COPENHAGEN, Denmark – In the wake of the financial crisis, an era of severe turbulence, rapid changes and increasing complexity has emerged. A black cloud hangs over the past decade’s economic prosperity and global consumption habits, which fundamentally challenges the purpose of business. All too often the approach to business practices has been one-dimensional, lacking in richness and depth. This goes for both the cheerleaders and the critics of the current business practices. In these times, it is important to be able to view the world in different shades – one of possibilities, rather than constraints.
Since its inception in 2005, the Huffington Post has grown to be the most visited news site in the U.S. Their story of rapid growth proves to be a classic success story in entrepreneurship and business development. In an era when anyone can call themselves a reporter, the Huffington Post has managed to develop a distinctive voice. Powered by social media and the ever-increasing number of blogs (over 180 million at the end of 2011), they successfully established themselves as the de facto “Internet newspaper.” (more…)
The attraction of a Davos Open Forum session is obvious as the audience arrives much in advance to guarantee themselves a seat. Normally, we would enter the transformed swimming pool to find a neatly arranged row of chairs on the stage. The blue and white colored name tags are an early announcement of who will speak during the evening. But Thursday evening was different. Instead of chairs, we have a set of instruments and no label revealing the upcoming star of the evening.
At every gathering of the World Economic Forum, the term “Davos Man” comes alive across the mediasphere and leaves a bad taste in the mouth of many. Perhaps now would be a good time as any to define it. Coined by political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, the term Davos Man was meant to refer to members of the global elite who view themselves as completely international.
As I start to comb through the attendance list of the Summit, I find myself excited to see the shape of the conversations that will begin here tomorrow. Almost a thousand of the world’s smartest people have descended upon the Madinat Jumeirah Convention Centre – a modern kasbah. I recognize many of the names on the lists of the various councils – typically they are people who I have long admired for their personal and professional achievements. I am hopeful that this gathering of some of the world’s greatest minds, attempting to digest the current state of affairs, will yield tangible results that will increase the quality of life for the masses. The mood becomes more reverent as I walk around the Global Agenda Councils’ meeting space.
The Clinton Global Initiative’s 2012 Annual Meeting kicked off at noon on Sunday. The event, which follows the highly publicized Rio+20 Conference held in Brazil two months earlier, holds an easy claim to the heavy weight champion title for all conferences focused on social and environmental challenges. Taking place over three days, CGI 2012 includes plenary sessions complimented by smaller, issue-based breakout sessions with Heads of State, business leaders and nonprofit directors from around the world. The roster of participants reads like a who’s who of world leaders and global change-makers and speaks volumes to former President Clinton’s continued influence. Both Pres. Barak Obama and challenger, Mitt Romney are slated to speak. The newly elected presidents of Libya and Egypt are in attendance as are media heavyweights Piers Morgan and Fareed Zakaria. The ever-ebullient former New York governor-turned cable news anchor, Elliot Spitzer hustled through the pressroom early Sunday morning, shortly after the doors opened. Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs is scheduled for a Monday panel. UN Sec. General, Ban Key Moon, World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, Walmart CEO, Michael Duke, and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan accompanied Clinton on an opening panel, which centered on the this year’s theme: “designing for impact.” Topics related to health, scaling up good ideas to achieve meaningful impact, education and youth employment dominated the conversation. Clinton famously started CGI in 2005 “to help turn good intentions into real action and results.” The Initiative’s aim is to convene global leaders for the purpose of implementing innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. According to CGI, their meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media.
When I walked into pavilion 1 at the Riocentro on my first day at Rio+20, I passed a large white exhibitions space which was labelled ” The Future We Want.” I glanced at the big blue word clouds and five large TV screens — “What future do we actually want?,” I asked myself. The cynic in me felt there was no need to answer that question because even if we could agree that the future must be a more sustainable, prosperous one for all, politicians from all over the world, partially with completely different backgrounds, capabilities and ideals, representing conflicting needs and interests, won’t be able to agree upon a shared, long-term vision for the future anyway. My optimistic side countered that in the last 100 years alone humanity has overcome two world wars, ended apartheid in South Africa, escaped total nuclear destruction and developed the internet, among other things. Anything’s possible, if you work hard on it, I thought. Little did I know that just hours later I would be revisiting some of these questions about the “The Future We Want” in a conversation with the exhibition’s co-creators, Jonathan Arnold and Bill Becker. At a panel on “Sustainable Lifestyles 2050,” Bill was a panelist and spoke about the importance of a strong intergenerational relationship to help the young members of society implement their ideas for a sustainable future.
Article is co-written by Tim Lehmann. In the face of global catastrophic climate change, emptying natural resources and worldwide scarcity, the United Nations Environmental Programme needs an upgrade, or so argued Nick Nuttall, United Nations Development Programme (UNEP) spokesperson at Rio+20 (see interview at the bottom). For too long, the environmental and social pillars of sustainable development have tip -toed along behind the economic pillar. The ambition to deliver full sustainable development is still a long way behind reality. One problem is that UNEP lacks universal membership, with only about 30 percent of UN countries involved, which seems to be inappropriate in an era in which we have acknowledged the international scope of environmental problems. Nutall argues that a stronger UNEP will increase capacity to deliver services to the world’s environmental ministers, with a resultant influence on national economic policy and international trade.
After two weeks of Rio+20, I have met many people who feel very uncertain about our environmental future. They throw their hands up in the air and ask: Why aren’t environmental issues getting the traction they deserve? In fact, I was one of them during the “Four Days of Dialogue.” When the panel for “Sustainable Energy for All” solicited questions from the floor, I stood and asked, “What took you so long? And what will you do, to ensure that it won’t take us so long again? Because if we don’t know what is preventing us from acting now, how will we be able to act faster in the future?” Five hundred fellow members of civil society heard me and applauded.
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UN CSD), fondly known as Rio+20, is being hosted by Brazil. Taking advantage of this, Brazilian corporations and the government itself have been boasting their accomplishments from the last 20 years. Their achievements are indeed noteworthy, with stories of growth, innovation, social equity and environmental conservation. Successful Sustainability Case
In 1992, a ground-breaking Earth Summit took place in a young Brazilian democracy that was struggling with hyperinflation, corruption and economic stagnation. Since 1994, the country has managed to stabilize its currency by promoting a business friendly environment.
RioCentro Conference Center, Rio+20. A posse of well-appointed individuals leisurely stroll by, their security detail and a gaggle of media in tow. They seem important and unconcerned. They walk slowly. The work of the 3rd Preparatory Committee, tasked with negotiating the text of the so called “zero draft,” is important. Today is the last day of negotiation listed on the schedule and yet a sense of urgency is strangely absent. The “zero draft” with zero speed
The 3rd Preparatory Committee is negotiating the text of the zero draft. The text of the draft can be divided in four sections: renewing political commitment, green economy, institutional framework (i.e. “upgrading“ UNEP) and the framework for action and follow-up (including specific topics like food or education). Negotiations are not proceeding in sections or paragraphs or even sentences.