10 tips for becoming an activist in 2020

As issues around climate change, migration, inequality and discrimination dominate our day to day, it’s easy to get despondent. However, there’s always something we can do to tackle global problems – and what better time to start than at the beginning of a new decade? We’ve collated advice from ten past guests on our podcast, Conduit Conversations, to inspire you to become a conduit for positive social change in 2020.

1. Find something you truly care about

“It’s about finding your passion. You have to find things that you really do care about and you really are going to be involved in forever. You need that depth of commitment to really push through the difficulties. Isolate the things that you feel are unjust in the world and look at why they’re unjust, and how you might be able to become involved in that conversation.”

Chiwetel Ejifor, BAFTA-winning actor, director and writer.

Listen to Chiwetel’s episode here.

2. Stay true to your values

“Don’t question your values and don’t stray from them when you’re trying to do something that you think is important. Don’t do anything you’re not authentically passionate about because it gets hard. When you’re waking up every day and wondering why the hell you continue to work this hard, it had better be for a good reason.”

Joey Zwillinger, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Allbirds

Listen to Joey’s episode here.

3. Use your power as a consumer

“The first thing everybody should do is vote with their wallet. If we demonstrate to brands that plastic-free brands sell better than plastic brands, then they will change faster. It really is that simple. As an individual we may feel disempowered, but you have way more power than you think.”

Sian Sutherland, founder of A Plastic Planet

Listen to Sian’s episode here.

4. Speak truth to power

“Truthtellers are a vital component of our society in every single form or fashion. I’m going to paraphrase Robert Kennedy, who said that ‘moral courage is the strongest form of courage you can exhibit’. One day you are going to be tested and that’s when you will have to decide whether to stand up for what’s right or to do what’s expedient. I hope that each and every person today will make the right decision when that moment comes.”

Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Anchor for CNN, Host of CNN International’s nightly interview programme Amanpour.

Listen to Christiane’s episode here.

5. Change your eating habits

“To those who are still eating red meat seven days a week, your body is not happy. This is not about sacrifice. It’s about looking at your body and saying, do you really want to stress your system every single day of the week? Or are you going to start reducing your consumption? It’s the easiest thing that you can do to improve your health and, of course, it contributes to the health of the planet.”

Christiana Figueres, Costa Rican diplomat and previously Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Listen to Christiana’s episode here.

 6. Measure your impact

“Most of the young businesses that I come across today are measuring impact and have impact objectives. And so, I think if you’re an entrepreneur today, adding an impact dimension to it improves your chances of success – it doesn’t reduce them.”

Sir Ronald Cohen, international philanthropist, venture capitalist, private equity investor and social innovator.

Listen to Ronald’s episode here.

7. Be an upstander, not a bystander

“It’s really important to look, listen and learn. I’ve tried to be as open as possible; I didn’t know anything about supply chains or forced labour ten years ago. I listened to people and heard what they were saying, and found something to which I might be able to make a contribution. If you’re in a position where you’re able to challenge the status quo, don’t be the person who says, ‘that’s somebody else’s responsibility’.”

Baroness Lola Young, Crossbench peer

Listen to Lola’s episode here.

8. Don’t limit yourself to the charity sector

“I think we should be sector agnostic when it comes to purpose. I want to see a world in which everyone, no matter where they are in society, should be inspired by purpose and held to account by a broader set of values. I don’t think we in the third sector have a monopoly on purpose and nor should we.”

Danny Sriskandarajah, CEO of Oxfam GB.

Listen to Danny’s episode here.

9. Maintain a balanced outlook

“I think it’s okay to be a little bit pessimistic, but we need a little bit of optimism as well – and they can go hand in hand. Extreme optimism gives us the illusion that we don’t have to fight for democracy because things will move forward regardless. I think that’s a huge mistake. History does not always move forward; sometimes it goes backwards. On the other hand, too much pessimism will also debilitate us and create apathy. We need the pessimism of the intellect and the optimism of the heart.”

Elif Shafak, novelist and Booker Prize shortlistee.

Listen to Elif’s episode here.

10. Don’t forget to have fun!

“Please recognise that activism is fun. It gives your life meaning and purpose. Don’t have as your starting point that standing up for what’s right is a pain. Yes, there are challenges and frustrations that come with it, but recognise that every human being, whatever their role in life, has the capability to contribute to making a difference.”

Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

Listen to Kumi’s episode here.

Check out every episode of Conduit Conversations here. Don’t forget to subscribe to be the first to hear season 3!