The Wisdom of Trees: SDG Monitor is Going Free So We Can Create Our Own Root-Web
While autotrophs (mainly talking about plants) are perceived as the archaic residents of the earth, their individual and collective resilience to change should make us think twice. Plants have been around for 500 million years (1,3). The homo genus appeared about 1.5-2 million years ago, homo sapiens approximately 190 thousand BCE (2). Therefore, the long reign of plants is more than just impressive; we must understand, as we now know, that there is something fundamentally flawed in our homo sapiens ways.
The two most important aspects of plant resilience reside in how plants perceive their environments and how the information produced from this sensing is shared with others. Firstly, plants have all their five senses concentrated upon their whole bodies; communication within is total, and so is their reaction (4). Unlike compartmentalized entities like us, they function with the entirety of their being, allowing them to be decisive and precise. Secondly, plants recognize their interdependence on one another, representing this recognition through mycorrhizae –a web of mycelium and roots that share nutrients. This web is not only made for the health of every individual but for the health of the community. It allows a constant flow of information crucial for survival between the forest members; they even warn each other about infestations and send necessary chemicals to ward the invaders off.
So, what is in this for us? Trees shall become our mentors if we want to make sure we genuinely Leave No One Behind. These beings live information rather than know it. And they disseminate knowledge without thinking twice whether the others will give them anything back, as they are innately respectful of one another’s existence. They don’t commodify information, don’t hold it off for a better time, and indeed don’t ‘secure’ it from one another; they let it exist in one another – equally.
So, what do humans lack? And why trees are 1 - 0 ahead
Human systems assume that all individuals are aware of themselves and their environment and can make self-maximizing rational decisions. This assumption is the backbone of modern society as we know it. However, this dependency makes this order extremely fragile, as the present-day production of knowledge works through the over-compartmentalization of reality. So, can an individual know everything in a world where we exponentially fractionalized how we perceive the world?
The answer is: no. In a compartmentalized world, the complexity requires human capital specializing in specific subdivisions to ensure the system continues like a well-oiled machine. There is no flexibility and certainly no room for uncertainty. Hence, we are drawn to our little worlds, where global problems become too hard to comprehend from our ‘expert’ point of view. The result is the dire need for committed cooperation, broken down by field and actor-specific mindsets, attitudes, requirements, and desires.
This is notably visible in the field of sustainable growth. We are fundamentally attempting to address hundreds of years of human divergence from nature through anthropogenic thinking, in the next few decades, on a mass scale—a tuff nut to crack. However, with the help of globally comprehensive frameworks like the UN SDGs, and the adoption of these goals, it is possible. These goals are the mycelium network that will bind all the market actors -trees- together, to create a sustainable world order working for all -a mycorrhizae.
Hence why SDG Monitor Goes Free
SDG Monitor has decided to go free in 2023 so that any company big or small can start their sustainability journey and engage the whole organisation along. We are committed to keep hosting SDG Monitor Free until 2032 (and beyond) to ensure that your Agenda 2030 data is safe with us. The information that you will generate will ensure you to assess your performance and achieve your goals, while making your stakeholders find ways to act for the greater good too. Remember, we are all in this together. And with SDG Monitor, you aren’t alone.
(1) Devlin, H (2018) Plants 'talk to' each other through their roots. Guardian Online, 2 May. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/may/02/plants-talk-to-each-other-through-their-roots [Accessed 13 January 2023].
(2) Little, B. (2021) How Did Humans Evolve?. Available at: https://www.history.com/news/humans-evolution-neanderthals-denisovans#:~:text=The%20first%20humans%20emerged%20in,this%20long%20stretch%20of%20prehistory. [Accessed 13 January 2023].
(3) Pessini, E. (2018) Land plants arose earlier than thought—and may have had a bigger impact on the evolution of animals. Science, 19 Feb. Available at: https://www.science.org/content/article/land-plants-arose-earlier-thought-and-may-have-had-bigger-impact-evolution-animals#:~:text=All%20the%20analyses%20indicate%20that,multicellular%20animal%20species%20took%20off. [Accessed 13 January 2023].
(4) ScienceDaily (2018) Breakthrough study shows how plants sense the world. Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180119190358.htm [Accessed 13 January 2023].