July 2022 saw a global cohort of January participants descend into London for a week of knowledge sharing and condensing everything learnt, discussed, and discovered into a series of meaningful immersion sessions.The 'deep-dive' week was kicked off by Paul Polman, the author of Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take. Mr. Polman highlighted how crucial it is for everyone to take responsibility towards tackling the climate crisis. Globally, people need to understand that we can no longer speak about long term strategies where climate change is concerned. What were previously thought to be 'future plans' are no longer relevant as this problem is accelerating faster than anticipated, and we don’t want to miss the small window of progress which is rapidly closing. 

Governments, corporations, organizations, and citizens, all need to work together because the scale of these issues is growing faster than we can provide solutions. There needs to be a system change that requires a hyper-connected community. This is a call to CEOs to become collectively courageous in addressing multiple environmental issues; to leverage off each other and new experiences, resulting in increased confidence to scale projects and innovate at speed.

I particularly appreciate this concept of purpose-driven collaborations and conversations by corporates. I believe that this should be an inclusive approach - not just major corporates, but small players too - because if we embrace a supportive and inclusive culture, then there is more room for innovative thinking and transformation.

The January programme’s ‘Deep-Dive’ immersions exposed us to local businesses and multinational organizations to better understand how they are tackling the issue of climate change within their sector, and if they are making any strides in changing their habits and those of their stakeholders. These organizations varied; from local shelters, to global mining and construction corporates. Each had its unique set of challenges, each requiring a select skill set that needed to be deployed to address these issues.

We know that none of what we need to do can be done single-handedly. It is about working together, not only for our survival and longevity, but also for inter-generational, intra-generational, inter-species preservation.

My questions for all of us are:  

  1. Do we want to get better or not? 
  2. We have been given the opportunity to do something different regarding this climate crises, can we do better than what we have done? 
  3. Do we want to be identified as a generation that was too selfish to do the right thing? 
  4. Are we willing to work together as politicians, governments, corporates, and people - to take the risk - and look beyond the initial monetary cost to tackle this problem? 
  5. Are we too afraid of what we may achieve together, because we have for so long been living in this self-destructive cycle? 

There needs be to a deliberate and conscious dialogue between global leaders from all continents, countries, regions, and sectors on how we can use our differences to invest not only in ourselves, but in others - our families, corporate and business spaces and those outside our sphere of influence. There needs to be ownership by everyone regarding the problem the world is facing. This is not a one person problem - no one exists in a vacuum. Climate change has a name and an address – yours! 

The programme was concluded by Jean Oelwang, founding CEO and President of Virgin Unite, who highlighted that opportunities do exist to make a difference. The underlying systems are no longer fit for purpose. The world is more interconnected than ever before and in order to survive we need to create resilient and agile leaders. If we want to re-imagine and re-invent systems, we need to collaborate at a higher rate than we are currently.  

Lessons learnt:  

  1. Good things happen when people have the right motives and do the right things. 
  2. We cannot approach the problem of Climate Change with a lacklustre attitude and brushing it off. Everyone is impacted - the evidence is all around us. 
  3. We must work together with nature and mimic what nature does to ensure that life on earth is sustainable. 
  4. Procrastination will rob our generation and future generations. 
  5. Ignorance is no excuse!

The January Global Leaders Programme is hosted by Common Purpose. It is aptly named 'January' because of what the programme hopes to achieve; unlocking innovations and inspiring global collaboration.