On 10 January, we opened our doors – or, rather, the doors of Aviva Investors’ HQ conference centre at 1 Undershaft, aka ‘The Trellis’ – for over 300 delegates taking part in the Tomorrow’s Capitalism Forum.
As they arrived, they came downstairs through a portal fashioned by our oldest daughter, Gaia, made out of reclaimed plant materials. The central element picked up the overarching theme of flight and uplift, which would be centre-stage towards the end of the event.
In the event, the Forum – kicked off by Volans CEO Louise Kjellerup Roper and Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry Lead Richard Roberts – proved to be a runaway success. And people loved the laser-cut wooden badges, one of which is shown below, featuring the Volans hummingbird logo:
The plenary sessions were also filmed – and Volans will be posting edited footage shortly. My own write-up on this blog has been slowed by the fact that we have been rebooting my website, ahead of a relaunch next week. But here are some highlights that have stuck in my memory – as we introduced the idea of the 2020s as “The Exponential Decade.”
That said, and speaking of reclaimed materials, I tackled exponentiality in my opening presentation by going back to Lester Brown’s work – particularly his 1978 book The Twenty-Ninth Day – to spotlight how poorly equipped our brains are to detect and respond to exponential trends. He was a huge influence on my own thinking – and I had the pleasure of meeting him several times, both in Davos and Washington, D.C.
You have almost certainly heard the riddle Brown based that book on. If waterlilies go from a standing start to clogging an entire lake, on what day is the lake surface half-covered? You guessed it.
The same theme of exponentiality was central to later presentations, including that given by Dr Catherine Tubb of RethinkX, spotlighting their work on radically different mobility solutions and, most recently, the coming disruption of the cow and cow-based industry sectors. Her point was underscored by the following slide, showing increasingly exponential adoption of a range of new technologies:
A series of quick-fire panel sessions drew on the collective wisdom of some stellar speakers, covering ways to step up personally, organisationally, financially, politically and systemically.
Speakers came from such organisations as Aviva Investors, The Body Shop International, the Capital Institute, the CBI, Climate-KIC, Conservation Without Borders, Covestro, Forum for the Future, the Good Growth Company, the Impact Management Project, Neste, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), the UK Green Building Council and Women for Women International. Glimpses of some of the sessions follow:
The quality of the discussions and the audience participation was impressive. And the audience numbers held constant throughout the day – a testament to real audience engagement. Some early conclusions can be found here in a summary from Richard Roberts.
Then I took over again for the final session, focusing on the rise of the Green Swan agenda – and announcing the first two prototype Green Swan Awards. They went to Sir Tim Smit of the Eden Project and Sacha Dench, aka the “Human Swan”. Details can be found here.
Here are some images from that session, including Louise (Kjellerup Roper) thanking everyone for coming – and steering them towards the evening reception.