A heavenly cycle ride in to the office this morning, with open blue skies and the traffic moderately well behaved, but then heard the news about Sarah Dodds, Director of UnLtd Ventures, who has died after falling into a coma following a cycle accident in northern France. A wonderful tribute by Rod Schwartz can be found on the Catalyst Social Business Blog. I last saw Sarah at the Skoll World Forum, then later on the day the Forum closed at an Ashoka event in London, where she went out of her way to introduce me to an American she felt could help us with Volans. She and I were due to meet in the next couple of weeks, something I looked forward to hugely. Her energy and generosity of spirit were remarkable. A truism to say she will be sorely missed, but true nonetheless.
Now that I’m once again thinking of things taking flight, thanks to the derivation of the first part of our still-evolving Volans Ventures, I am tending to see flight-linkages everywhere I go. Today, as I cycled alongside the Serpentine, I came across the preparations for the second Red Bull Flugtag. Chatted to a couple of the teams, including those sticking a load of white feathers onto their swanmobile.
Subsequent note: The Cullinan Bird, designed and built by a team of engineers and architects from London, wowed the crowd with the longest flight of the day, soaring for over 39m before landing in the Serpentine. No idea where the swan placed. But the Red Bull Flugtag competition isn’t all about distance and the Cullinan Bird team apparently failed to impress the judges with their pre-flight performance, resulting in a 5th place finish. Intriguingly, given my interest in the potential of Homo volans in all sorts of areas of innovation and enterprise, the competition was judged both on distance flown and on the level of creativity.
I still find it strange to see terms I have coined out there in the wider world, living their own lives. Green consumer and triple bottom line still pop fairly regularly, whereas today it was the People, Planet, Profit formulation I came up with in 1995 as a more populist version of the TBL. It pops up again as the refrain of the Financial Times Sustainable Banking Awards. The awards are a joint initiative between the FT and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the latter of which we have worked with on several occasions, most recently on SustainAbility’s Market Movers study.
A couple of the banks we have worked with over the years also pop up as winner and runner-up for the Sustainable Bank of the Year award. These are Banco Real in Brazil and Rabobank in The Netherlands. Sustainable Asset Management (SAM) in Switzerland, where I continue to serve on the Advisory Board of SAM’s Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, also appears as runner-up for the Sustainable Investor of the Year Award, after E+Co. Given that the awardees and runners-up were selected from a record 182 entries from 129 institutions in 54 countries, they are doing pretty well.