Base 2010: Day 1
The first thing I saw this morning was the sight of two swans skimming low over the Royal Victoria Dock outside my hotel window – the dock is so huge I at first assumed it was the Thames itself. I went for a jog and found that just outside the immediate and somewhat sterile bubble of the Excel conference centre and its cluster of hotels and restaurants, the real East End of London is alive and well – fishmongers unloading their vans, small chemical works and some old traditional mills – all with a rough around the edges charm.
The Base 2010 event itself is very well organised, but the organisers were dwelt a blow by the gods of transport, and the first session by Bjorn Stigson (of WBCSD) had about three times as many people in it at the end that at the start. There was a surreal moment jsut before kick-off where I realised I was surrounded by dozens of people all leafing through my book. Stigson gave a very clear view of the enormity of the task ahead of us.
I’m trying to ration the sessions I attend to avoid powerpoint overload, so I keep retiring to the funky little VIP area with its air-hostess hostesses (it’s sponsored by Qatar Airlines), leather furniture and complimentary food and drink.
The second session I went to was about the business case for sustainable development. There were some great contributions from Paul Turner of Lloyds TSB, John Elkington (founder of SustainAbility), Stephen Howard of Business and the Community and Peter White of P&G.; Interestingly in the latter, when the executive in charge of sustainability, Bob McDonald, was promoted to CEO, he insisted on keeping the sustainability portfolio. There were so many quotable lines from this talk I can’t put them all in this post, but several will be added to the Green Executive, but it was (guess who) P&G;’s “no trade offs” approach to sustainability that stuck in my mind – great product AND great environmental performance, never ‘OR’.
After lunch I facilitated a round table discussion on, again, the business case for sustainability. We had a great conversation based around my model and how it applied in different cases – from finance to plastic bags by way of legal services. Who would have thought that there was a distinct market for legal advice on renewables?
After that I retired for a glass of red wine from the Qatar ladies (it’s tough at the top) and to write this. More tomorrow!