The boy’s in Brazil: Not quite 360 degrees, but keeping an eye on myself in Natura’s mirrored room
CounterCurrent in headlines: I created this vehicle mainly as a platform for my decades-long working life, spanning multiple organisational associations, and to carry forward a variety of book projects. Details of book projects can be found here.
2012 Update: 2011 marked my 50th year in the environmental field, given that I had raised money for the then World Wildlife Fund in its first year, 1961. At the time I was 11 and away at prep school. During 2011, I took part in a number of celebrations of WWF's 50th anniversary, in large part because of my role as a member of the WWF UK Council of Ambassadors. Otherwise, the year's many highlights included the completion of my 18th book, due for publication in May 2012. This is The Zeronauts: Breaking the Sustainability Barrier. Further updates can be found in other sections, including those for SustainAbility and Volans.
Older content: 2007 marked a watershed in my life, with a decision in September to view SustainAbility’s twenty-first year as an opportunity for greater independence all round. I remain a Non-Executive Director at—and major shareholder in—the company and continue to work on a range of SustainAbility projects, but from April 2008 more of my time switched to a new organisation, Volans Ventures. The move coincided with the launch of a new book co-authored with Pamela Hartigan of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. This was The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World, published by Harvard Business School Press on 5 February 2008. Pamela is involved in Volans, as are a number of other long-standing colleagues, among them Sam Lakha and Geoff Lye.
But why the shift? More than anything else, I needed to explore new horizons. The heat was also progressively turned up by a growing concern that the work we do with big, incumbent companies—while it remains a necessary condition for change towards more sustainable wealth creation—is far from sufficient. Increasingly, my work has tended to focus on innovators and entrepreneurs, as the new book demonstrates.
None of this should come as any great surprise. It’s what entrepreneurs do. Indeed, a key part of the challenge for serial entrepreneurs—as I have learned from friend and colleague Jeroo Billimoria of Aflatoun - is to create the conditions for the organisation you are leaving (or partly leaving) to be even stronger when you have done so. And there are three huge debts of gratitude that I want to acknowledge in all of this.
The first is to the Board of SustainAbility, most particularly to Mark Lee, Sophia Tickell, Geoff Lye and John Schaetzl for astutely guiding one of the most challenging processes in SustainAbility’s history. The second is to the SustainAbility Core Team for their continuing, extraordinary efforts. And, third, to Jeff Skoll, Sally Osberg and their colleagues at the Skoll Foundation, whose 3-year grant has been profoundly catalytic in all of this.
Finally, my thanks to Craig and Rachel Ray of Origin Creative for their support in revamping this website.
Time capsule: Henry Moore sculpture outside Princess of Wales greenhouse at Kew, 2007, where the Gaia Atlas of Planet Management team—where I was a Contributing Editor—inserted a time capsule in 1985. The capsule was an idea of Elaine’s—and Gaia and Hania sat on David Attenborough’s knees as he prepared to lower the capsule into the ground, containing a copy of the Atlas and seeds of plants thought likely to go extinct in the coming decades.
In situ: Time capsule, 1985