History has taught us time and again that it is the actions of brave, visionary individuals that achieve real change and point the direction for future reform.  Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Florence Nightingale, the names are all so familiar and the common denominator is passion for a cause, for health, liberty, equality.   It is not surprising to me then that attempts by thousands of policy makers, business leaders and environmentalists from across the globe to come together and agree ambitious but badly needed measures to protect our planet have been reportedly so underwhelming.

In the Rio+20 aftermath, the president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Business has said that our best chance of saving the world lies with the corporate sector.  He talked about building ‘coalitions of the willing’ – hear, hear!  Coalitions of the willing, lead by passionate, visionary individuals, is exactly what history has taught us will make a difference.  Supported by the finance of big business, even in hard economic times, is surely our best chance of success.

I haven’t met Peter Bakker but I find his reported words refreshing and maybe he has the right level of passion and drive to start pushing through change, time will tell.  Of Rio+20 he said: “I will write a positive and tough message to my members saying now it is time to kick into action. We need to create coalitions of the people who want to be good, who have plans to progress and make it attractive for other people to follow. The 20% of really bad guys we need to regulate out of existence.”

At the weekend I heard Dr Martin Clark of Allia give a presentation on social enterprise at Emanuel College in Cambridge.  His explanation of the difference between charity, social enterprise and commercial business, with many shades in between, was fascinating and inspiring, as is his organisation’s belief that every business can achieve a greater social impact. 

I can’t help thinking that a combination of the insight and commitment of people like Dr Clark and Mr Bakker could be the panacea we need.

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