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Putting the heart into tech

This new planet-conscious talent platform is equipping the future workforce with skills for planetary action
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Daphne Laan, co-founder of Planetir

This article first appeared in our Earth Day issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published 22 April 2024. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Main image: Daphne Laan, co-founder of Planetir

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the fourth industrial revolution – dubbed Industry 4.0 – are rapidly transforming the way we live and work.

AI has created a demand to reskill or upskill over 1 billion people, including 100 million young people on the African continent alone.

At the same time, a rapid shift in values, driven by Gen Z, presents a huge opportunity for reskilling youth and creating jobs in the new green economy.

‘In the past, jobs were about muscles. Today, they are about brains and in the future they will be about hearts’, shares Daphne Laan, co-founder of Planetir.

Heart-centred skills

Planetir is a new ecosystem platform that intersects tech, business and impact; its goal is to equip changemakers with the skills and opportunities they need to take planetary action, and connect individuals with mission-driven businesses – or companies looking to increase their impact – so people and planet can thrive in harmony.

The platform has been created to change the way talent and companies interact with each other and collectively impact the planet.

Unlike traditional talent platforms, Planetir is user-owned, prioritises planet conscious talents, connects talents with like-minded companies and creates a virtuous circle that drives both individual and collective impact.

‘We wanted to create an ecosystem in which individuals and communities can work together on the most pressing issues’, Daphne explains. ‘Our ecosystem platform will provide a base for talents to learn and collaborate with organisations that work on the most urgent issues we face.’

In addition to providing a space for collaboration, the aim at Plantetir is to find and grow the hard and soft skills we all need if we are to address the challenges of our times.

‘Connecting the head and the heart is our focus’, Daphne tells us. ‘The human heart is what sparks change; we want to unite a critical mass of people who are actively using their heart and tech skills to regenerate the planet. We’re putting the heart into tech.’

Education for the future

Jobs of the future will require high-tech skills as well as the specialised intra- and interpersonal skills that are already in high demand – yet our traditional education system may not be equipped to provide these expertise and employers could struggle to identify them in potential employees.

‘Younger generations are currently educated to check the boxes and to believe there is only one answer to a question’, explains Daphne. ‘Our education system does not spend enough time on teaching interconnectedness – with each other, nature and the Earth – or inspiring students to bring their unique talents to the table. It doesn’t encourage students to explore who they are in the world today, or ask how they can contribute.’

For co-founder Joscha Raue this is where we’re missing a trick: Gen Z’s strong sense of purpose, desire to actualise potential and commitment to sustainability offer a unique opportunity for individuals and communities to play an active role in creating a better future.

‘If every person ‘wanting to do good’ were part of a community that made it easy, fun and rewarding for them to see how they can use, activate or hone their existing skills, passion, knowledge and capital for a greater societal or environmental purpose – while learning a lot about their own self in the process – I bet we’d see hundreds, thousands or even millions of people follow the call, acting on their own potential’, Joscha says. ‘As a group of entrepreneurs and believers in change from the inside out, we decided to try it out – starting in the tech sector.’

Equal opportunities

Digital technologies are impacting all sectors of society, and migration and the protection space are no exception.

While technology is often deployed to detect and deter migrants, the team at Planetir wants to test and encourage the use of tech to benefit people who are voluntarily or involuntarily on the move – ultimately increasing their agency.

‘I’ve always felt drawn to questions of planetary citizenship and the creation of a more connected, united movement of Earth citizens towards a common good’, explains Planetir co-founder Mehemed Bougsea. ‘This meant I naturally focused on working on challenges such as unequal access to opportunities for youth in regions with elevated unemployment rates – something that also led me to build the country office of Kiron Open Higher Education in Turkey, an educational platform giving refugees access to university-level education.’

Mehemed believes tech can support a narrative shift that recognises the talents of everyone – including those on the move. ‘We want to raise the visibility of migrants and refugees, and their skills’, he says. ‘Our global reach ensures we have an eye out for refugees, displaced persons and those who lack the opportunity to be part of such a movement. Inequality in opportunity is a key target; we’re embedding vulnerable communities into our ecosystem so they have an easy-to-use platform to contribute locally and globally.’

By connecting talents and companies, Planetir will empower migrants and refugees as much as other talents by showcasing their verified skills and providing co-created learning pathways for technical and soft skills.

The platform plans to work with existing refugee-focused initiatives and networks, such as Imagine Foundation, to increase life skills, confidence and integration potential for refugee and migrant communities.

It will also work with policy stakeholders to advance knowledge around the use of technology for the empowerment of migrants and refugees – an important milestone for Planetir, supported by the Bosch Foundation.

Among the many opportunities available on Planetir, businesses will be able to take the Mighty Heart course and sponsor peacebuilders in conflict-affected areas.

The Mighty Heart programme, developed by three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr Scilla Elworthy, distills decades of learnings from some of the toughest negotiations on the planet.

It builds on the learnings, lessons and experiences from Dr Elworthy and changemakers around the world, and delivers tangible results.

‘We envision a world where technology propels human potential and regenerates our planet’, says Daphne. ‘As a team, we bring together a unique combination of expertise and lived experience from the worlds of technology, business and social impact. We understand that innovation needs to be grounded in values and that we need to act as bridge-builders to the wisdom traditions.’

That festival feel

The co-founders describe Planetir using the analogy of a music or arts festival; ‘Picture yourself attending the festival knowing that all those around you have consciously taken a pledge to protect and uphold the same set of values and work towards a common vision’, Daphne says. ‘You’d feel freedom, joy, interconnectedness and a sense of belonging.’

Imagine now that this festival opens up a world of continuous learning: hundreds of tents showcasing various learning pathways you can explore and sign up for.

You wonder which skills to pick; the path is lined with a range of impact ventures from around the globe, including projects related to clean air, soil regeneration, energy transition, new finance, unlocking potential, community work and more.

In front of the tents, there are wooden boards on which you see notes regarding the skills and team members required.

You wonder who organises all this and discover that it’s the people; this festival is run and owned entirely by the community.

The tents, the shops, the ventures – as well as the individuals – have all taken a pledge to contribute a percentage of the value the festival creates back to a fund which is used to make this colourful convention happen. ‘Planetir is such festival’, Joscha tells us; ‘online and offline.’

A dance of 100k

In addition to facilitating virtual interactions, Planetir organises physical gatherings and programmes to foster a strong sense of community among its participants, and uses art and music to connect people.

‘Our moonshot is to dance with an audience of 100,000 people, activating them as Planetir pioneers in our community and on our platform’, Daphne explains.

Planetir’s Tune in // The Festival Track is a live, immersive performance experience and a call to action to work together in tune with ourselves, each other and the world around us.

It is a multi-disciplinary sensory experience – with storytelling, art and music – that stretches the boundaries of what a documentary artwork can be.

‘The vision is that the boundaries between the artist and the audience are artificial’, Daphne explains. ‘We are all artists, working together and taking care of our house and our planet.’

Planet-positive investment

By fostering a sense of collective awareness, responsibility and ownership, the team at Planetir is hoping to drive individuals and communities to take action and become more actively invested in creating a brighter future for us all.

‘We believe that talents should own a stake in their own human potential and are therefore introducing Planetir as a fully decentralised technology’, Daphne reveals. ‘The platform allows talents to systematically shift their value into areas that can bring about planetary good.’

Planetir puts a percentage of fees into an impact fund earmarked specifically for planet-centred projects on an ecological or societal level; the more users that register and interact on the platform, the greater the funding generated.

All projects have a net-positive effect for the planet and are voted on collectively through a user token system.

‘Planetir’s impact fund has the potential to revolutionise the way funding is generated for green projects’, Daphne tells us. ‘Our decentralised approach and Web 3.0 tech, in combination with the alignment of interests between talents and the platform, creates a more sustainable and equitable ecosystem that prioritises ethical and socially conscious talents and organisations.’

A consortium of partners oversees the management of the foundation that owns Planetir, and Mehemed believes the platform is poised to become a thriving and self-governing ecosystem that will shape the future of work and planet-positive activism and investment.

‘Planetir can do more than ensure it is self-sufficient’, Mehemed shares; ‘it can become a thriving and funding-generating ecosystem that shapes the way talent takes action for the planet.’

Following your heart

Planetir is seeking partnerships with public institutions and policy leaders to jointly tackle the main issues of our time – not by asking for new legislation or regulations, nor for funding, but by building an impactful platform through which people can really contribute and work with each other and business to effect real change.

‘We are not just a team, but a collective of collectives, each bringing unique strengths to the table’, Daphne says. ‘We are passionate about empowering the next generation of learners and creators, and we believe that now, more than ever, is the time for solidarity and for people from all backgrounds to come together.’

Daphne was inspired by the motto ‘To make the unthinkable possible’ in the book The Google Story. In her role as Head of Technology at Google Netherlands, Daphne took on an experiment: ‘What happens if you follow your heart in all you do, including business?’

In this business context, Daphne started acting on her own values of feminine leadership and began fearlessly following her heart; the approach opened doors she never thought possible. ‘It set in motion a chain of adventures, inside and outside Google’, Daphne remembers. ‘Freedom in thinking, doing and feeling has become a personal mission, and I want others to experience that, too. I want to show the power of sailing your own course, driven by personal values.’

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