London - Jelena Hercberga asks why does it take a crisis to push change in us? first ebbf breakfast in London
Jelena Hercberga, one of the co-organizers of the first ebbf london breakfast, shared some personal takeaways from that first ebbf event
“Is it our nature to take precautions only after harm has been done?
As individuals and organisations around the world are mobilising and uniting in the response to the current economical, ecological and perception crisis, I wonder whether it is in our human nature to lock the stable door only after the horse has bolted?
Last Wednesday we held our first “Breaking Bread” discussion – a joint project between ebbf and the Impact Hub King’s Cross London, aiming at exploring the theme of collaboration and partnership, as well as at understanding how we can collaborate better as a society.
As we were talking to John Steel, CEO of Café Direct, and exploring the theme on the example of the Fair Trade business model, I learnt that Café Direct is yet another positive initiative that was born out of the crisis.
Here is what Café Direct say about their creation:
We were born following the coffee crisis in 1989 when an international coffee agreement, which had fixed global
Kiev - Gary Reusche offering tough love and new visions of the future to inspire Ukraine's transition
Gary Reusche has just retired from his IFC World Bank position and is now fully dedicated to making the most of this transitional period in Ukraine to offer some new ideas, values and ways forward in his country of residence. He is now an advisor to the management board for agricultural lending at “Bank Credit Dnepr” and professor at the Business School MIM-Kyiv, the highest ranked MBA program in Ukraine.
You can read here his opinion piece titled “The Miracle Scenario, Foreign Aid, Delayed Reforms and Tough Love” which was recently published in an influential magazine Vox Ukraine.
Gary offers below some of the ideas that he is sharing with the captive Ukrainian audiences:
“ebbf eschews partisan political activity, but this does not equate with inactivity in important social and economic trends and requirements that impact business. Youth and activists of all ages need alternative visions for building a future, visions that are offered by ebbf principles and the activities of ebbf members.
Working simply within the existing business community, correctly occupied with day-to-day concerns and issues, does not adequately address major issues such as corruption and ineffective use of foreign aid— issues that I address in an opinion published in VoxUkraine.org. I am convinced that the “silent majority” of Ukrainians want positive change, but feel alone and helpless to effect such change. By publishing perhaps a spark is created that leads to action.
My next article concerns the moratorium on land sales in Ukraine. Land was privatised in the early 1990s after the break up of the soviet union, and given to the workers of the soviet collective farms (such as my family members). Numerous initiatives to create a land market have been pre-empted by politicians seeking their own advantage. This has led to large financial corporations leasing literally tens of thousands of hectares. For example, one leases 500,000 hectares, which if compared to the largest farms in Europe would occupy the same amount of land as 2,000 of the largest farms. This phenomenom has resulted in almost no development of small and medium farms and rural enterprises and few employment opportunities for rural youth.
To accept this status quo, and support the large business holdings leasing the land, has huge implications for rural development and rural employment in Ukraine. Part of the reason this happens is because banks cannot lend to small and medium enterprises that have little or no collateral to offer.
The delays in establishing a land market are therefore establish a business environment that benefits large financial holdings, and sidelines opportunities for small and medium farms. Very few people in Ukraine see this connection but ultimately the connection is related to the business environment.”
Gary Reusche just about to end a long term career at the World Bank is also one of the original members of ebbf and just to give you an idea of the diversity of participants and of conversations that will enrich the next ebbf international event, he now comes to Barcelona with his own set of questions keen to explore the motivations that will bring about an interconnectedness of prosperity during the event, starting by learning about his own country of residence: Ukraine.
He writes “Ukraine is part of Russia, right? It wasn’t too long ago that most of the world saw Ukraine as part of Russia. In the last couple of years, the world has come to know that Ukrainians want to re-establish their own identity. Geopolitical politics, tanks, rockets, bullets, grenades, students killed by snipers, rural homes destroyed by duelling artilleries, deaths, millions displaced, conflicting stories about who is doing what and why— part of every day life now in Ukraine (and Europe).
The theme of the conference is prosperity. But … is prosperity possible in one part of the world, when other parts of the world experience the horrors of war or the injustice of powerful oligarchs of whatever persuasion? The Baha’i International Community stated that there is an “interconnected nature of our challenges and our prosperity.” More specifically, “The increasingly apparent interconnectedness of development, security and human rights on a global scale confirms that peace and prosperity are indivisible – that no sustainable benefit can be conferred on a nation or community if the welfare of the nations as a whole is ignored or neglected.”
What happened in Ukraine? Did we witness a peaceful uprising against a corrupt administration, started by students wanting to live without corruption, small businesses protesting against so-called “rent seekers”?
The interconnectedness of prosperity is not on the agenda anywhere. Refugees are flooding into Europe from the Middle East, and Africa. But why are they fleeing? What factors created this flood of human misery? Can we ignore the conditions that created this catastrophe and still talk about prosperity in Europe only? I don’t think so.
When business discusses prosperity, exactly what prosperity is being discussed? Is it the prosperity of the owners, or the CEOs, or the employees, or their families? These are all different perspectives. What time frame is being discussed for prosperity? How long is any prosperity going to last in a world increasingly threatened almost daily by every conceivable catastrophe.
Maybe there are lessons from Ukraine. In Ukraine nobody believes the government is going to lead the cultural change required to create a more inclusive, interconnected prosperity. We are seeing the same from the US. More people are needed to turn the tide.
So how to make a difference? Interesting question that I hope the conference will discuss. In American politics Bernie Sanders is saying, even if elected, he (or any other potential leader) would be powerless to make the necessary changes. His upshot is that more people must be passionate about the interconnectedness of prosperity to make a difference.
How can ebbf and business play an effective role to ensure that prosperity is understood as something different from the acquisition of material goods for small minorities in limited corners of the world? What role can business play to catalyse people to arise and work for inclusiveness and unity and sustainable prosperity?
Below you can find some highlights from the most recent pre-#ebbf25 online event
You can ask (clicking on the titles below) questions prior to the next two online events that you can join in the run up to the ebbf annual learning event in Barcelona.
16th September – Nousha Etemad Partner at Deloitte Canada
“what does it mean to be a collaborative leader in this hyper-connected world, what skills are necessary?”
24th September – Augusto Lopez-Claros director of indicators at the World Bank
Highlights from the last online event:
The pursuit by individuals of limitless material prosperity – regardless of any consequences this might have on others – is too often the basis of economic activity. Yet even those who succeed are rarely satisfied; they keep aspiring for and wanting more. In this never ending cycle, their only means of achieving more is to deny the means to greater prosperity to those who have less. So the final result is senseless one where neither they nor the others they leave behind are left satisfied and no real prosperity is created.
Prosperity is too often considered as a shimmerer, something that implies unlimited consumerism, we all agreed that whilst the standard of living has improved over the last 50 years, the quality of life and happiness index has stayed the same.
To create true prosperity we and organisations should be looking at less tangible things that offer limitless growth such as development, generosity, sharing, education and learning.
A participant mentioned Viktor Frankl idea of two areas to create meaning in life: happiness that comes from the satisfaction in reaching a goal and a more meaningful form: living life in service of others that creates an unlimited growth in those giving and in those receiving.
The success for companies then comes from making the switch from limited financial to limitless purpose values growth of others to what you contributes to life of others. Or even better a dynamic balance between both.
limited quantitative growth or limitless qualitative growth?
We reflected how the entire idea of quantitive growth is reaching boundaries that limit it and that will lead to a confrontational one…
Washington - Augusto Lopez-Claros comment on World Bank blog: Equality of opportunity as an engine of prosperity
Augusto Lopez-Claros (director of global indicators at the World Bank) will be one of the speakers at ebbf’s 25th anniversary annual event taking place in Barcelona in just over one month. He recently wrote an interesting article on the World Bank’s portal titled “Equality of opportunity as an engine of prosperity”.
A few highlights from the article below
“Inequalities in education, for instance, artificially reduce the pool of talent which societies can draw from; by excluding qualified girls from the educational stream and promoting less qualified boys, the average amount of human capital in a country will be reduced and this will have an adverse impact on economic performance”
“with greater female power within the household there will be higher investments in the health and education of children, thereby planting the seeds for the accumulation of human capital in the next generation.”
And his article ends with
“Prosperity involves more than just increasing and distributing wealth. Human well-being includes social, cultural, ethical and spiritual dimensions. The diversity and additional perspectives contributed by presently marginalized groups can, when allowed full expression and participation, enrich the community and society and add to collective prosperity. Equality of opportunity not only prevents a waste of human resources and capacities, but also opens the potential to even higher levels of social and economic well-being.”
ebbf board member Arthur Dahl from Switzerland addressed the underlining injustice, global implication, and environmental impact with holistic thinking. His inspiring comments are:
” From a systems science perspective, the Greek financial crisis is only one obvious symptom of a Western consumer economy trying to maintain itself through endless borrowing beyond any reasonable hope of reimbursement. If the growth rate stays lower than the interest rate, reimbursement is impossible. The drivers of past higher growth: cheap energy from fossil fuel, a growing workforce of young people, and resource discoveries, are all ending, while technological innovation faces diminishing returns. The banking crisis just shifted the debt problem to governments. Regardless of how the Greek crisis is handled in the short term, the global financial system is highly vulnerable. However from an environmental perspective, a global financial collapse might have the best chance of reducing fossil fuel consumption in time to save us from catastrophic climate change.”
ebbf member Ralph Blundell from Portugal talks about a multilayered problem.
The first is that recent Greek governments have shown a terrible track record of doing what they say they will do, and this has created a reputation for untrustworthiness. So much so whilst this is first and foremost a financial issue, trust is proving a stumbling block at the moment.
This lack of trust is mutual, as back in 2010 the then Greek government had asked its creditors to restructure its unsustainable debt. At that time the IMF, the ECB and other creditors replied that was not necessary. Unsurprisingly both the Greek people and Government feel betrayed by the very people who are now posing as their saviours.
The crisis is not just of the Greek’s making, it is about all parties taking responsibility. It was crystal clear that the countries debt was unsustainable yet creditors kept lending. Just like the largely predictable 2008 financial crisis no one decided to take any responsibility. In both cases those who could have acted responsibly …
I have followed the work of the IPCC for many years and participated in one of their earlier meetings as part of my responsibilities for the UN System-wide Earthwatch. I helped to create and oversee the Global Climate Observing System and the Integrated Global Observing Strategy Partnership with all the space agencies and international research programmes, and have collaborated with a number of the scientists involved in the IPCC at various times. I have great admiration for the scientific processes behind the IPCC, and full confidence in its results, acknowledging that it always errs on the conservative side to avoid any criticism. The meeting I attended in Bern immediately after the report was finalized was organized by the Swiss researchers who led one of the main IPCC working groups.
Today is the United Nation’s International anti-corruption day. We take the opportunity to raise awareness and open conversations of possible ways forward, perhaps you wish to spark a meaningful conversation using ebbf’s own Knowledge Centre on this topic or its publication “Fighting to restore trust“, also created by ebbf expert in the sector Jean-Pierre Méan.
The decision to allow 16 year olds to vote in the recent Scottish referendum has kick-started a debate in the UK as to whether this should become a standard practice. Does the proposal to expand suffrage recognise the changing role of youth in our society and the government’s desire to understand it?