Professor Jem Bendell

notes from a strategist and educator on social and organisational change

Archive for the ‘Talks’ Category

Engaging the Climate Tragedy

Posted by jembendell on November 26, 2016

When discussing the sorry state of efforts to address climate change with professionals working on this topic, across sectors, I often hear a reluctance to question whether it is too late to avert catastrophic climate change, or what such a view might mean for the focus of our work. Various objections to this view are raised and prevent open discussion or an evolution of work. Therefore, I decided to deliver a speech at a leading climate business and finance event in Australia, at Griffith University, to seek feedback on my argument that we must now shift focus.

In my keynote, Nov 29th, I’m outlining the following:

  1. There has been some progress on environmental issues in past decades, from reducing pollution, to habitat preservation, to waste management.
  2. Much valiant effort has been made to reduce carbon emissions over the last twenty years.
  3. There have been many steps forward on climate and carbon management, from awareness, to policies, to innovations.
  4. Larger and quicker steps must be taken and can be now that there is COP21 and major Chinese engagement on the issue.
  5. To support the maintenance and scaling of these efforts is essential.
  6. Small steps have been taken on adaptation to climate changes, such as flood defences and planning laws.
  7. Yet these steps on climate mitigation and adaptation are like walking up a landslide. If the landslide had not already begun, then quicker and bigger steps would get us to the top of where we want to be. But the latest climate data, emissions data and data on the spread of carbon-intensive lifestyles tell us that the landslide has already begun.

That the ground is already moving beneath our feet is summarised thus:

  1. The politically permissible scientific consensus is that we need to stay beneath 2 degrees warming of global ambient temperatures to avoid dangerous and uncontrollable levels of climate change, with impacts such as mass starvation, disease, flooding, storm destruction, migration and war
  2. If the world does not keep further anthropogenic emissions below a total of 1,300 billion tonnes we won’t keep average temperatures below that 2 degrees warming.
  3. If we are not already on the path to dramatic reductions we will not keep within this limit.
  4. We are not on such a path, with emissions still at around 50 million tonnes of CO2 a year and the decoupling of growth from emissions minimal.
  5. The uncertainties on the edge of scientific consensus do not suggest a respite, with some increased carbon sequestration through increased vegetation not as significant as the methane emissions not factored into most models, and where Arctic warming is already progressing beyond even the most extreme predictions.
  6. Therefore, we are set for disruptive and uncontrollable levels of climate change, bringing starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war.
  7. The implication is that we need to expand our climate work into a deep adaptation agenda, including resilience, relinquishment and restoration while learning why this tragedy is occurring.

I will explain more about that deep adaptation agenda in a moment. I realise that at this point the reader, or listener, might feeling a bit affronted, disturbed, or saddened. In the past few years, many people have said to me that “it can’t be too late to stop climate change, because if it was, how would we find the energy to keep on striving for change?” With such views, a possible reality is denied to permit a continued striving which has its rationale, therefore, not in serving the expressed goal but in maintaining self-identities related to espoused values. This form of denial is different from outright climate denial, but is also unhelpful, as John Foster argues well in his book After Sustainability (2015).

It is emotionally difficult at first, but we need to move beyond that pretence if we are to remain relevant. In doing so, we open ourselves up to discuss a ‘deep adaption’ agenda as well as exploring why this tragedy has begun and why we have been so poor at responding effectively. I will make some brief comments on these topics before concluding with some thoughts on how we evolve our research accordingly.

A deep adaption agenda will involve increasing resilience, relinquishment and restoration Resilience involves people and communities better coping with disruptions. Examples include how river catchments can better cope with rains, or how buildings can better cope with floods. What I’m calling relinquishment, involves people and communities letting go of certain assets, behaviours and beliefs where retaining them could make matters worse. Examples include withdrawing from coastlines or giving up expectations for certain types of consumption. Restoration involves people and communities rediscovering attitudes and approaches to life and organisation that the hydrocarbon-fuelled civilisation eroded. Examples include re-wilding landscapes so they provide more ecological benefits and require less management, or increased community-level productivity and support.

There will be increasing discussion about what is to be learned from the tragedy of climate change, and honest inquiry existing alongside strategic attempts at framing disruption, degradation and loss to maintain one’s relative power in society.  Disruption, degradation and collapse will be framed by different people as a resulting from foreigners, capitalism, industrialism, individualism, consumerism, patriarchy, anthropomorphism, secularism, liberalism, progressivism, and atomism (where we see things as separate). We are even seeing framing of disruption by religious fundamentalists, who, to my knowledge, don’t discuss climate but seek to respond to the disruption it has already caused. One study by Columbia University argues that in Syria, the worst drought in 100s of years, made worse by climate change, led to 1.5 million people being displaced from their lives in rural areas and increased food prices in cities. Some radical Islamists were able to thrive in this situation with their explanations of cause and solution, replacement stories of personal identity and purpose, and offers of sustenance.

My own analysis is that the West’s response as restricted by the dominance of neoliberal economics since the 1970s. That led to hyper-individualist, market fundamentalist, incremental and atomistic approaches. By hyper-individualist, I mean a focus on individual action as consumers, switching light bulbs or buying sustainable furniture, rather than promoting political action as engaged citizens. By market fundamentalist, I mean a focus on market mechanisms like the complex, costly and largely useless carbon cap and trade systems, rather than exploring what more government intervention could achieve. By incremental, I mean a focus on celebrating small steps forward such as a company publishing a sustainability report, rather than strategies designed for a speed and scale of change suggested by the science. By atomistic, I mean a focus on seeing climate action as a separate issue from the governance of markets, finance and banking, rather than exploring what kind of economic system could permit or enable sustainability.

Given this context, while the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the culture they reflect are helpful for non-climate related matters, given the systemic nature of the impacts of global warming, they may be ill-focused. Instead “minimum survival goals” would be more appropriate, to reduce the rate of increase in starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war. We don’t need consensus on that, but a shift right now from those who have a professional income, skill set and network to work on matters broadly related to climate change and its effects.

The implications for researchers working on climate issues, whether on campaigning, policy, business, finance, include asking the following questions:

On other’s research:

“How might these findings inform efforts for a more massive & urgent transformation to resilience & relinquishment in face of collapse?”

On one’s own research:

“If I didn’t believe in incremental incorporation of climate concerns into current organisations and systems, what might I want to know more about?”

“How might neglected theories of political economy suggest I inquire into this or related topics?”

To explore some of these ideas further, my recent writings may be of interest, on implications for the future of the climate debate, on what sustainability leadership involves, on how we need to heal capitalism, and how we need to ask ourselves tough questions if we consider ourselves climate activists. Better still, these publications will help you explore this emerging “post-sustainability” paradigm:

Benson, M. and Craig, R. (2014) ‘The End of Sustainability’, Society and Natural Resources 27; 777-782

Foster, J. (2015) After Sustainability (Abingdon: Earthscan from Routledge)

Hamilton, C. (2010) Requiem for a Species (London: Earthscan)

Hamilton, C. et al. (eds.) (2015) The Anthropocene and the Global Environmental Crisis (Abingdon: Routledge)

Jamieson, D. (2014)  Reason in a Dark Time (Oxford: Oxford University Press)

Mulgan, T. (2011) Ethics for a Broken World  (Durham: Acumen)

As the point of no return can’t be fully known until after the event, ambitious work on reducing carbon must increase. But a new front of work on deep adaptation is as important today. Understandable emotional traumas from realising the tragedy that is coming, and in many ways upon us already, shouldn’t prevent us from exploring what this probable reality could mean for our choices now. Moreover, from social psychology, there is some evidence to suggest that by focusing on impacts now, it makes climate change more proximate, which increases support for mitigation.

In my talk at Griffith I explore more about the nature and future of leadership in light of this assessment of the climate tragedy.

More on the event is here.

Posted in Academia and Research, Sustainable Development, Talks | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Upcoming talks and workshops in 2015

Posted by jembendell on February 13, 2015

Ive finalised my calendar for talks and workshops for the first half of 2015. To find out more information or book a place, follow the links provided.

March 18th-21st London, UK: Lecturing on Sustainable Exchange masters module.

A talk in 2014

A talk in 2014

March 19th London, UK: Panellist at Tomorrow’s Transactions Forum.March 30th Geneva, Switzerland: Disruptive Leadership, talk at Hub Geneva.

May 16th-17th Copenhagen, Denmark: Keynote on Leadership, Transition World opening summit.

June 7th New York, USA: Transforming Money, speech at the Global University of the Entrepreneur’s Organisation.

June 16th Ambleside, UK: Disruptive Leadership: Innovating major changes for sustainability, Open Lecture at Institute for Leadership and Sustainability, University of Cumbria.

June 17th and 18th Carlisle and Lancaster, UK. Engagement and Influence: How to Communicate Your Work, a workshop at the University of Cumbria. Request attendance via iflas@cumbria.ac.uk

July 10th-15th Lecturing on the Certificate of Achievement in Sustainable Leadership.

July 16th Ambleside, UK: Opening Address at Leading Wellbeing Research Festival, July 16-18.

Sept 7th to 11th Ambleside, UK: Workshop on Values-Inspired Leadership, at Impact International.

If you would like me to keynote or run a workshop from September onwards, let me know with an email to jb [at] jembendell dot com.

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Financial Freedom: Text of Speech at Guardian Activate Conference

Posted by jembendell on July 17, 2014

Today I spoke at the Guardian newspaper’s Activate conference in London. The audience was mostly comprised of VCs, Financial Tech specialists, Sharing Economy start ups, and others interested in the potential of tech to disrupt the way we pay and co-rent. Here, below, is the text of the speech.

guardian

“Thanks for the introduction, Stephen. Yes, I founded at an institute for leadership and sustainability, in the Lake District. A land known for hiking, sheep, poetry, rabbits… and bitcoin. Earlier this year we became the first public university to accept the crypto currency. We decided to accept bitcoin to learn by doing, as we teach a Masters-level course on currency innovation. In the course we explore how currency systems and sharing platforms might help sustain our communities and environment. But what Ive come to understand is that if we want to shape the future of money then first we must understand the present nature of money. So before I tell you what I’m excited about, let me explain what I’m grumpy about.

About 97% of money we use is created by private bank lending, which comes with interest. When we borrow, the money is created by the bank, not taken from savings. The amount owed to banks, which is the amount borrowed plus the interest, is always more than the amount borrowed. It means that collectively we are in debt forever, so inequality is inevitable.

With this system of money creation, banks decide who gets the new money and for what. So about 80% of new money is created for property loans. That inflates the price of property, so house prices are 8000% higher than in 1950. That’s not market forces, but the result of our monetary system. I know many people who are in jobs they hate, or who have ignored a vocational calling, because of the mortgage. Some people I know have got ill because their mortgage locks them into a certain lifestyle. Unless we start out with a lot of capital, it’s less a property ladder than a property prison.

But what to do about it?

I take inspiration from a South African anti-apartheid campaigner. In the 1970s Tim Jenkin was imprisoned for 12 years for his activism, to be served in a high security jail in Pretoria. Given the injustice of the system Tim considered it his duty to try to break out of jail. Which he did after 18 months, and fled the country. Fast forward to 2003, Tim had returned to South Africa. He saw that people are oppressed by the current monetary system, and he wanted to free them.

He created Community Exchange Systems with free open source software. They now have 50,000 users, in over 700 locations worldwide. Instead of units of ‘money’ being issued into circulation according to a policy or algorithm, peers extend credit to each other. It means people who have little money but have time, skills and resources, can start helping each other and trading with each other, without official money. This is “collaborative credit” as it involves members of a network trusting each other rather than a bank. Collaborative credit doesn’t come with interest demands or create asset price inflation. There are over a thousand such systems worldwide, but they are largely under the radar of the media, VCs or philanthropists.

Bitcoin has opened minds the idea that fintech can help us transact in alternative currencies, but there’s a long way to go. Now we need to understand how currencies can be designed to support communities and the environment. Bitcoin fans often speak of financial freedom, yet the issuance and distribution of bitcoin makes Thatcher look like a communist. Moreover, it is delusional to believe that money should be a thing of value, rather than a way of keeping score amongst people and organisations doing useful things for each other. We can’t eat money, we can’t eat gold, we can’t eat bitcoin. The real wealth is our lives, communities and environment. We need currency systems that support such wealth, not undermine it. We need positive transformation of our monetary systems, not just disruption.

People like Tim Jenkin have launched collaborative credit systems without financial backing. Now fintech and sharing economy start-ups have a role to play, but to do so they need to design business models that will empower people not make them captive. I hear some people in fintech and the collaborative economy looking to exit to a major multinational. That might let their founders and shareholders escape the prison of the mainstream monetary system, but leave that prison with new walls and stronger guards.

We need a considered dialogue about how to prevent monopolistic practices, protect users, and involve them in the governance of new systems for sharing, currency and payment. It starts with recognising our purpose here is greater than feel-good projects, funky start-ups, or getting rich. We have the potential to design systems that will shape economies, societies and environments for decades to come. So why not make that issue our business?”

 

To read more about Collaborative Credit, see my article on the Guardian website. Ill tweet the video of the talk when its available (@jembendell)

You can download the introduction to Healing Capitalism for free.

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Homeschooling world changers

Posted by jembendell on July 28, 2013

“Why are we running around trying to be more successful in a system that is driving us to collective suicide?”

At a conference on women’s leadership, I spoke about the role of education in enabling the critical thinking that is necessary for leadership. I explored the relevance of the approach of Charlotte Mason, who founded the Lake District campus in 1892 which is now the home of our Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS). In the talk I challenge participants to question their assumptions in order to drive change, rather than just “succeed” within existing systems that are damaging people and planet. I reveal one famous activist was home schooled, and what his mother told me about her approach to his education. You can discuss this talk in our Linked In group, linked via www.iflas.info

 

 

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Finding the Opportunity in Crisis – the Greece currency workshop

Posted by jembendell on October 3, 2012

Outside the Academy

The Academy in Crete

Here is the final line up for the 1.5 day event in Greece on alternative exchange and currencies…  There’s still time to register for the summit. Crisis is opportunity!

October 10th

900-1000
An introduction to money and its effects
Thomas Greco, best selling author on community currencies 1hr

1000-1030
Why “Sustainability” Professionals Need to Embrace Alternative Exchange
Professor Jem Bendell, Uni of Cumbria 30 mins

1030
Coffee, 15 mins

1045-1200
The Effects of Different Currencies: The Trading Game
Jem Bendell and Sybille Saint Girons, Les Valeureux, 1hr 15mins

1200-100
Experiences with TEM in Volos and Chania
Giannis Grigoriou, Volos TEM & Giannis Bouleros, Chania TEM, 1hr

100-215
Lunch, 1hr

215-300
Lessons from Argentina’s Social Money Movement 2001-2002
Sergio Lub, Favors.org and Thomas Greco, 45 mins

300-345
Design and Software Issues for Alternative Exchange
Matthew Slater, Community Forge 45 mins

345-400
Tea, 15 mins

400-515
Expert Roundtable
Thomas Greco, Matthew Slater, Giannis Grigoriou, Hamish Jenkins (United Nations) and Sybille Saint Girons. Chaired by Jem Bendell, 1hr

October 11th

900-930
Breakout meetings on key questions, 30 mins

930-1015
Research findings on alternative exchange in Greece
Irene Sotiropoulou, University of Crete, 45 mins

1015-1030
Coffee, 15 mins

1030-1130
Key success factors and limiting factors in mutual credit
Thomas Greco, 1hr

1130-1200
Software Demonstration
Matthew Slater, 30 mins

1200-100
Facilitated dialogue on key questions from breakout meetings
Facilitated by Jem Bendell, 1hr

100-130
Conclusions on next steps
Facilitated by Jem Bendell, 30 mins

130
Lunch
1hr

In the afternoon, depending on interest and attendance, experts and practitioners in community currencies may convene for a hosted dialogue on “Globalising Localisation: how can we help each other?”

Posted in Occupy, Sustainable Development, Talks | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

My talks in October

Posted by jembendell on September 29, 2012

This October, I will be speaking at the following events:

Singapore, on 4th, at Syinc, evening talk on the future of money

Crete, Greece, 10th and 11th, at ESA, 2 day workshop on alternative exchange and currency systems

Barcelona, Spain, on 19th, at Future Economy, a talk on the future of luxury and brands

Lancaster, UK, 31st, at University of Cumbria, with Thomas Greco on alternative exchange and currency systems

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Join some meaningful fun in Crete

Posted by jembendell on July 14, 2012

View from ESA

View from the Academy

An important milestone arrives in October – my 40th. I’ll be in Crete, where friends in the field of sustainability have created a unique place for experiential learning about sustainable enterprise and living. Lovely people doing great things across Europe will come together for the ‘end of summit’ party, and my birthday, in true Cretan style with lots of tasty local food with far too much wine and raki accompanied by raucous Cretan music and dancing!

Would you like to join us in a stunning state of the art eco-building in an ancient Cretan olive grove with 2000m snow capped mountain backdrop? I would be chuffed if you did.

Outside the Academy

Outside the Academy

My birthday, Friday 12th October, will be the final day of the Inaugural Summit of the European Sustainability Academy (ESA). So, if you are interested in sustainability or social change, then you would enjoy arriving earlier in the week for some of the courses and events. And especially if you are inquisitive about wellness practices, such as Yoga or Qi Gong, which will occur at various times that week. Then on Saturday 13th October there is an organised tour of local eco-enterprises and a boat trip.

Nearby Almyrida

Nearby Almyrida

The party will be happening at Liberta Villas, 2km from ESA in the village of Palaloni. I’m promised its an exquisite location with a stunning 2600m mountain backdrop. ESA is on the edge of the village of Drapanos. Liberta has some accommodation, as do the two villages, and there is still more at the nearby beach town of Almyrida (email Sharon for info: Sharon.Jackson at eurosustainability.org).

Liberta Villas

Liberta Villas

I hear that in Greece right now there is an exciting air of change and thirst for new ideas and innovations. On the 10th I will co-lead a seminar with Matthew Slater of CommunityForge.net on creating and participating in alternative exchange systems and community currencies. We will be joined by Greeks who are pioneering these solutions to the current crisis. On the 11th I will support my Lifeworth colleague Ian Doyle in leading the now-famous ‘Giving Voice to Values’ training, which helps us to understand our values and express them in difficult situations. On the morning of the 12th there will be a ‘sustainability leadership’ round-table involving some Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum. Then Eva Voutsaki, from Crete, will guide us through a process of developing autobiographic narratives for clarifying our personal goals, and Ed Gillespie, from Futerra, will helps us explore the importance of authenticity in our communications. Greek pioneers of sustainable enterprise and lifestyles will also be attending during the second week of the summit (which starts Oct 8th).

Inside ESA

Inside ESA

The programme will be uploaded and updated soon at www.EuroSustainability.org. The nearest airport is Chania, and Heraklion is an hour and a half away: www.whichbudget.com and www.skyscanner.net are places to find out routes. At least one guest is coming by ferry and trains. See http://www.loco2.com/ or ask me for info on overland/sea transport (as you could travel with other sustainability adventurers).

ESA opening

ESA opening

There’s no cost for attendance on the 12th or for the party. No presents either, please. Just support something local if you want to (we’ll come up with ideas). If you want to come earlier in the week for some of the events, which makes total sense, or even the full 2 week sustainability summit (what a treat!), then please email Sharon Jackson about details and fees: Sharon.Jackson at eurosustainability.org As the academy building isnt huge, and transport is cheaper if booked earlier, you should go for it now!

I do hope you can come and help me celebrate in a meaningful way.

The address:

European Sustainability Academy
Jackson A.S, Drapanos, 73008 Vamos, Chania.
http://www.EuroSustainability.org
Inaugural Sustainability Summit
2nd October – 14th October 2012

The address of my party on the 12th:
http://www.libertavillas.gr/

Posted in My Life, Sustainable Development, Talks | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

The answer to financial chaos lies on an island in Sweden

Posted by jembendell on July 1, 2012

The financial crisis is actually a monetary crisis, and you can do something about it now.

On an island next to Stockholm, leaders in systemic solutions to financial chaos are gathering at a sustainability festival. Join them at the Future Perfect festival in Stockholm on 23-26 August, and hear a panel on monetary reforms and innovations for sustainability, and a workshop for executives who want to start, scale or participate in alternative means of exchange.

Panel: “Currencies of Transition: monetary reforms and innovations for sustainability.”

Chair: Professor Jem Bendell (Lifeworth Consulting, Community Forge and Griffith Business School)

Ben Dyson, director of Positive Money, which campaigns for a systemic solution to monetary crises, by full reserve banking.

Josh Ryan Collins, New Economics Foundation, the Brixton Pound and co-author of “Where does money come from?”

Lynnea Bylund, Board Member, Ormita, the international business barter network.

Matthew Slater, Board Member, Community Forge, a leading provider of open source software for community currencies, and editor of Community Currency magazine.

The panel will address the questions: Is a fair and sustainable economy possible with our debt-driven money system? If not, what needs to change? What is being done already? What can we do to get involved, personally and professionally? How can we make this a movement? What mistakes can we avoid?

Workshop: “How alternative exchange systems work and how to get started”

Trainers: Professor Jem Bendell and Matthew Slater

The trainers work with Community Forge, which provides free open source software for community currencies. This video explains why, what and how Community Forge operates.

You will be able to interact with these experts and others attracted to the topic, at a world class music festival! To book your tickets to the festival, visit http://www.futureperfect.se

The workshop will also be offered in Greece in the second week of October. Contact the European Sustainability Academy for more information.

Posted in Corporations, Counter-Globalization Movement, Lifeworth, Occupy, Sustainable Development, Talks | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fixing the Global Jobs Crisis: time to leave assumptions behind

Posted by jembendell on June 6, 2012

Mass unemployment is becoming a headache for all world leaders. At the World Economic Forums (WEF) in Davos, Bangkok and Istanbul, people were talking about how to address growing unemployment.

To find real solutions to this global jobs crisis we need to be clear on the cause of the problem. The conversations I heard at the WEF revealed widely shared yet false assumptions about key causes of unemployment. The key myths are, as follows:

Myth 1: “Unemployment is due to falling demand.”

Are people’s needs really falling? Or just the amount of money in circulation to employ people/assets to meet those needs?

Myth 2: “Unemployment is due to technology displacing human labour.”

Could we not design systems of ownership and revenue distribution so that the income from technology frees us to work creatively and caringly for each other? How can we govern technology to release us to a world of service, not a life of redundancy?

Myth 3: “Unemployment is due to the cost of hiring and firing.”

Why then do some countries with high wages and labour standards, like Scandinavia, have less % unemployment? Where would competition between nations to lower costs of hiring and firing lead us?

Myth 4: “Unemployment is due to a lack of skills and appetite for the new types of work.”

The world has more skilled labour than ever before, and more labour mobility than ever before, and many people with Masters degrees can’t get a job.

Myth 5: “Unemployment is due to the option to claim benefits.”

Why then was the existence of benefits not keeping people out of the workforce before the recession? Why do some countries with the most supportive welfare states, like Scandinavia, have less % unemployment?

These assumptions arise from a general lack of understanding about the first key function of a currency, which is to help connect assets, including people’s time, with needs. If a currency becomes scarce in an economy, then there is less ability for exchange. That means needs go unmet, and assets go underutilised. Its called unemployment.

I recorded a short interview for the social media corner of WEF in Istanbul to explain where we need to start looking for real solutions to the global jobs crisis.

Posted in Corporations, Occupy, Sustainable Development, Talks | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Job Creation Without Austerity or Debt

Posted by jembendell on May 21, 2012

In the face of financial crisis and mass unemployment, do you believe we have to choose between either austerity or debt-funded economic growth? Its a false choice, based on false assumptions. My video-keynote at a forthcoming conference in Denmark, explains how we can achieve job creation without austerity or more debt, by redesigning our monetary systems.

If you are near Denmark, go join the conversation at Rebuild21.

Want to learn more? Access more materials.

Posted in Academia and Research, Counter-Globalization Movement, Occupy, Sustainable Development, Talks | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »