POSSIBLE FUTURES PROGRAMME ON OCCASION OF WEF ANNUAL MEETING 2023
Therme Group and Impact One presented an iteration of the Possible Futures programme on occasion of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos, Switzerland
Hosted by wellbeing leader Therme Group and its impact investment initiative Impact One, the four-day programme featured multiple high-level discussions, adopting a holistic and multi-industrial perspective to examine how scalable and integrative nature-based solutions can be applied across fields to establish new scenarios of possible futures on our planet.
ThePossible Futures programme at Davos, which expanded on the partners’ extensive programming for COP27, focused on environmental rights, collective responsibility, and nature-integrated infrastructures, explored ways to redesign the anthropogenic impact on ecosystems through existing evidence-based and scalable solutions.
POSSIBLE ENERGY – POSSIBLE CITIES 18.01.2023, Panel Discussion Goals House, Davos, Switzerland
The Possible Energy — Possible Cities panel was held at Goals House in Davos on 18 January, and was divided into two segments, Possible Energy and Possible Cities to evaluate why our environmental efforts and international councils are often unable to move forward in the discussion of abstract objectives and the setting of targets that fail to posit specific solutions that can counter the challenges posed by the climate change crisis.
The panel was initiated by film director Oliver Stone and award-winning scholar of international relations Prof. Joshua Goldstein, who recently premiered the Nuclear Now! documentary, in conversation with Roksana Ciurysek-Gedir, Chairwoman of Impact One and executive producer of the film, and HSBC Chief Sustainability Officer Celine Herweijer, to examine how uncorroborated ideological stances against the use of nuclear energy in our cities are preventing the mitigation of climate change and energy poverty.
The creators of the Nuclear Now! documentary expanded on their motivations behind their creation of the film, introducing it as “a conversation about the possibility of having a better future, in contrast with what we have now.” Nuclear Now! was created to demystify the use of nuclear energy and help us navigate the fearful notions that accompany it, by reflecting on past mistakes and providing scientific evidence of how it might actually be the best alternative we have at the moment to combat the climate change crisis.
“World War Two unfortunately destroyed so much, as it came at the same time as when they were splitting the atom for bomb purposes. Yet the bomb has nothing to do with nuclear energy. This is a mythology that has spread misinformation.” — Oliver Stone
Prof. Joshua Goldstein, a lifelong environmentalist, shared his observations as a past anti-nuclear activist. He spoke about how his perspective on nuclear power eventually changed as he took it upon himself to study the current methods we are employing in our fight against climate change and realising how limited these are long-term on a global scale.
“In the film, we go back to the beginning of Madame Curie and the discovery of radioactivity, all the way through the 1940s 50s 60s, Atoms for Peace under Eisenhower and the path that the world was on to build out a nuclear power economy worldwide. If not for people like me, the environmentalists who were against it, we could have stayed on the path we would have had a decarbonized economy by now.” — Prof. Joshua Goldstein
The second part of the panel, Possible Cities took the Nuclear Now! documentary as a point of departure and invited panellists to examine shortcomings in our fight against climate change. It then proceeded to discuss the wider implementation and scaling of solutions that can be developed only through interdisciplinary dialogue between urban development, infrastructure, science, energy, finance and service industries within our cities. Speakers included:Head of XCarb Innovation Fund at ArcelorMittal Irina Gorbounova, HSBC Chief Sustainability Officer Celine Herweijer, VP of Growth Strategy of wellbeing leader Therme Group Sheikha Al Mheiri. The panel was moderated by Mikolaj Sekutowicz, CEO of Impact One.
Sheikha Al Mheiri opened the panel by speaking about our need to observe our systems of expansion through a nation-specific lens, considering not only politics, but the communities and cultures that have influenced them to history, and what their relationship has been to nature through time. She highlighted the origins of nuclear power as a natural resource, indicating that in order to demystify it, we must first and foremost understand the full force of nature with its many layers and adopt a more profound understanding of what it actually means to us to utilise nuclear energy as a source of fuel.
The speakers examined how we have historically placed more value in the extractive value of nature throughout time, rather than attempting to integrate living nature into our systems, and the conversation hinged on formulating ways to reframe how we can harness nuclear as a natural product and use it to give our future generations a second chance of a homeostatic life on our planet.
Mikołaj Sekutowicz proceeded by underlining how pivotal it is that the finance industry creates the right motivations through investment policies that can direct us towards taking better decisions in the implementation of scalable solutions, stressing how politics are often swayed by public opinion, in contrast to the arithmetic development that financial decisions have. Improved financial motivations can encourage stakeholders with large levels of social responsibility to support the implementation of more efficient solutions if they are promised that the profit will be there.
“The finance industry will need to create the right motivations and investment policies that need to be implemented first to point us towards taking the right decisions. Politics much too often, as the movie shows, become entrapped in public opinion.” — Mikolaj Sekutowicz
Prof. Joshua S. Goldstein agreed by commenting on the challenges that the finance industry has posed on the development of the nuclear industry for years, due to their dependence on traditional large BPO plants, enterprises that operate construction projects at billions of dollars. Taking into consideration the financial risks that governments would be facing in committing to the development of nuclear energy plants, notorious for being highly financially and time costly, in comparison to the low risks observed with hydro, solar and wind energy plants, experts believe in the development of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) that can be built under four years, as catalysts for our transition to fully nuclear-powered, net zero economy.
NUCLEAR NOW! 18.01.2023, Panel Discussion
Location: The Sanctuary, Davos, Switzerland
Oliver Stone, Prof. Joshua S. Goldstein and the producers of Nuclear Now! hosted an event with Impact One and The Filecoin Foundation to celebrate the recently premiered documentary film where they discussed their motivations behind the creation of the film, recounting personal learning experiences, scientific discoveries and inclinations. The panel was moderated by Executive Producer of the film and Chairwoman of Impact One,Roksana Ciurysek-Gedir, and took place at the emblematic Sanctuary – Free Evangelical Church, a key meeting point for World Economic Forum guests.
Still from Nuclear Now! documentary, featuring Oliver Stone
CULTURE AT THE CORE 19.01.2023, Keynote and Panel Discussion Location:Rotary Room, Steigenberger Hotel Belvédère, Davos, Switzerland
On 19 January, Culture at the Core invited a selection of cross-industry experts, Possible Futures also elaborated on the cultural paradigm shift needed to welcome a new era of cultural production that cultivates natural intelligence into infrastructure, technology and community.
New media artist Refik Anadol opened Culture at the Core with a keynote. Anadol represents a new generation of artists that focus on creating art with life rather than dead matter. His emblematic work, using the means of the digital, dives deep into the understanding of natural processes: from neuronal activity to environmental processes. This approach is exemplified by Coral Dreams, the work commissioned for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of 2023 and curated by Joseph Fowler. Refik Anadol’s recent research trip to the territory of the Yawanawa community started a unique collaboration that will explore the very source of our human existence kept alive through Indigenous wisdom.
“During the Impact One trip to the Yawanawa territory, one night whilst looking at the sky, we learned from their leader Nixiwaka that as humanity – even without VR, AI and datasets – we have memories that we physically share in this giant universe. It was a powerful message, going straight to humanity’s heart everywhere.” — Refik Anadol
The keynote was followed by a conversation ushering in a forward-thinking, transdisciplinary approach to global cultural production, in which human genius and culture is guided by the intelligence and wisdom of the natural world, rather than isolated from it. Speakers included new media artist Refik Anadol, Chairwoman of Impact One Roksana Ciurysek-Gedir, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Dreamscape Immersive Ronald Menzel, VP of Global Growth Strategy of Therme Group and CEO Therme Capital Partners Sheikha Al Mheiri, CEO of Therme Group Robert Hanea, Head of Human Insights at To.org Rachael Ferguson, and CEO of Impact One Mikolaj Sekutowicz.
Rachael Ferguson opened the panel on the fundamental importance of culture by discussing her mission at to.org, in facilitating the preservation and revitalisation of culture in communities affected by climate-related and politically-driven displacement. She argued that only through the protection of traditions and cultures, including those of indigenous peoples such as the Yawanawa and Sapara, would we be able to heal the world in its current state.
“It comes down to three main things: providing people with a sense of agency, that they have control over what’s going on in their life; self determination—the Yawanawa, Sapara nations, they need to know that what they care about in their hearts is translated into what happens on a daily basis; and authenticity.” — Rachel Ferguson
The subsequent speakers built upon this notion of the need to centre human activity around cultural understanding. Robert Hanea spoke on the crucial role culture plays in the advancement of technology, in dictating the trajectory of the built environment, and the aim of Therme Group to allow culture to positively and holistically influence infrastructural developments.
Sheikha Al Mheiri expanded on this by illustrating the intrinsic link between culture and the natural world, particularly water, and its evolving role to suit the needs of humanity. Ronald Menzel discussed his intentions with Dreamscape, a series of immersive virtual reality adventures, to create a global culture of experience and connection. Roksana Ciurysek-Gedir spoke of her own experiences in meeting the cultural demands of different industries, ultimately deciding that a transdisciplinary cultural approach was most fulfilling.
“If you want to shape a sense of space, a sense of healing, you need infrastructure that can enable that. So, we built a company that harnesses information points from everything in society, from technology to culture to build that infrastructure.” — Robert Hanea
To conclude our Possible Futures programme, Founder and CEO of Impact One Mikolaj Sekutowicz was invited to participate in a YPO interview series in Davos to expand on the World Economic Forum’s focus on “Cooperation in a Fragmented World.” As a leading global network for business leaders, YPO is dedicated to fostering discussions that help shape the future of our communities, scale trust, and employ new models to tackle geopolitical challenges.
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