A former astronaut who took part in the virtual Cemex-Tec de Monterrey Award activities invites us to engage in “planetary thought”.
Seeing the planet from outer space changed Ron Garan’s mindset forever. He did not decide just to be an astronaut, but rather he made it his mission to help on Earth too.
The former NASA astronaut took part in a virtual discussion with the winners of the Cemex-Tec de Monterrey Award to inspire them to remove the boundaries that limit their actions.
The most important recommendation he gave to those involved in the award, which rewards sustainable development projects, is to bear in mind that the world map is not two-dimensional. He encouraged the participants to think about what our planet is really like: one single unit. Seen from outer space, there are no borders on Earth, Garan noted.
The Cemex-Tec de Monterrey Award is celebrating 10 years since its inception and is breaking its own record. For this year’s award, 1,678 projects were received from 61 different countries. The categories are Transforming Communities, Social Entrepreneurs, Community Entrepreneurship, and Collaborative Action. Within them, there were 33 winners.
Garan, who is also a social entrepreneur, gave a powerful message to the participants in the virtual discussion.
“The International Space Station was built by 15 different countries. Somehow, they found a way to put aside their differences, work together, and construct one of the most complicated structures ever made. Imagine if we could have the same level of cooperation here on Earth, and do something that works for everyone,” he shared.
That is the spirit of the award, which brings together Tec de Monterrey and the global company Cemex.
“My recommendation for the 33 winners is that they take advantage of every single opportunity. They should build relationships with each other and share best practices. 2020 has been a year of different social challenges; we’ve seen a lot of cooperation,” said Martha Herrera, global director of Responsible Business and Shared Value at Cemex.
The award has been bringing together entrepreneurs from all over the world for the last three years. After the projects have been through a selection and evaluation process, the winners have the opportunity to participate in a series of exclusive activities for a period of two weeks.
The 33 winners are from the following countries:
The Dominican Republic
Between September 21 and October 2, they will be able to participate in a series of virtual activities. The series of talks, keynotes, workshops, mentoring opportunities, cultural activities, and Fucked Up sessions began today with Garan’s discussion.
Using his “planetary perspective”, Garan created the Manna Energy Foundation and a water purification company in Africa. After seeing Earth from outer space, Garan, in addition to being grateful to his home planet, decided that he had to contribute more.
As a result of his experience in team work and having to go beyond his military training, Garan thinks systemically so as to be able to solve everyday problems. One of them is the lack of water in African countries.
“I don’t know if we have enough time to prevent a disaster, to be honest. But what we can do is work on a massive scale – like other species do – to cooperate with each other. We need to widen our concepts of community and home. That’s the important thing when trying to solve problems,” said Garan.
To improve our relationship with Earth, our home, Garan suggested we focus on prioritizing the planet, society, and then the economy. In this way, we will become more sustainable, said Juan del Cerro, who moderated the talk and is also social entrepreneur.