There is no doubt that post-referendum day felt like a Moment of Change. We woke up and everything had shifted, without anyone really knowing what that meant.

There has been a vast amount of debate – by individuals, businesses and communities -about all the uncertainty heading our way. The only consensus is that we’ll all need to do things differently, whether to give our economy the best chance, to knit divisions in society, or to re-engage the different generations in the political process.

Behaviour change theory tells us that now is a perfect time to change habits and think about the society that we want to create.

What are Moments of Change?

Moments of change happen when the circumstances of an individual’s life change dramatically within a relatively short time frame. This could be the birth of a baby, moving house or retirement. It could also be an external event, such as the 2007 credit crunch, or the oil shocks of the 1970s. Or it could be Brexit.

The behaviour change theory is that habitual behaviour – all the small choices that make up our everyday lives – are propped up by stability. As soon as there is upheaval, the choices move from unconscious to conscious choices, and can shift more easily.

How to be hopeful amid crumbling certainty

So, we at Global Action Plan are looking for the positives in this situation. Which is one of our key values, after all: believing in people to make the changes we need to see. When everything is cast up in the air, we could sit and regret what hasn’t been done. Or we can start thinking about what we can do, right now, in this moment of change.

The evidence to date on big external events, especially related to energy, says that people will alter their behaviour. But without a pro-environmental framing of their behaviours, it won’t last when things return to normal. To make change lasting, we need leadership on what kind of society we want to see: a sustainable, connected and green society.

Where is the leadership?

There aren’t any signs from central government that they want to lead on this – the abolition of DECC being a clear signal. At a recent The Crowd event, 82% of businesses said that the UK would be worse off for environmental policy post-Brexit. So let’s stop looking there.
There are 3 places to look instead.

The first is to business. Now, it is more important than ever for business who believe in sustainability to keep talking about it, loud and clear, and to keep acting. Now is the time for leadership, more than ever.

Second, the third sector and local communities are essential to keep painting that practical picture of what sustainability really looks like and how it can mean better air quality, cheaper fuel bills, greener streets and more connected communities.

Third, we each need to be leaders. We can all make choices, every day, that will make the most of our moment of change and create the society we need to see.

That is what GAP does in our practical work – and it is what we tried to help our staff think about the week after Brexit. We looked at what each of us could do, as individuals, as an organisation and society. At least one person left feeling more hopeful and empowered, and we came away with a heap of ideas to inspire us too.

So let’s make this time of uncertainty a Moment of Change that the next generation will point to as a turning point in their action. And let’s all make it our own. What are you going to do differently today?

Read examples of Moments of Change from our supporters and friends