Robert Swan, explorer and founder of 2041, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the Antarctic, explains the environmental and financial significance of the date and the leadership concept of taking small steps toward long-term goals.
Krystal Rose: I noticed you’re wearing the 2041. Can you tell the audience what that means?
Robert Swan: Well, Antarctica is the only place in the world that we all own. No one owns Antarctica.
Krystal Rose: The entire world.
Robert Swan: The entire world owns it, so you have a piece of Antarctica the size of a football pitch. It’s yours, but so does everybody – all 7.2 million billion of us own a small piece. It’s ours. In 2041, the treaty that preserves Antarctica for us all can be altered, can be changed, can be scrapped. And if we’re stupid enough, which we are, we’re going to go down there and exploit the only place in the world that we all own.
I’ve tried my best to preserve it in two ways.
One is by engaging young people who will be voting in 2041. Secondly is to be a renewable energy champion and tester. Because if we’re using more clean, renewable energy here in the real world, then it won’t make financial sense in 2041 to go and exploit Antarctica. I’m very proud actually, I’d like to end on this, is that Oracle and the team have chosen a really cool hotel here, the Mandalay Bay, because on the roof here are, I think, 26,000 square feet of solar panels. You wouldn’t know that, but it’s true. So we’re in a really good building here in Las Vegas showing the way.
But as we know, there’s plenty of sun in Las Vegas, so I’m sure they’re actually saving money through it.
Krystal Rose: That’s a benefit to doing the right thing, right?
Robert Swan: It’s too right, too right.
Krystal Rose: My takeaway from this message of 2041 – and I’m sure this can be applied to businesses that have long term goals but think in short term increments – some may say 2041 is so far away, but what I hear from you, the key to getting everyone on board to making positive change, or reaching your mission, is to get people engaged, make those small changes necessary, and find a personal connection.
Robert Swan: Yeah, I think it’s all to do with people, that’s what we are. Every company is people. The planet is people. And people find it very hard to look 50 years ahead, 25 years ahead. But give people small, achievable steps on the way and that’s a very important leadership thing. You know, how do you get from here to there? Well, don’t think about there. Think about here.
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