Category Archives: Environmental Leadership

Climate Change at the World Economic Forum 2015

Last week, the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum was held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Even though climate change was one of the top priorities on the agenda, with beautiful quotes, only a fraction of CEOs worldwide – a humble 6% – say governments should make combating climate change a top priority – according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of more than 1,300 CEOs from 77 countries worldwide released a day before the start of the WEF.

Among public policy priorities for 2015, nearly two-thirds of CEOs told researchers they want lawmakers to focus primarily on reducing taxes and providing access to skilled workers. Far fewer said they want government to focus on investing in public infrastructure, and just a fraction — 6 percent — said they think combating or mitigating the effects of climate change should be a government priority.  –  Read the whole article on the website of the International Business Times

Insurance companies seem to be far more aware of the impact of climate change – which is already costing billions of dollars. For insurance companies climate change is a top priority since several years and not a far-away, long-term risk. Where the risks of climate change are still ignored by many companies to the advantage of what seem more urgent, short-term challenges, insurance companies are ‘greening’, out of necessity. Read more on the website of Science Daily.

24 Quotes on Climate Change from Davos 2015 – By Ian Sanders

World Economic Forum

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations

  • “Growth has freed millions of people from poverty and hunger… but growth is also associated with pollution and an increase in emissions.”
  • “Climate change has happened because of human behaviour, therefore it’s only natural it should be us, human beings, to address this issue. It may not be too late if we take decisive actions today.”
  • “We are the first generation that can end poverty and the last generation that can take steps to avoid the worst impact of climate change. Future generations will judge us harshly if we fail to uphold our moral and historical responsibilities.”
  • “It’s not only government. Government cannot do it alone. The UN cannot do it alone. There should be full partnership… then we should have civil society coming together. Even one normal citizen – they have a role to play.”
  • “All these policies should be people centered – without people they are meaningless.”

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

  • “It’s a collective endeavour, it’s collective accountability and it may not be too late.”
  • “At this point in time, it’s macro critical, it’s people critical, it’s planet critical.”
  • “As I said two years ago, we are at risk of being grilled, fried and toasted.”

Jim Yong Kim, President, The World Bank

  • “We have to have a plan equal to the challenge… we need to think about how we bring public and private together to achieve these goals.”
  • “We need to change the relationship between growth and poverty in a way that has a bigger impact.”
  • “We have to wake up to the fierce urgency of the now.”

Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever

  • “Tackling climate change is closely linked to poverty alleviation and economic development; I would call them different sides of the same coin.”
  • “We need sustainability – this is a planet that needs to be around for generations to come.”
  • “The first thing we need from the business community, and the business leaders themselves, is commitment. If you’re not committed, you’re more destructive at the table than if you’re really committed and you want to solve it.”
  • “At the end of the day we are talking about a moral framework, we are talking about opportunities not for us, but for people who can’t be here  – do you want to be the one that misses that opportunity?”
  • “If you’re not yet involved – get involved, if you are involved, simply give it a bit more.”

Michael Spence, William R. Berkley Professor in Economics and Business, NYU Stern School of Business, Italy

  • “I’m very encouraged, this year has been a turnaround… I think humanity is on board.”
  • “We have a choice: between a energy-efficient low carbon path and an energy-intensive high carbon path, which at an unknown point of time ends catastrophically. This doesn’t seem like a very hard choice.”
  • “We have to go very quickly… we have a window of a very small number of years… after which we cannot win the battle to mitigate fast enough to meet the safety goals… if this year goes badly it would be a massive missed opportunity.”
  • “This is the chance to do something we’ve never done before, to come together in a process of top down agreement, and bottom up energy, creativity and commitment. It will be a moral victory.”

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda

  • “We must involve everybody, and involving everybody means equality as well. Women in Rwanda represent 52% of the population. You can’t keep 52% of the population out of meaningful economic activity, that’s not intelligent.”
  • “We are not making a choice between environment and prosperity; but we are rather looking at how we combine both.”
  • “We have put in place policies, that every activity – whether it’s education, agriculture or health – we have integrated aspects of our environment.”
  • “Everyone is talking about the urgency – that is a big step in itself. The next big step is we need to do it.”

Read the article on the WEF website…

The World Economic Forum Global Risks 2015 Report can be downloaded here.



Robert Swan 2041 Expedition Film

What is the International Antarctic Expedition about?  It is about inspiring and informing young leaders to return to their societies as ambassadors for Antarctica and a sustainable future.

Watch the expedition film by Robert Swan and 2041, to understand what the IAE is all about. It is amazing…!


How New Collaborations are Enabling the Change

Yesterday I attended the New Year’s Reception of De Baak, a leading Insitute for Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Personal Development where leadership, organizational and business development are embedded in the guiding principles of a sustainable society. Klaas Knot, President of De Nederlandsche Bank, addressed the audience and in his keynote shared his optimistic perspectives on the recovery of the Dutch economy. One of his key messages: creative collaborations are making us stronger and hold a promise for the future.

Mr. Knot referred to a beautiful example of such collaboration: the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle track that was developed in a partnership between Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans N.V., a major European construction-services business with Dutch-based headquarters.



The Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle track in Nuenen (NL) was opened on
November 12, 2014.


The cycle path, with a design inspired by van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ is made of thousands of twinkling stones, coated with photo-luminescent paint, that gather light energy during the day and glow at night. Solar-powered LED’s help to light some of the bends in the path on nights when the stones haven’t been able to absorb enough sunlight. The intensity of the glow was balanced so that it does not disturb the natural habitat of animals and at the same time makes streetlights superfluous.







How Businesses are Enabling the Change

I just watched a beautiful little documentary on the website of Siemens Belgium: ‘Island in the Wind’, about a man with a dream, Søren Hermansen. He had a vision of an island independent of fossil fuels. He convinced the people of Samsø to help him realize this big idea.

As a result Samsø is now energy independent, thanks to electricity and heat generated from renewable sources.

Siemens provided the island’s 21 wind turbines and services them.