Democracy, autonomy, clean energy

3 minute read

By Rhonda Moore, Practice Lead, Science and Innovation


Kim Scott is founder and principal investigator of Kishk Anaquot Health Research (KAHR), an independent Indigenous owned and operated consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, program design, performance measurement, partnership development, and environmental sustainability. Kim joined the IOG Board of Directors in September 2020. In October, we sat down to talk about governance, democracy and her new role on the IOG Board.

A true profile of Kim Scott would be an image – perhaps a sketch or a painting – not an article. Kim believes creativity and productivity is amplified when we use our right brains and visualization to create strategic focus.

So, what would an image of Kim’s motivations and thoughts include? Visual representations of democracy, decentralized clean energy systems, localized goods and services that lead to greater community autonomy, and a model of leadership that demonstrates power with rather than power over.

“Never in my lifetime have I been more worried about the state of democracy than I am right now. Nothing has eroded our democratic society more than centralized energy systems. If we decentralize energy production we can decentralize power and authority.” Kim is convinced that renewable, localized, community-owned energy production will restore localized decision making and consequently democracy.

When we put decision-making power and authority in the hands of local communities, we give them greater control over the determinants of health. The profits generated from local energy production can feed into local solutions for education, economic security, ecological integrity, safe housing and good food.

“There is nothing more unsustainable than shipping lettuce to the North and then having it cost $77 dollars.” The model of importing goods and services – that people rely on for human life and cultural expression – has supplanted the original, more effective and localized systems that guaranteed food sovereignty and healthy, high functioning social systems.

Our current way of life is not sustainable. To illustrate, Kim talks about her individual carbon footprint. “When I first measured my own carbon footprint, I learned that my lifestyle – the amount of living space I occupied, my air travel, the food I ate, – required the resources of 5 planets to support me. I was horrified.” Kim took a hard look at her lifestyle and worked to reduce her footprint. She succeeded in reducing her carbon footprint but only by about 40% with typical lifestyle changes. That’s when she recognized that investing in cleantech and using her carbon handprint could bring her into carbon negative territory. Because she wants to model what is possible without investment portfolios that are an easy fix not accessible to everyone, Kim continues to strive for a lifestyle that can be supported by the resources of just one planet by reducing living space, changing her diet, and refusing to fly.

“I want humanity to share in [our natural] resources in a way that will work better for everyone. I want to live simply so that others can simply live. Strong democracies, and strong societies, look out for the weak and the vulnerable. We all have a responsibility to make a tent that is big enough for inclusive and sustainable prosperity so no one gets left behind,” said Kim. She described the strength and efficacy of leaders like Jacinda Ardern who demonstrate a leadership model that leverages power with rather than power over. The difference, she says, is the ability to focus on the responsibilities of the collective, rather than the rights of the individual.

Kim adopts this view in her own work, too. “I am always looking for networks of conversation where we can talk about possibility related to social justice, inclusive prosperity, humanitarian ideals, fairness, justice and democracy. I pay close attention to what people say and the networks of conversation in which I engage.

“You’ll never find me at an anti-uranium demonstration or a protest because I’m too busy promoting and creating renewable energy systems that will make other energy sources obsolete. The possibilities presented by decentralized and community owned power production are quite attractive. I would rather enroll others in these possibilities in a way that helps them make contributions to energy democracy and a new economic reality based on sustainable and inclusive prosperity.”

This article is the third in a three-part series of conversations with IOG’s three new female board members, on the occasion of Women’s History Month.

Read about Ilona Dougherty here.

Read about Shingai Manjengwa here.

About the author

Institute on Governance

Institute on Governance

Founded in 1990, the Institute on Governance (IOG) is an independent, Canada-based, not-for-profit public interest institution with its head office in Ottawa and an office in Toronto. Our mission is ‘advancing better governance in the public interest,’ which we accomplish by exploring, developing and promoting the principles, standards and practices which underlie good governance in the public sphere, both in Canada and abroad.

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