context that everyone can understand because it's super difficult. And depending on who you are and what you're working with. And there's also always the issues of people working with sort of sustainable products in some way or form, but still being in a growth based economy.

[00:33:46] Which that's where it becomes really tricky because this is where you know, where you need to have a full system perspective on it and and that I don't know if I found the right sort of

[00:33:57] Gerry: yeah,

[00:33:58] Kasper Bjørkskov: to actually do it, but I think at least just trying to Get the context around it is the most important.

[00:34:05] Gerry: You mentioned there about studying and learning more about it. Obviously, we're going to say one of the first things you can do is follow Kasper on LinkedIn, who is prolific with their postings. Thumbs up from Kasper. who do you look to and how do you study and where do you study? What, where are the resources that you kind of go, okay, I pay for.

[00:34:29] and who do you look for in terms of leading these kinds of conversations? Yeah.

[00:34:36] Kasper Bjørkskov: of actively trying to follow different groups of people for different sort of context. So I follow all IPCC, authors. I follow all sort of system scientists, ocean scientists, that I can on any social media platform actually. and That's been super great at giving me sort of an understanding of the broader picture.

[00:34:58] But then of course also things like you're doing here, podcasts are super helpful. I think your podcast is a great example of someone you can listen to and get more informed. So I think, all of these educational ones are really, great, especially, you know, social media is like, it has a lot of problems, but in this regard and getting everyone educated actually is a quite good, sort of.

[00:35:25] platform. So I think follow the people you like, try to Google for top sustainable voices or something, and then you'll really quickly sort of figure out which ones you like, which ones you don't like. And, and I mean, there's a lot of bullshit out there. So also be aware of that. I think that's the best advice.

[00:35:42] Gerry: Gerry McGovern also on this podcast, folks, has got World Wide Waste, his podcast, and he talks about and with a lot of thought leaders in this space, how digital is destroying the planet. And it's, it's a fantastic listen. and he tries to focus not too much on the doomsday, which is really important because once I start hearing that stuff.

[00:36:04] My head starts to wilt, and I start to look down to the ground, and I feel really de energized. But he's a great podcast host. Check out World Wide Waste. Kasper, we're actually coming towards the end of the podcast. I can't believe we've been speaking for, you know, nearly 40 minutes here. what is your, you know, kind of one message that If you're speaking to people in schools and I keep on going back to schools because I feel like it's the next generation before, you know, we're going to blink and they're going to be in university and they're going to be working.

[00:36:39] What's the wish that you see for the next generation, first of all, and what do you think that they can actually upskill in to help set us up for success? What are the skills and it doesn't have to be like trying to be an architect, not that, in terms of the actual things that they need to be aware of.

[00:37:02] Kasper Bjørkskov: I will say in, in the spirit of, degrowth and post growth is a slow down. I think our sort of acceleration society has brought so many poor things, especially to young people. I think, we need much slower pace in order to actually really get the younger generation to understand, what's happening and what the value of, of a slower life is.

[00:37:25] So I would say slow down.

[00:37:28] Gerry: Yeah. Love that. And

[00:37:31] Kasper Bjørkskov: my advice to, to this.

[00:37:32] Gerry: it's probably, if you had to give advice to, you know, the people of this vintage of the, you know, their forties, what's, what's your, your kind of mission apart from we've spoken about educating and, you know, reading and listening and becoming more aware. What is the thing that you think that they can actually take away from this podcast and actually implement?

[00:38:00] Kasper Bjørkskov: I hope they will take away that, two things. I hope they will speak up. I think everyone needs to, I mean, I think it's not long before we all have to glue ourselves to, to railroads. But, and then, secondly, I think, that most importantly in all of this is try to, like, educate yourself.

[00:38:22] on what a post growth or a new sort of system within planetary boundaries will absolutely need. So we will need doctors, we will need, you know, kindergarten teachers, we'll need all these things that we will need architects that restore and transform, figure out what these areas are, and then train yourself in that.

[00:38:41] Because, because in that way, you can actually truly make a difference. I

[00:38:47] Gerry: I love that, Kasper. I'm going to put a link to your LinkedIn into the show notes for people to connect and follow. And, you know, presumably if they want to get in touch, they send you a message in there and, you know, pick up the conversation. But are there other links that you might want to promote for people, you know, Work that you're doing or projects.

[00:39:07] Nice.

[00:39:09] Kasper Bjørkskov: would love for people to, to follow, some other people. I think they should try to follow at least Carol or Aaron Remblens, Timothy Parikh, some of my heroes and, and, and people that I really sort of enjoy following that I learned a lot from. And then Nate Higgins, has the podcast great simplifications.

[00:39:29] And then more than anything, sort of, even though it's. Difficult and hard speak up. We will never change anything if we don't start speaking up.

[00:39:39] Gerry: absolutely. I'll get the links to those, the people's LinkedIn or websites and put them in the show notes so you can click on that folks. Listen, Kasper, I finish every episode off by thanking every guest with their, you know, their time. I know it's your morning time over in Copenhagen. your energy and your vulnerability ultimately have been put on the spot by me kind of asking you questions that we don't do the preparation on this This podcast, folks, we speak from the heart.

[00:40:06] So thank you for giving me your time and your energy and your vulnerability. Kasper really enjoyed speaking with you.

[00:40:11] Kasper Bjørkskov: Thank you so much for having me. It was a great pleasure.

John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

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