I may be green, but made it into the red book — Who’s Who 2009 — this year, alongside the likes of Daniel Craig. Am rather glad we didn’t have to race one another along a sky-crane for the privilege.
Left the GIIN reception (see previous entry) to catch a cab across to the Duke of Cambridge pub, where Charmian and I were due for the first joint Christmas dinner between the SustainAbility and Volans teams in London. In addition to Charmian, other Volanders there were Sam and Smita. A rather noisy — but completely wonderful — family reunion. Struck me that of those present from the SustainAbility side, probably the longest serving — part from myself — was Rupert Bassett, our designer.
At a time when many people are thinking back to Presidents like Lincoln and FDR for clues on how to rescue the US economy, it might also be worth recalling John Pierpoint Morgan, credited with saving the US economy on two separate occasions. Was reminded of him this afternoon, which I spent chez J.P. Morgan Chase & Company, the financial services firm, which hosted (alongside The Rockefeller Foundation, Social Finance, Generation Investment Management and Citigroup) a meeting of people and institutions interested in building out a London node for the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). Obvious acronym would be GIIN, though that’s already taken by Groupe Intersyndicale de l’Industrie Nucleare, it seems.
In any event, GIIN — due for launch in 2009 — is “a select global group of investors and intermediaries who put capital to work at scale to generate social and/or environmental value as well as financial return.” Among those present were a number of people I knew, including Mark Campanale, who reminded me that he and I had first started working in the socially responsible investing field as long ago as 1988, with the Merlin Ecology Fund and Tessa Tennant.
In any event, the triple bottom lives — and, indeed, seems to be gaining traction in the heart of the economic beast. Look out for an impending report from the Monitor Group on the potential for impact investing. Meanwhile, I sometimes find myself wishing I hadn’t given up economics at university in 1968, though I doubt I would have learned that much that would have been directly relevant to today’s work, though a more thorough immersion in the works of Kondratiev, Schumpeter and Keynes would have been an advantage in these times.
By Eurostar yesterday for an EcoVadis Advisory Board meeting, held in la Maison de l’Amerique Latine. Put up at the Hotel Bellechasse, which was intriguing — and took a brief walk around the Musee d’Orsay, just behind, before turning in. Not sure whether the six female figures were Muses or not, but that was the best I could arrive at — though I seem to recall that the Muses numbered anywhere between three and nine, depending who you happened to talk to.
Very interesting EcoVadis session. Had forgotten I had to do a small keynote over lunch for some 35-40 people drawn from their client universe, but managed to develop my thoughts during the morning. Then spent an hour or two on a sofa catching up with Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel, also a member of the EcoVadis Advisory Board and a long-standing ally when she ran UNEP’s DTIE — and now as a colleague at GRI.
Then, late afternoon, Jacqueline took me by bus to Gare de Lyon for a meeting with Sylvie Lemmet, who now runs the UNEP Division of Trade, Industry and Economics. A very animated meeting over green tea at Le Train Bleu, with some potentially quite interesting ideas surfacing, after which I took a cab back to Gare du Nord for the Eurostar home. Trains slow at the moment, because of the repairs after the tunnel fire a while back. Ordered a cheese baguette for the ride home, only to find that the charming woman had stuffed it full of sliced ham, too. It ended up in the bin, a crime of several sorts, I’m sure.
I was picked up from Lisbon airport last night by Cristina Santiago and Liliane Padua, who some years back formed iZi Palestras, the “first international speakers bureau in Portugal”, and was taken across to the Pestana Palace, a hotel which is also a national monument. On my way to breakfast this morning, I met Sean Ansett, who I used to know when he was with Gap, and together we peered into the chapel that forms part of the complex. Something of a Hugh Buchanan (a favourite painter) moment, with shaft of sunlight illuminating furniture.
Then across to the conference centre for an introduction to the event by the Secretary of State for Employment – and my speech, followed by a discussion session. Then a media interview, followed by lunch with Helena Caiado and others, before Cristina and Liliane took me for a delightful drive and wander around parts of the city.
Got onto the Airbus 320 late in the day and switched on my BlackBerry to find out what had happened in the Mumbai attacks, to find that an A320 had just crashed in the Mediterranean. Sometimes you can have too much information.
Alejandro (Litovsky), Geoff (Lye) and I made our way by Eurostar and car across Belgium and Holland – with snow on the ground already – for an ultimately not very successful meeting with DSM, but at least we got to see a solar car along the way.
Flew via Sao Paulo on Wednesday to Florianopolis, in Santa Catarina State, for the 2008 Eco Power Conference. The other international speakers were Earth Policy Institute President Lester Brown, Fritjof Capra, Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore and, on cleantech, Ron Pernick. Asked to do the final keynote, I had come in late and arrived after they had all spoken – but managed to meet up briefly with Lester Brown after his press conference. Happily, my session seemed to go extremely well. Inside, huge interest, especially from young people. Outside, however, the rain scarcely stopped all the time I was there.
People told me the rain had been crashing down for perhaps two months. On the last evening, I was filmed for a documentary, ‘Sector 2.5 – The Film’ by some wonderful people – including Maria Fernanda Gayoso. The rain was still thumping down as I went out to the airport yesterday, Saturday, and the taxi driver kept turning back over his shoulder to express amazement at the sound of the rain drumming on his roof – and the lack of visibility, as he drove along at 85 miles an hour. I was glad to get out and onto solid ground after aquaplaning much of the way.
Despite the huge umbrellas they gave each of us to walk out the plane, I was splashed up to the waist. The tarmac was an inch deep in running water – and I steamed gently for much of the trip back to Sao Paulo. Finished Mrs Lincoln, by Janis Cooke Newman, almost as the plane touched down at Heathrow. Astounding book, a forensic exploration of grief – and a completely different angle on a president struggling with epochal challenges. Almost tempted to start it over again.
Monday and Tuesday of this week were largely spent in a full-team Volans retreat at 2 Bloomsbury Place. A number of us were either feeling pretty whacked with travel and/or suffering from flu, but with Charmian in the chair we made a great deal of progress. One development I was particularly pleased with was the unanimous adoption of the Phoenix Economy concept as an organising framework for much of our work, something I have been working on fairly continuously as I have winged around the world in recent weeks. Ale(jandro) and I also made a good deal of progress on our Pathways to Scale approach and methodology, with some great new thinking on how that can now play out.
Much of the team in main room Charmian, Ale and Pamela Macs may be beginning to take over Pamela and Kevin Sam’s version of what world looks like to me – with pupils dilated by eye specialist this afternoon Allen (Tan), Smita and Kevin Kevin does The Phoenix
The G20 summit was still in session in Washington, D.C., as I came out through Reagan National Airport. Had to fly to Detroit before heading across to London, but trip made widly worth while by conversation on the plane with Alicia Diaz, a lawyer, who I started talking to because she had a copy of David McCulloch’s wonderful biography of John Adams. I continue to work my way through Mrs Lincoln, which I am enjoying hugely.
Had largely spent the week in DC, for a SustainAbility AGM and Board meeting, including joint sessions with the team and a delightful dinner at a restaurant that only serves relatively local food, albeit noise levels were almost industrial. When I first arrived, I snuck in visits to the National Gallery of Art, to take a look at Calder’s giant mobile, and then to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.
Then took Amtrak to Philadelphia on Friday afternoon, to speak at the Net Impact ‘The Sustainable Advantage’ conference at The Wharton School. My session was titled ‘Unreasonable People: The Role Entrepreneurs Play in Shaping Tomorrow’s Markets’. Chaired by Virginia Barreiro, New Global Ventures Global Director at the World Resources Institute, the panel session also involved Agnes Dasewicz, COO at the Grassroots Business Fund, and Ben Powell, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Agora Partnerships. I began early road-testing of my thinking around the emerging ‘Phoenix Economy’, the focus of a possible new book I’m working on. Wonderful reaction to the session from the several hundred MBA students and similar that took part.
Calder mobile Lindbergh’s Spirit of St Louis, Rutan’s SpaceShipOne and Yeager’s X1 Dark Star, Predator et al Mark Lee and Sophia Tickell in SustainAbility’s DC office Bottled carrots in restaurant Table setting – with Mark and Geoff in background Meghan and Kate
I began this blog with an entry reporting on a visit to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, on 30 September 2003. The blog element of the website has gone through several iterations since, with older material still available on this site.
Like so many things in my life, blog entries blur the boundaries between the personal and the professional. As explained on the Home Page, the website and the blog are part platform for ongoing projects, part autobiography, and part accountability mechanism.
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