Individual and Systemic Climate Action: Aotearoa New Zealand from an international perspective

Speaker: Kai Greenlees, Watson Fellow

Date: Thursday, 14 March 2024, 6pm

Venue: Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (159 Dalton Street, Napier)

Admission: Gold coin donation

Have you ever wondered if or how individual climate action makes any difference? What’s the relationship between your household composting and the international Paris Climate Agreement? In this conversation, we will explore how international climate commitments, national climate legislation, regional climate plans, and household action are all essential for enabling rapid and equitable climate mitigation.

Kai will present a framework to visualise how our daily individual actions and grassroots efforts enable systemic change at a large scale, and how system change, in turn, can reinforce localised efforts. While Kai comes with an international perspective, climate action will be framed within the current New Zealand and Hawke’s Bay Region context. This solutions-oriented conversation will aim to challenge the dominant framing of individual action, discuss what systems change means in practice, and explore what a sustainable transformation could look like locally.

Kai Greenlees is an interdisciplinary social scientist with a background in geography and social psychology based in the UK. Originally from the U.S., Kai graduated from Vassar College in 2020 and has been studying and working at the nexus of psychology, sustainability, and systems science. This year, Kai is supported by the Watson Fellowship to carry out a year-long independent passion project titled, ‘Individual and Systems Change: Exploring interconnected pathways to rapid climate mitigation’. Through the fellowship, Kai has been travelling to connect with grassroots organisations, businesses, and civil servants from different sectors and communities to explore how diverse actions across multiple scales contribute to the ecosystem of change needed to address the climate crisis. Prior to the Watson Fellowship, Kai received their Master of Research in Sustainable Futures from the University of Exeter and was a Policy Analyst for the Carbon Trust in London. Kai is also a member of the UK Youth Climate Coalition, supporting the Systems Change working group.