HRH Prince Charles and Cambridge on Resilience, Sustainability and Business Practice

On June 10th I attended an event hosted by Cambridge and HRH (His Royal Highness) the Prince of Wales.  Renowned speakers stood on the podium in the surreal setting of Saint James’ Palace, centered between two projection screens and surrounded by oversized royal portraits on red brocade walls.  Our topic of the seminar, resilience, was described by one speaker as a combination of persistence, adaptability and transformability.   If not resilient, our alternative is extinction.  Here were some ideas for becoming more resilient:  Everything’s connected to everything else. Social, environmental and economic drivers are connected as never before in this interconnected planet.  Our efforts must go beyond climate.  Approach issues from different perspectives – resource depletion, health issues, efficiency, innovation and economic growth.  

“It ain’t going to go on working like that anymore.” (HRH) We have entered a decisive decade to make change.  Food security, water security and energy security are linked to global security.  The private sector can no longer continue to proceed solely for profit.  We need to convene people around issues that they aren’t yet ready to accept and take action.    Beyond tweaking – we need transformation. The business model needs to change.  In our “20/80 Dilemma,” 20% of the wealthiest create the greatest impact, and the other 80% want the same lifestyle.  And, we already use resources equivalent to 4 planets!  This means making immediate short-term changes, and going further to completely rethink the future.  Let’s put a value on resource depletion just as we do return on investment.  It takes a village – it takes the entire system. Transformation is big, so everyone needs to step up.  Government, scientists, NGOs, business and consumers must be part of the solution.  Look at what’s happening in agriculture as growers, retailers, governments, distributors and NGOs sit down to find better ways to grow crops while maintaining the land for future productivity and health.   There is power in collaboration. Change is sometimes the tsunami and sometimes the boiling frog: We’ve historically treated nature as if it contained infinite resources.  Yet this supply can be abruptly destroyed in turbulent ways.  Gradual changes in climate are like the saga of the frog placed in a pot of cool water that boils to death as the water gradually heats up.  Yet there are those tsunami-like occurrences that change our lives in a flash – Hurricane Katrina, the droughts in Australia and more. HRH stated “We won’t get anywhere unless the U.S. provides leadership.”  As “the leader of the free world” has a responsibility to step up and do more.  We seem to be able to engage in warfare to protect our way of life and security.  Are we also willing to engage in protecting and preserving our planet and leading through practice and innovation to take us through this millennium for the benefit of future generations?  There are ways to do this even in a down economy.  In fact, the right efforts help to drive prosperity while also protecting society and our planet’s resources.  “It’s not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin   Cambridge and the Prince of Wales Programmes are held globally for leaders from mixed sectors and are customized for specific organizations.


Christopher J. Sequeira said:

Interesting to see the 80/20 "rule" show up in so many places!

Diana: do you also feel that the world won't get anywhere without U.S. leadership?

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