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Sustainable Innovation

Sustainability: from boardroom to classroom

Published: July 9, 2024
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Andy Dickson is a senior consultant and customer solutions manager at Impact

In 2023, I created the Impact Regeneration Game: an engaging approach for raising awareness, stimulating dialogue and generating commitments to change in personal and organisational behaviour, in order to achieve a positive impact. 

Taking this concept from the boardroom...

The Regeneration Game has been run in the USA, Belgium, Italy, Poland and the UK, with a range of organisations including financial services, business services, manufacturing and FMCG. Whether the game has been played face-to-face in a large noisy room, or online in virtual spaces, the conversations have been rich, engagement has been high, insights have been habit changing, and commitments have led to individual and organisational behaviour change and positive impact. 

To the classroom...

Our aim was to take the Regeneration Game into schools, to engage a younger generation. A generation yet to have to make decisions about where to buy energy, what car to drive, and whether to choose more eco-friendly house cleaning products. How would the game play out? Could it influence mindsets and consumer behaviour for the future benefit of planet earth?

Sixteen-year-old Head of Sustainability

In late June 2024, I ventured nervously to a state secondary school in Hampshire, England. Invited in by 16-year-old “Head of Sustainability”, Oskar. I was delighted to hear such a role existed. I was curious if this is a regular post or reflective of a forward-thinking school?

I was nervous because I usually work with adults already well into the world of their chosen profession. How would this audience react? Would they get it? Would they care? Would they listen to someone who was last in their shoes 40 years ago? Oskar introduced me to 165 curious 13- and 14-year-old pupils – some of who were just delighted to be missing double maths!

Oskar explained: “I feel we need to do more around sustainability at this school, and I'd like us to use the Regeneration Game to consider what we can do to help the environment.” 

Let the game commence

It was challenging for me – I’m used to asking questions and getting so many answers I have to close people down and keep conversations brief. These teenagers were not out to make life easy and the games commenced. I encouraged participation, discussion and movement. In shy and reluctant teams we explored the challenges that 14-year-old pupils see the earth facing. The issues came thick and fast: climate change, deforestation, pollution, the demise of bees and, in many groups, a sad inditement of the time: the impending threat of WW3. 

We met the five contestants from the Degenerator through to Progressor, Sustainor, Restorator and the Regenerator. All met with audience participatory boos and cheers. We were warming to the task, volunteers were putting their hands up and some pupils took to the stage and spoke out about the challenges we face and what they are proud of doing. 

The topics they connected with:

  • Do you recycle? 
  • When you buy “stuff” do you consider the environmental impact? 
  • In your home do you do things to help the environment? 

We literally talked compost and we shared examples of households that encourage biodiversity by wilding gardens. 

The leadership they want to see

And then we talked about leadership, influencing and making a difference. We had interesting discussions about leaders and what we thought of them. And then we wrote letters to world leaders. Stating what I am going to do, what we are going to do, and what we need from you, our leaders. 

It was a tough but rewarding gig. These students did get it, they do care, and they want to make a difference. 

I walked away feeling hopeful and inspired – and that’s leadership. 

In summary...

At the end of the day there were over 150 letters to the world's leaders. I've summarised them here for you. Do you agree with these students?

Top 5 concerns about the planet

  1. Climate
  2. Pollution
  3. Deforestation
  4. Equality
  5. Conflict

Top 5 actions they committed to take

  1. Recycling
  2. Walking/cycling to school
  3. Thinking about the environment when buying stuff
  4. Encouraging nature through wilding at home and school
  5. Leading others through actions and school council

Top 5 requests of world leaders

  1. Make eco products and services more affordable
  2. More renewable energy 
  3. Less plastics to protect the oceans 
  4. Make it easier to recycle things 
  5. Tougher laws to support the environment


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