The car horns are blaring, the taxi’s stop-starting, and the air is suffused with the delicate scent of diesel. All of which means we’re back in Mumbai, live blogging from a rush hour jam. (If you can’t pound away on your laptop in Indian traffic, you’ll get precious little done in a day’s work.)
Forum Director Stephanie Draper and I have been exploring some exciting possibilities for extending our work with corporates here, including partnering with one of the country’s leading business schools to deliver sustainability training – something which, time and again, we’ve been told is seriously lacking in India.
We’re heading up to Delhi, joining Jonathon Porritt for four days of intense conferenceering – first at the World CEO Sustainability Summit, followed promptly by the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit. The ‘DSDS’ as it’s known here, is India’s big annual green bash – a gathering of companies, NGOs and a smattering of Ministers – with an impressive turnout this year from the Indian Cabinet.
We’ll be launching the Green Futures Special Edition, India: Innovation Nation [free to download here] at a media event and on the conference platform itself. I spent several months in India at the end of last year, gathering sustainability success stories on everything from solar rickshaws in Bengal to intelligent buildings in Bangalore, talking to the leading figures active in the field in India, and then distilling it all (a tight squeeze) into a magazine’s worth of stories.
There’s no doubt that this huge country is awash with bright ideas for green innovation – from rural villages to corporate HQs. But there are also hefty obstacles in the way of scaling these up: upfront costs, perverse subsidies, inherent conservatism, uncertain governance and challening infrastructure, among many. But there’s also no doubting the appetite for change: it strikes you time and time again. Forum is looking for the best ways – which might include innovation, futures, training and comms work - in which we can support India’s leading companies and sustainability advocates to accelerate that change. We’re already working with a couple of Ieading lights, and we hope to do so with many more.
Meanwhile, I’m pondering how best to prepare for chairing a DSDS session on low carbon urban mobility – from the semi-stationery snarl of a Mumbai jam…
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