Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Small ship passed in the night (©JE)
Back from Dubai late last night, having spoken at the First Middle East Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility. Yesterday morning, before leaving for the airport, visited the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture, with Joppe Cramwinckel, sustainability advisor at Shell. He has been part of the team we work with at Shell – and has also been very active in building up the Center’s work. Although I went with my brain full of images of salt deserts and salt-polluted aquifers, I was most impressed by the quality of the Center’s staff (we met Drs Abdullah Dakheel, Bassam Hasbini and John Stenhouse, and Jugu Abraham and Sandra Childs) – and by the way that sustainability principles are built into the DNA of the operation. More details from www.biosaline.org.
On the flight out to Dubai, which involved touching down for a couple of hours in Gatwick, I read What Might Have Been, imaginary histories by twelve historians, edited by Andrew Roberts. Some interesting hypotheticals, including one in which Stalin flees Moscow in 1941 and another in which the IRA succeed in killing Mrs Thatcher with the Brighton bombing. One of my bags (with my library) went AWOL, somewhere between Atlanta and Dubai, but came in on a later flight. Am now reading Truman, David McCullough’s astounding profile of President Truman. At least as good as his biography of John Adams, which I adored.
International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (©JE)
Window on Islam (©JE)
Joppe Cramwinckel (©JE)
Quality of the ‘soil’ (©JE)
Test plot of Atriplex halophile plants (©JE)
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, midday, having taken an earlier plane than planned. Nice weather, easy taxi ride into the city – only to find that there had been a driver waiting for me at the airport. Last time I was here was some years back, after a Ben & Jerry’s board meeting, held on an island off the coast, but disrupted by the untimely arrival of Hurricane Floyd. This time it’s the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), whose 16th annual conference I am giving a keynote to tomorrow evening. This evening, went out and watched children playing in fountains in front of the hotel.
Boy in fountain (©JE)
Small fraction of SCAA exhibition (©JE)
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
New York Buzz
Start the day with keynote to the National Environmental Performance Track annual conference, again with lots of people from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) world. Nice to catch up with Gill Friend of Natural Logic and Paul Tebo of DuPont. Later, Katie and I take the train from Baltimore to New York. Headed for a meeting of the New York Buzz, a group of people who advise SustainAbility US, dating back to the time when we established our first US toehold with a New York office.
As usual, we meet in the wonderful Old Carriage House, East 38th Street. Those attending include Dorothy Bowers (ex-Merck), Barbara Fiorito (chair, Oxfam US), Leslie Hoffman (Earth Pledge, and Nurture New York’s Nature), Jean Horstman (now of Citizen Schools), Tzipora Lubarr (who used to work in our NY office, now with Green Order), Gavin Power (Global Compact) and professor Peter Sandman (an expert on ‘outrage’). Wonderful, delicious, sustainable cuisine, courtesy of Earth Pledge (www.earthpledge.org).
Evening is a mix of catch-up and testing of some of the thinking in our draft Global Compact report, though because those attending had so much to report we did less of the latter than we had intended. Amazing what people have been doing. Peter, for example, has been working for WHO on how to help the world handle future pandemics like SARS. Details on his website: www.psandman.com. Virginia (Terry), one of the two SustainAbility directors who founded our New York office was meant to be there, but had hurt her back kayaking.
Gavin Power (©JE)
Barbara (accidental shot, but quite like it) and Peter (©JE)
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
We’re Here to Help You!
National Aquarium, Baltimore, and USS Torsk (©JE)
Second day in Baltimore, giving a keynote to the National Environmental Assistance Summit. These people are here to help business and others tackle environmental issues. Use a photo I took yesterday of a shark-jawed sub moored outside the National Aquarium to introduce our NGO typology, which I relabel the NGO Aquarium. In passing, the submarine, USS Torsk, apparently dived more than any other sub in history: 11,884 times. Doesn’t look bad considering, though the birds roosting in the holes between its teeth give the bow a slightly odorous look.
Interesting attempt to break down the silos in the field of environmental assistance. Fascinating opportunity to talk to people I wouldn’t normally come across, from the worlds of environmental governance, regulation and enforcement. In the evening, take a cab out of the city to have dinner with Katie Fry Hester and her husband Bill. Interesting journey back afterwards, with a taxi driver who has only been driving for a month and doesn’t even know his way to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. In the end, my sense of direction is better than his: I get out and walk.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Up early yesterday to take what proved to be a badly delayed flight to Vitoria in Espirito Santo, with Jodie, Peter (Zollinger: just in – via Sao Paolo – from Zurich) and Carlos Roxo of Aracruz Celulose, then we are driven an hour north to Aracruz, with colleagues from Atitude. Visit the company’s eucalyptus nurseries, some growing and cleared plantations, a watershed project and the Aracruz pulp mill. Then did a 60-minute presentation to senior managers. Then, today, we did a 4-hour session with the Aracruz Executive Board.
Then flew back to Rio in the evening. Rio is in the news at the moment because the state government is threatening to build walls around the favelas, or slums, in an attempt to control drug-controlled vioence. More than 1,600 police officers occupied two slums yesterday: recent days have seen a wave of violence between rival gangs, with at least nine dead, including gang members, police and civilians.
Bonsai eucalypts – less than 12″ high – that produce clones (©JE)
Cloning nursery (©JE)
Driving through the plantations (©JE)
Termite nest (©JE)
Monday, April 12, 2004
Jodie atop the Sugar Loaf (©JE)
Read much of The Da Vinci Code on the flight, which I enjoyed tremendously. Travelled with Jodie (Thorpe), who has been leading our work with Aracruz. We are staying in the Caesar Park Hotel on Ipanema Beach. The Girl from Ipanema playing wherever we go. Happily, though, Jodie and I sit on the beachfront and are regaled by a series of Stones tracks, among them Paint It Black, Get Of My Cloud and The Last Time. She and I are taken up the Sugar Loaf, with spectacular views of the city and an array of frigate birds and vultures wheeling overhead, then around the historic core of Rio de Janeiro and to the funicular railway which heads up to the Christo figure that overlooks the city, past the most extraordinary spider webs – with the most extraordinary spiders. Appropriately, given that the artist Christo is known for shrouding things, the statue was wreathed in cloud. You could only see up to the giant statue’s knees even when standing by its ankles. But the cloud did part for a moment, which allowed me to take a fleeting shot.
Christo clouded (©JE)
Friday, April 09, 2004
Flying Down to Rio
Getting ready for the flight to Rio this evening. Watched a cat making its way around the garden this morning, rubbing itself against the potted box trees in fitful early morning sun. Then read in The Times that archaeologists have found a grave containing a cat at Shillourokambos in Cyprus. The interesting thing was that the animal seems to have been a pet and its skeleton dates back 9,500 years, more than 4,000 years before the pet cats bred by the Egyptians. It is thought that wild cats first started associating themselves with humans when we began farming.
And those time scales put into perspective the similar time-frames now being discussed in terms of climate change. Our entire history of civilisation will almost certainly prove to have flowered in an interglacial period, book-ended by ice ages. Earlier today, I proofed an edited version of an invited mini-profile I have done for Time magazine on BP’s Lord John Browne. Spotlighted his role in raising the climate change issue way ahead of his competitors.
Meanwhile, the oil-lubricated war in iraq has shifted into a higher gear, with a widespread insurgency. As coalition troops fight street-to-street in places like Fallujah, some brains turn back to the siege of Hue during the Vietnam War. Mine turns to Cyprus, where I grew up in the midst of the EOKA-B campaign to oust the British. Old hatreds and antipathies consider to simmer there, undermining Kofi Annan’s efforts to get a peace settlement. I had imaginedthat the Turks would be the problem, but yesterday Tassos Papadopoulos, the Greek Cypriot president, rejected the latest plan as “unworkable”.
If things continue to unravel in Iraq, however, Shia/Sunni tensions could dwarf the Greek/Turkish Cypriot problems. Cyprus may have a painfully strategic location, but it doesn’t sit on huge reserves of oil which, I suspect, the world will continue to want to burn even if, as many of us suspect, climate change turns out to be the central 21st century challenge.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
We Have Lift Off
SustainAbility Board meeting most of the day, with Sophia Tickell (now of Just Pensions, previously of Oxfam) joining as our second non-executive director, alongside Tom Delfgaauw. Fascinating to feel the organisation beginning to lift off, with our new governance processes being a bit like the fly-by-wire systems introduced a while back in commercial jets. Very different from the early days, when you almost had to crawl out onto the wings to adjust the flaps – and your face had great white oil-ringed circles around the eyes when you took your goggles off at night.
Some photos taken during and after the board meeting:
Geoff Lye, who chairs the Board meetings (©JE)
Sophia Tickell, our new non-executive director (©JE)
Peter Zollinger, SustainAbility’s executive director (©JE)
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Slipping and Sliding
Working on four separate slide presentations today – for Rio, Baltimore, Atlanta and Dubai – I managed to give myself my first migraine of the year. Slip in and out of coherence. Peter (Zollinger), who is staying with us in Barnes, had to put up with me being partially sighted on the way back by Tube this evening. But it could have been very much worse. The Government announced this evening that it thinks it has foiled a plot to put a chemical bomb in “a crowded place”: you don’t have to be an Einstein to read “Tube” between the lines.
Thursday, April 01, 2004
First day cycling for a while. Once in the office, Jodie (Thorpe) and I race to get the Global Compact report text in a fit state to send through to the UN. Last two days spent at the Skoll Foundation World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship at the Saïd Business School in Oxford. Travelled with Tell Muenzing from SustainAbility, which was fascinating, not least because he has just come back from Germany, working among other things on our project with DeutschePost. Germany seems in a flat spin at the moment, with the political class unable to turn things around.
A rather happier story at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship (www.skollfoundation.org). It was founded at the Saïd BS late last year with £4.44 million provided by the Skoll Foundation, in turn founded by Jeff Skoll, the first employee and first president of eBay. The Centre connects social entrepreneurs through its online community, at www.socialedge.org. Great fun catching up with people from the social enterprise world, among them Simone Amber (SEED, part of Schlumberger), Jeroo Billimoria (Child Helpline International), Jed Emerson, Pamela Hartigan, Mel Young (Big Issue, Scotland) and Roshaneh Zafar (Kashf Foundation).
Saïd Business School, Oxford (©JE)