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  • Writer's pictureKate Warren

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

World Creativity and Innovation Day is observed every year on April 21 to create awareness about the importance of creativity and innovation in all aspects of human development. We will discuss this important and influential day at the end of the blog - but first... let's take a step back in time.


Without creativity and innovation, we would not be here.


It is said that our earliest ancestors emerged around 6 million years ago.


CREATIVITY


The Chauvet Cave, situated in the south of France, contains one of the oldest cave paintings in the world. These paintings are almost 32,000 years old. That's 28,976 BC. During that time, the Earth was in the midst of an Ice Age, and it was a world where now-extinct animals roamed, and Neanderthals may have lived alongside modern humans (I'm pretty sure they still do). This cave art includes the paintings of ibex, mammoth, horses, bears, lions, and other animals of the time. Why? To tell a story. For early humans, life was hunt, eat, sleep, repeat. Communication, language and expression were not like they are today. Despite this, we found a way to leave our stories for those who followed.



The earliest forms of creativity are fascinating and reflect the ingenuity of our ancestors. Creativity has been a part of human history since the emergence of our species.


INNOVATION


This is a Hand Axe, a prehistorical tool made of stone (commonly flint). Think of it as the world's oldest Swiss Army knife. It was used for cutting, throwing (as a weapon), digging and hammering - anything and everything our ancestors needed. This one (left) was found in France and is around 250,000 years old. Imagine how long it would take to make something of that design with no modern tools. It is not just a simple piece of rock - it has symmetry and craftsmanship. That is quite amazing.



Right now, you are probably thinking, "What does this have to do with me?", but this simple tool demonstrates our ability to think creatively and innovate, just as much today as it did back then.


Our Neanderthal ancestors would have started by simply throwing rocks or sticks that they found around them. Then, one day, one of these early humans broke their rock or stick - maybe they even cut themselves with it. It was then that they realised the broken rock was more useful. This Neanderthal's friend agreed that the broken rock was useful, but they also continued to cut themselves with it. So, they then found a way to wrap it with animal guts or attach it to a stick with reeds or long grass. Even prehistoric humans had the ability to innovate and "find a better way".


ONE STEP TOO FAR?


It is a major understatement to say that we have come a long way since our ancestors, and our desire to keep moving forward and create remains strong. However, we have taken a step back in the last decade or so, because we have learnt that innovation and development can sometimes have negative consequences:

Environmental impacts:

Damage to our ozone layer, lack of food resources, increases in waste, and climate change.

Economic impacts:

Displacement of workers as jobs become automated, inequality of income and wealth, and the increased cost of living expenses.

Health impacts:

Increase in sedentary lifestyles, availability and affordability of processed foods, and introduction and mutation of viruses and diseases.

When we talk about the future of humankind - especially in the areas of social and civic innovation (i.e. changing the way that a society works), one main concern is repeated by many - that technology causes more problems than it solves.


Humans not only innovate, we adapt - and not always for the betterment of ourselves. Advancements in digital technologies - and our uses and abuses of it - are causing societal harms that we are not likely to overcome. Technology has indeed brought us closer together as a planet, but it has also disconnected us on a community level.


FINDING A BETTER WAY


Despite current trends, there is reason to hope for better days because we have come to realise that we have a problem. We can use creativity and innovation for problem-solving - in this case, in an economic, social and sustainable development sense.


On World Creativity and Innovation Day, the United Nations (UN) has invited the world to embrace the idea that innovation is essential for harnessing the economic potential of nations. Innovation, creativity and mass entrepreneurship (opportunity for more to make their mark and support employment) can provide new momentum towards achieving their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The 17 Goals are all interconnected, and in order to leave no one behind, it is important that we achieve them all.


GOAL 1: No poverty

GOAL 2: Zero hunger

GOAL 3: Good health & wellbeing

GOAL 4: Quality education

GOAL 5: Gender equality

GOAL 6: Clean water & sanitation

GOAL 7: Afforable & clean energy

GOAL 8: Decent work & economic growth

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure

GOAL 10: Reduced inequalities

GOAL 11: Sustainable cities & communities

GOAL 12: Responsible consumption & production

GOAL 13: Climate action

GOAL 14: Life below water

GOAL 15: Life on land

GOAL 16: Peace, justice & strong institutions

GOAL 17: Partnerships

FOR MORE INFORMATION, GO TO:

If you were someone in power, what would you do to help meet these goals?


Better still, what can YOU as a human living on this planet in 2024, do to help meet these goals - in your household, in your community and in your country. Every little bit counts!


Use your creativity, out of the box thinking, and curious mind to create solutions. You come from ancestors who found a way to survive - and you have it in you too!


Thank you for joining me for another Stay U blog. I hope you found it thought-provoking, entertaining and will pass it along to others. Until next time, take care of yourselves and those around you. xx

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