The Initiatives of Change conference center in Caux, Switzerland,
celebrating 70 years of trustbuilding
, opened the summer with a special forum on migration. Policy makers, activists, migrants, refugees and concerned citizens joined a conversation on an issue that is rocking governments and communities everywhere. The mayor of Montreux thanked the Caux Foundation for its “commitment to build trust across borders and cultures.” Singer-songwriter Naom Vazana
, who plays piano and trombone at the same time, performed songs from her new album named appropriately “Love Migration.”
At the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security
(CDLS), Ambassador William Swing, an American serving as director general of the International Organization for Migration, urged attendees to change the migration narrative – which has become “toxic” – from a focus on “identity to shared values.” With one in seven people globally in migratory status, this is “the mega-trend of our century.” He reminded his audience that migration is “the world’s oldest poverty reduction strategy.”
Jennifer Helgeson from Maryland, a research economist at the Applied Economics Office at the National Office of Standards and Technology, presented a book she co-edited Land Restoration: Reclaiming a Landscape for a Sustainable Future. As well as discussing policy issues it includes practical examples from several parts of the world.
Luc Gnacadia from Benin, former executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and the initiator of CDLS, highlighted three new lenses that the dialogues have given to the topic of land restoration. First, the crucial role of leadership based on personal change that can be a valuable asset for profitable investment to enhance stability locally and globally. Second, the importance of trustbuilding in situational analysis and decision-making within land restoration. Gnacadja also noted that land users and farmers often do not invest in sustainable land management because they are unable to capture its side socio-economic benefits. Accountability and benefit sharing through just governance make land restoration achievable.
Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, the vice chair of the UN Global Compact, and Lawrence Cockcroft, co-founder of Transparency International,
discussed the question of financial regulation and corruption at the opening of a conference on Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy
. "No sector of society can fix things on their own, but alliances need trust," said Moody-Stuart. In Cockcroft’s view, real progress on corruption will come from “a political groundswell within countries."
Naomie Lucas from the United States, spoke of her grandfather who was a sharecropper. “His home only had an outhouse but it had a prayer room.” He was the first African American to buy a car for cash in North Carolina. Naomi is now the founder and CEO of Southern Wicked Beverages, a highly successful start-up in North Carolina. She cited four moral principles of business from a Harvard study: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness, and compassion. “Is there a difference,” she asked, “between corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility?” When she started her company, the first check she wrote was a tithe to her church.
Many workshops and conversations centered on innovative, inclusive, ecofriendly economic development and social innovation. Merel Rumping, a young entrepreneur from the Netherlands, told how she started a project called Legbank
to design and produce affordable prosthetic limbs in Colombia which has one of the world’s highest rates of amputees due to landmines. Tessa Wernick has created Fairphones
which uses rare earth metals and other materials that support communities, not armed militias, and focuses on product longevity by providing replaceable parts. Ingrid Franzon, Swedish founder of Envirohealth Matters
, has worked with a team to create Toxxscan which reads the barcode on household products and shows a color-coded guide to chemical ingredients.
Of particular interest to US participants were conversations with a delegation from Mexico which included Jaime González Aguadé, president of Mexico’s banking and securities regulatory agency. He said that by 2011, 4.7 million people who receive government transfers had received debit cards and had entered the financial system for the first time. Pedro Langre of the Institute for Centered Growth (ICG) told how ICG is training hundreds of staff in the regulatory agency in ethical leadership, self-knowledge and team leadership. “Culture is stronger than strategy,” he said, "It is the values, mindset and belief system that will govern the direction of an institution." (Photo: Jaime González Aguadéz, Pedro Langre and colleague)
"Economics has a blind spot: it is totally disconnected from culture,” said Ronnie Lessen of Trans4m Centre for Integral Development
. The world needs “integrators.” As humans we are multi-faceted and we need a variety of characters to achieve our goals. “You cannot become an integrator unless you are true to your society, rooted in the soil and true to place.” He and his colleagues described a pilot project aimed at helping Slovenia become a low-carbon, highly integrated inclusive society – a potential model for Europe.
Tony Bradley of Liverpool Hope University picked up a similar theme in discussing “economies of solidarity” and the importance of story and place. In collaboration with his musician daughter, he wrote Liver Birdsong
which premiers in November to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Blitz when Liverpool was heavily bombed during World War II. A second production is under way for members of the community themselves to tell the story of the 1981 Toxteth riots which were sparked in part by tensions between police and the black community. Bradley noted the extent to which “whole local histories have been obliterated” by market forces. Birdsong Live Productions
is a vehicle for communities to tell their own under-reported stories.