Gold and silver have been desired for ages. And that desire has come at a huge price. Here’s just one number: an estimated 8 million (!) people have died in the Potosi silver mines in present-day Bolivia since Spanish colonialists started mining silver there in 1546. That would come to 46 deaths per day every day for over four centuries.
When asked what business innovation the world needs the most on the way to justice for all people and sustainability for the planet, Mamphela Ramphele responds quickly: “The most important innovation is a changed mindset.” We are speaking over a Skype line connecting California with Cape Town in South Africa. “Future success will be determined by a mindset that does not assume that the future is a continuation of the past.”
In 1880—four years after he had invented the telephone—Alexander Graham Bell made another invention that he himself considered his greatest. Today, almost 140 years later, that invention stands to change the Internet and the online world that we know in profound ways.
In recent months—inspired by Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II—the widespread problem of plastic pollution has suddenly prompted some bold action. The story of the first supermarket with a “plastic free isle” in the Netherlands went viral and inspired consumers across the globe to demand similar initiatives in their countries. In the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth in a high-profile decision banned plastic straws and bottles from all royal estates. Then a group of 40 major British companies—including Nestlé and Coca-Cola—pledged in the “UK Plastics Pact” to eradicate single-use plastics from their packaging by 2025 and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi went even further promising a ban on single-use plastics in his whole country in 2022.
Size matters to Christopher Wasserman. In a world where bigger is supposed to be better and where billionaires rule, Wasserman, a Swiss entrepreneur, is building an intimate platform where business leaders can meet to jointly find answers to the challenges of our times. Since 2010 the Zermatt Summit has hosted an annual conference and ongoing conversations with the mission to bring people back in the economy. The credo of the Zermatt Summit is that, ultimately, people change the world—not money. “After the financial crisis of 2008, everyone seemed to think that finance was at the center of the economy and that human beings were basically objects”, Wasserman says, “we want to make sure that we adjust the focus of the economic paradigm from growth and ‘objects’ to well-being and ‘people’.”
“We don’t ask the earth to produce more. We do more with what the earth already produces”. Gunter Pauli’s opening statement puts the conventional model of food and energy production on its head. We live in a reality wherein we ship butter, sugar, palm oil, eggs, milk and dried fruits around the globe to bake cookies that are also shipped around the world so that we can have cookies whenever and wherever we desire, at whatever cost. That oversimplified approach to production in ever-higher volumes has led to a world of hunger and pollution amidst plenty.
Gas is the future. That may sound counterintuitive in an emerging world of renewable energy where new solar power records are set on a monthly basis. However, for Joost Wouters, Dutch engineer and entrepreneur at The Seaweed Company and Inrada Group, there’s no doubt: in the future, we will continue to use gas-fired stoves to cook our meals and warm our homes with gas-burning heating systems. Gas? Yes, biogas from seaweed.