Infectious, stubborn optimism and leadership lessons from Christiana Figueres

On Monday I was lucky enough to be a guest at the 100th Crowd Forum. A milestone marked by conversation with Christiana Figueres and a celebration of 100 inspirational evenings, 300 speakers, 17,000 attendees which have contributed to a collective conversation spanning nine years.

Christiana is something of a hero to me, and if she wasn’t before, she was by the end of the evening to everyone at the Crowd this week. She is known for her infectious, stubborn optimism and her extraordinary impact on the climate agenda. After inheriting the leadership role for the UN climate agreement in 2010, she played an instrumental role in 194 heads of state signing and ratifying the Paris Agreement. It was the first time that climate talks had ended in agreement.

You can watch Monday evening’s interview where Christiana and Axel Threlfall, Reuters, explore the role business can play, how the climate change agenda can prevail in a world of shifting priorities and where the breakthrough solutions are emerging

Watch: Christiana Figueres | The Crowd

Climate change talks can often leave you feeling hopeless in the face of enormous challenges and failing complex systems that are too big to tackle and too broken to fathom. This was not one of those evenings and Christina’s energy is inspirational, charming and completely infectious. The Q&A was dominated by requests for leadership tips and how to cope when times are tough. Here is what we learnt:

Tip number one, tip number two, tip number three: Listen, listen, listen. Until you learn the perspectives and journeys of others you cannot move forwards.

Its just fine to be stubborn: So long as you are stubbornly optimistic and stubborn for the common good.

When you have identified your mission, never give up. When one door closes, another one opens. And if it doesn’t, dig under the door, climb over it or find a route around it.

We already have the knowledge, we already have the technology, we already have the science and we already have the finance to tackle climate change. We just need to join the dots to get the darn thing done.

The big losers will be self defined by those who are unable to embrace change and move forwards. A fossil fuel company must redefine itself as a provider of energy and invest in renewables and new technology.

The 100th Crowd also marked farewell to CEO Jim Woods. I feel extremely privileged that he was chairing my roundtable discussion. His parting words of wisdom to us were a quote from anthropologist Margaret Mead

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

And on that note I hope you are also feeling a little more stubbornly optimistic too.

Happy Easter


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