Season of Good Will & Good News Messages from Global Leaders

Season of Good Will & Good News Messages from Global Leaders

The 100 Global Sustain Ability Leaders for 2012 are a positively bright collection of people from all around the world. They are committed, patience people, ever ready to recognise hopeful signs and draw attention to good deeds, innovations and sustainable practices. So when we asked them for words to inspire our readers at this time of goodwill, peace and hope, here’s what some of them provided. More to come in the next issue – the first for 2013. Pictured:  Ian Lowe from Australia and May East from Scotland. Read more

Messages from 100 Global Sustain Ability Leaders:

Ian Lowe, South Australia:

Tidings of comfort and joy: South Australia is now getting 25 per cent of all its electricity from wind power and 20 per cent of SA households now have solar electricity. As a result of these developments, all SA households are getting cheaper electricity because of declining wholesale prices. While governments have dithered, Australian householders have installed 2000 Megawatts of solar power in the last three years. When the people lead, perhaps the leaders will follow?


Robert Quirk, New South Wales:

My dear old mum always said there is always some one who needs your help.

My focus over the last 20 years has been in reducing the impacts of sugar cane growing on the environment.

Last week I attended a meeting in London where my attention was drawn to the plight of the sugar cane workers in central America  and Sri Lanka.

In central America alone there has been 20,000 sugar cane workers die from kidney disease in the last 10 years. Cane cutters have a life expectancy of 47 years with 60% of all the workers having some kidney problems . In both CA and Sri Lanka,  the problem does seem to be much worse on the lowlands, where the drinking water is drawn from wells.

It is possible that the wells could be in acid sulfate soils , which can be rich in iron aluminum and in some cases arsenic.

If anyone has any thoughts on the possible cause  or can help please let us know.


Simon Thomas, United World College, Singapore:

As someone this involved in the business of education, perhaps the biggest single opportunity we have is to install the next generations with enough knowledge to propose solutions and take action.


In the words of Felix Finkbeiner -  “ I don’t have much hope that adults will do something. So we children will do it ourselves.”

Best wishes to all for the festive season and for a positive and productive year ahead.


May East, Chief Executive CIFAL Scotland:

May 2013 bring us all renewed opportunities to end extreme poverty in all its forms, and to advance the emerging SDG and the critical low carbon agendas.

“Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness the energies of love. Then for the second time in history of the world, we will have discovered fire.”  Teilhard de Chardin


From Louise Metcalf, Sydney, Australia:

For us here at PAX, it’s been a year of great success but what we’ve seen is change at the local level. We train leaders to drive sustainability, something like creating a sustainability army at all levels in organisations of all types in Australia, and now also Chile and Thailand. We measure everything we do  and this year we got statistically significant behaviour change results from our sustainability leadership development programs. Basically, we did it! The army is starting to change the world. I think this is how it will happen. It won’t be law or politicians or even big organisations, it will be those leaders at the local level out there trying to address real sustainability issues, on the ground, in communities. They are our shining lights. Every time we run a program I feel more hopeful about all this. Our local leaders struggle, we train resilience, they inspire, we train collective visioning etc. etc. but it’s their personal leadership journeys that I am deep admiration for. Such bravery! They are the real game changers. I can’t wait to see what they do next year because this army is growing, our programs are already heavily booked for 2013.


Tony Frost, South Africa:

Some thoughts for the new year and to end this old one:

•             It has been a tough year for Rhino in South Africa (with over 500 slaughtered) but never before has there been some much combined action from civil society, government and various enforcement and environmental agencies to bring this cruel, distasteful and totally unnecessary killing to an end. Perhaps in 2013 we will see the benefits of the use of weapons and equipment much more usually associated with war than the environment begin to turn the tide against the unscrupulous crime syndicates and the ruthless poachers. If there is a ‘good’ war this is one worth winning!

•             It seems that even governments are beginning to get it – the lead agency in South Africa for Climate Change action is the South African National Biodiversity Institute and it was allocated extra funds this year with which to advance the cause of in the region!

•             In the latest survey of Reputation SA a company that studies and consults in the area of reputation management it emerged that the top spot this last survey was filled by a giant retailer here, Woolworths. This company has staked its reputation, and indeed, built its business on being unashamedly and openly green. Its entire business and image is built on a platform of sustainability. In among the other companies to emerge at the top is Nedbank, a bank which has also embraced the green space to amazing effect.

•             The US is increasingly confident of securing its position in local energy production to a very great extent on the back of recently tapped stores of gas via fracking and other controversial methods. However the good news is that the companies exploiting these reserves are publicly committing themselves to a constant effort to have as minimal negative effect on the environment as possible. In South Africa ‘fracking’ is a hot topic and has been for awhile, with Shell leading the charge to unlock large shale gas reserves in the Central Karoo right in the heartland of our country. The government has adopted a very cautious approach to giving the go-ahead to ensure that environmental impacts are at the absolute minimum. For a country that needs a bountiful supply of affordable energy to grow the economy these reserves are very seductive. It is heartening to note the approach being taken by government and also the increased expenditure on unlocking the potential of solar power (of which we have an unlimited supply) and wind which is somewhat more complicated; but with new supplies from windfarms coming on stream almost continuously for the next few years we are beginning to tap more vigorously than ever before into sustainable alternative forms of energy.

•             Finally, a superficial observation is that the environmental NGOs seem to be doing reasonably well notwithstanding the economic difficulties that everyone is abundantly aware of. Huge quantities of money have been poured by all sectors of society into combating Rhino poaching. This has had a spin-off for other environmental efforts as the iconic Rhinoceros is increasingly being seen a symbol for conserving the interconnectedness of everything that keeps our Planet turning and tumbling in a way that sustains life as we know it!

In short, while 2012 has been a year of challenges and turmoil it has also been a year of opportunity and growth and has laid a useful platform to take the cause further and higher and faster in 2013!

Sara Gipton, CEO, Greenfleet, Australia:

I have some favourites from  American Presidents past…

Calvin Coolidge -

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

John F Kennedy -

All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days, nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet.  But let us begin.

Franklin D Roosevelt -

Men and nature must work hand in hand.

The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature,

throws out of balance also the lives of men.


Mike Duggan, Brisbane, Australia:

Every year at this time I reflect upon the year that was, the success and challenges (both personally and as part of the wider society) and part of this reflection comprises the reading of a poem (which I read from time to time throughout the year anyways to help me maintain my drive).  Years ago a colleague of mine gave me a coffee cup with this poem written on it that he had indeed been given by a colleague in the past himself.  Ray Anderson himself read this poem during a Ted Talk a number of years ago.  If anything, now with young children, this poem inspires me to do what I do in life.  Coming into Christmas and New Year I think it apt to share with your readers if you see fit.

Tomorrow’s Child

by Glenn Thomas

Without a name; an unseen face

and knowing not your time nor place

Tomorrow’s Child, though yet unborn,

I met you first last Tuesday morn.

A wise friend introduced us two,

and through his sobering point of view

I saw a day that you would see;

a day for you, but not for me

Knowing you has changed my thinking,

for I never had an inkling

That perhaps the things I do

might someday, somehow, threaten you

Tomorrow’s Child, my daughter-son

I’m afraid I’ve just begun

To think of you and of your good,

Though always having known I should.

Begin I will to weigh the cost

of what I squander; what is lost

If ever I forget that you

will someday come to live here too.



Alison Rowe, Fujitsu, Australia:

Sustainability is a long enduring path. I am confident this is the right path to choose and many will follow. Wishing everyone well and looking forward to an exciting year ahead.


Tony Boatman, Singapore:

In a previous life I was head of Marketing for Microsoft in Asia. Christmas often reminds me of my time there. The holiday season was special as it was the peak opportunity to generate demand for a bunch of products that no one needed, such as Xbox gaming consoles. I now cringe at the TV commercials promoting Xbox games as ‘Christmas stocking fillers’, which all inevitably end up in land fill. At this time of the year I often reflect on what I need and come to the same old conclusion. Not much – A few good friends, a laugh, a cold beer and a renewed desire to get up in 2013 and continue to work for a sustainable future.

Anne-Maree Huxley, Founder and CEO MOSS, Australia:  

It may have been a tragic year for many – but with darkness comes light and I’m seeing people all over the world wake up and stand tall – being both creative and collaborative to bring forth new innovation – new solutions – new life.   Gunter Pauli, the Zeri Network and the Blue Economy now boasts 100 innovations to transform society doing more with less and build social capital.  We are seeing the creation of impact funds to ensure these global solutions come to life.

December 21 sees the Summer Solstice and the end of the Mayan Calendar  – a time of renewal.  I’m very excited about the time in which we live and very much look forward to the many projects and initiatives MOSS and BE Sustainable will bring in 2013.  So blessings to all.  Stand tall – dream big and remember you are the master of your destiny.


Ruth Yeoh, YTL, Malaysia & Singapore:

To add, “I’m dreaming of a ‘Green Christmas’ where everyone does their part, not only by spreading the message of sustainability but by actually acting on it. For example, instead of buying more wrapping paper to wrap presents, why not re-use old magazines to do so? It IS easy being green, and if you put your heart into it.”


David Baggs, Ecospecifier, Australia:

I’ve been touched numerous times recently by the people in manufacturing who are willing to step up and step outside the box- in various ways.

Some have been incredibly generous in providing confidential information about products we are not even certifying to help us get the settings right for new personal products and cleaning products standards, others have gone out of their way to assist us get our heads around new technologies in marketing and communications and help us innovate new ways to connect with actual users of our certification and their products.

Even more have committed to increasing the breadth of products they want certified in Australia and Internationally, committing up to 3 years in advance to a program to expand new certifications into other sectors, still others have gone away to re-develop their products to reduce certain negative impacts that would not have prevented certification, but they want their products to be the best they can and so commit to improving them once they have the understanding of how they can make them more health or eco-safe.

We also have community members on our advisory panels who give freely of their time to provide consumer feedback on the standards we are proposing in the interests of the broader society. It is humbling to see the generosity, commitment, drive, and dedication of these individuals who each in their own way show how important they feel it is to help reduce the health and eco-impacts of products or increase the trust in communication about the green characteristics of products so that consumers and specifiers will, and can more easily, make the effort to buy green.


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