Finding the inspiration for changeFebruary 2015
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has just concluded in Davos. It’s one of those gargantuan, international, annual events that while attracting heads of state, fails to engage heads on the street. Even The Telegraph ran an article entitled: “What’s the point of Davos?”
It’s a question I put to Aron Cramer, president of BSR, who was attending his 11th WEF. “Davos works on multiple levels,” he told me. “Ideas are shared and networking happens. The quality of participants is very high and people come to generate new ideas.” However he admits that those ideas take time to come to fruition. “It takes time to have real impact. We don’t live in a top down society any more. We have a blended governance approach and that’s the way change happens. Davos continues to help foster such changes.”
So Davos is not an end in itself – what conference ever is? – but it can be a catalyst for change. “The world will not be saved by Davos,” said Cramer. “But it helps build momentum for change.”
Look back to 1992, and remember that South African President F. W. de Klerk met Nelson Mandela and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the annual meeting, their first joint appearance outside South Africa and a milestone in the country’s political transition.
I suppose that’s the true value of Davos, its potential for legacy. Its ongoing attempt is to address the question: Are we being good ancestors? (Jonas Salk).
Talking to David Schofield, head of CSR at Aviva, recently he spoke too about the importance of legacy and the desire for a business’s CR strategy to create a positive social impact that lasts. While Aviva is currently in the process of wrapping up its 5-year Street to School programme, its work has inspired lasting change: governments have changed laws and instigated new policies. Indeed, isn’t it inspiration that drives change as much as regulation or policy?
So if your invite to Davos got lost in the post, other forms of inspiration have been thick on the ground this month, despite January being one of the ‘bluest’ times of year. If you’ve not caught up with the Alex Lewis story, then I urge you to check it out on the BBC website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-30803004). Entitled ‘The year I lost my limbs was the most brilliant of my life!’, it’s an amazing story of courage and strength, passion and love, in the face of incredible change.
I’ve also been taken aback by stories on the International Platform on Sport and Development website. There is incredible, awe-inspiring work being done by Dar al-Yasmin (DAY), an NGO that has been operating in the village of Zaatari in Jordan since early 2014. The Syrian refugee population in the village now outnumbers that of the Jordanians. Every second weekend, a large group of DAY volunteers make their way to the village to facilitate youth activity days. These activity days, or Habaybi as they are called, include interactive games, sports and projects focused on music, art, and physical well-being for both Jordanians and Syrian refugees between the ages of 5 and 16, who live in a world where change is the only constant.
Being inspired by stories such as these may well help you attack your 2015 CR strategy with a renewed vigour. And more importantly, ensure that change happens.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi.
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