Fascinating few days (24-27 April) in New Delhi with the UN Global Compact, at their Making Global Goals Local Business conference. I moderated a panel session on Breakthrough Innovation and then did a short keynote in the final plenary session on Breakthrough Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals – alongside Zenia Tata of The Prize Foundation and Shaibal Roy of PA Consulting.
A profoundly encouraging response to both sessions – and delightful dinner afterwards with Lise Kingo, who heads the UNGC, before I had to race off to chair a session of the Social Stock Exchange Admissions Panel, by telephone.
Wonderful conversation on the plane back to London with someone who had heard me speak in Delhi and wanted me to speak at a conference of theirs in London in June.
On the flight I finished off Ari Shavit’s stunning book, My Promised Land. Can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone wanting to understand the history of Israel.
Uplifting and depressing in almost equal measure. On page 419, Shavit concludes, “We are a ragtag cast in an epic motion picture whose plot we do not understand and cannot grasp. The scrip writer went mad. The director ran away. The producer went bankrupt. But we are still here, on this biblical set. The camera is still rolling …”
Then a really delightful surprise when I got home. I received an email from British Airways which started as follows:
Congratulations, we’re delighted to let you know that you have earned a lifetime Gold membership from the Executive Club. This means that you will continue to enjoy all of the fantastic benefits of Gold for life.
Blimey! Though I have to say that the immediate delight was quickly tempered by a sense of guilt, in terms of the amount of aircraft emissions and noise generated in the decades of flying I have devoted to the environmental and sustainability causes.
That said, we have offset all flights since way back in SustainAbility days, and also often asked clients to offset the emissions, too, doubling up.
My first flight with BA, at least that I remember, was in 1975, to Cairo – the year after the company was founded through a merger of BOAC and BEA. Well before Air Miles existed, I think. (Checking Wikipedia, it seems they were first introduced in 1992.)
My main memories of that particular trip to Egypt were of the crew lining up at the foot of the gangplank to see us off the plane, and the intense pain I experienced when I lay down to sleep in the Cairo hotel.
It turned out that I had cracked three ribs in a cycle accident in Covent Garden earlier in the day, where I was hit by an Indonesian driver (first day out on British roads) by the Floral Hall. There was a line of hundreds of people waiting outside the Hall to get into a Real Ale event, and not a single person moved to help me as I lay unconscious.
On the upside, I wrote a feature article on the work I had been doing in Egypt for New Scientist, called ‘Beware the Wrath of Osiris‘. Thanks to the magazine’s then Editor, Dr Bernard Dixon, this led on to quite a number of other pieces – which, in turn, led to my being invited by Max Nicholson to help set up Environmental Data Services (ENDS) in 1978. It’s amazing how serendipity sometimes works.