Tina Pastore

Are your #SDGs looking glass half-full? Or half-empty?


It is that end-of-the-year time to take stock. Global GoalsCast doesn’t judge whether you’ve been naughty or nice. But co-hosts Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman do take a look at the world in 2019 and ask whether it is still getting better, or going to hell in a handbasket, as Edie so delicately framed it. She cites the failure of the climate talks and the rise of nationalism everywhere from the UK to Brazil. Things are not as bad as they seem, Claudia replies. In fact, the replenishment of the Global Fund to fight Malaria, Tuberculosis, and Aids shows that collective multilateral action is still possible. The world seems to be going in two directions at once, Edie and Claudia agree.

 To help sort things out Gillian Tett, founder of Moral Money at the Financial Times, joins the conversation. Some governments are dragging their feet, including the United States, Tett says. But Tett adds, “this was the year that business really stepped up.” The SDGs are a valuable checklist for business, she explains, and virtually every CEO she talks to wants to discuss the environment, corporate governance, and sustainability. This episode also features a special look back on some of the top Global GoalsCast conversations of the year, on everything from curbing global warming and eradicating poverty, to educating girls and aiding migrants.

 There is also a special Facts and Actions this episode, drawn from some of the best recommendations throughout the year.

 Laurie MacKenzie from our sponsor, Mastercard, describes how women and their families benefit from Mastercard’s digital pay project. “by educating and enabling these women they pass it on to their children and therefore that next generation grows up with a greater set of rights and education and aspirations.”

Image Credits: United Nations 

Featured guests

Gillian Tett

Gillian Tett serves as US managing editor, leading the Financial Times’ editorial operations in the region across all platforms. She writes weekly columns for the Financial Times, covering a range of economic, financial, political and social issues throughout the globe. 

Tett’s past roles at the FT have included US managing editor (2010-2012), assistant editor, capital markets editor, deputy editor of the Lex column, Tokyo bureau chief, and a reporter in Russia and Brussels. 

Most recently in 2016, Tett received honorary degrees from the University of Exeter in July and the University of Miami in May. In 2015, Tett was given an honorary doctorate from Lancaster University in the UK, one of the top ten British universities. In 2014, she was named Columnist of the Year in the British Press Awards and was the first recipient of the Royal Anthropological Institute Marsh Award. Her other honors include a SABEW Award for best feature article (2012), President’s Medal by the British Academy (2011), being recognized as Journalist of the Year (2009) and Business Journalist of the Year (2008) by the British Press Awards, and as Senior Financial Journalist of the Year (2007) by the Wincott Awards. In June 2009 her book Fool’s Gold won Financial Book of the Year at the inaugural Spear’s Book Awards. 

Tett’s latest book The Silo Effect, published by Simon & Schuster in September 2015, looks at the global economy and financial system through the lens of cultural anthropology.

Dr. Narasimha D. Rao

Dr. Narasimha D. Rao is an Asst Professor of Energy Systems at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He also is a Senior Research Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria. Dr. Rao’s research examines energy transitions, climate change and economic and resource inequality. He is particularly interested in how climate change and mitigation policies impact poverty around the world. He is a contributing author to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, and the recipient of the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant for a project entitled Decent Living Energy – which examines the energy needs and climate impacts of poverty eradication in select emerging economies. He received his PhD from Stanford University in Environment and Resources, and has two Masters from MIT in Technology Policy and Electrical Engineering.

Laura MacKenzie

As Senior Vice President of Global Prepaid for Mastercard, Laura is responsible for developing, executing, leading and adapting the global product strategy for Mastercard’s core prepaid products. In addition, she is responsible for driving product solutions to deliver Mastercard’s commitment to the World Bank to include 500 million people into the formal economy by 2020 through the development and deployment of innovative products and delivery channels.

Prior to this role, she spent 12 years leading Mastercard’s US Merchant acceptance for core merchant verticals. Mackenzie began her career in fashion with luxury global brands Ralph Lauren, Ann Klein and Nicole Farhi before making a move into the financial realm with South African start up joint venture e-commerce companies. She has spent many years living and working overseas in London, Barcelona and Johannesburg.

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of

Special thank you to:


Gillian Tett: 00:02 This was a year that business really stepped up to the plate and said they were going to get involved. I have never seen a situation where almost every single CEO and C-suite member I have met wants to talk to some degree about environmental social governance issues.

Edie Lush: 00:19 We do know that the 2020s are going to be absolutely critical. The UN science consensus has said that emissions have to start coming down and fast right now by 7% a year. Last year they went up.

Gillian Tett: 00:31 Unfortunately, we’ve seen some governments come out and show that they’re dragging their feet like the American government and we haven’t seen a clear cut consensus amongst the leaders to act on a political sense

Speaker 2: 00:43 In this work today. What is required for just the most basic needs for people that it’s probably not the bulk of the energy needs that’d we consumed. More of the energy we consume is actually serving consumption that potentially could be reduced quite significantly without reducing human wellbeing.

Claudia Edelman: 01:02 The world is indeed going into two directions and I’ve heard that from a lot of people that are looking at 2019 as a mixed bag.

Claudia Edelman: 01:18 Welcome to the Global Goalscast!

Edie Lush: 01:20 The podcast that explores how we can change the world.

Claudia Edelman: 01:24 This episode, we take a final look at 2019 and I look forward to the decade of the 2020s.

Edie Lush: 01:31 That’s right. This is our holidays special! Do you hear the jingle bells? We are going to hear some of our favorite moments from Global Goalscast this year, including the most interesting facts and actions our partners have offered you.

Claudia Edelman: 01:46 Yes, and for that reason, I brought my very special voice, my sexy voice for this episode. So in this episode we’ll ask the question that I know the answer to. Is the world getting better.

Edie Lush: 01:59 Or like your voice? Is it going to hell in a hand basket. or maybe a bit of both?

New Speaker: 02:05 Not in reality. Edie. That is complicated because even if you’re like a super optimist like me, there are days when it doesn’t feel that good. Actually it might feel bad. So to help us think about the year 2019 and about the years to come, we will have a very special guest. One of our very favorite visitors here at the Global Goalscast. We will tell you who that is and crack open our holiday cheer right after this…

Sponsors: 02:35 This episode of Global Goalscast is brought to you by MasterCard. MasterCard is dedicated to building an inclusive world in which the digital economy works for everyone everywhere. By educating and enabling these women, they pass it on to their children and therefore that next generation grows up with a greater set of rights and education aspirations. Later in this episode, you’ll hear how MasterCard’s digital wage project is helping women and their families. Thanks also to CBS News Digital and Universal Production Music and to Harmon, the official sound of Global Goalscast.

Claudia Edelman: 03:21 Welcome back. I’m Claudia Romo Edelman in my new sexy voice.

Edie Lush: 03:26 And I am Edie Lush and later drum roll. We’re going to have a very special guest. It’s going to be Gillian Tett from the Financial Times.

Claudia Edelman: 03:36 It’s such a joy to have Gillian with us. We don’t really think of Gillian as a guest. More like family.

Edie Lush: 03:43 Yeah, because moral money was, she launched this year for the FT. Seems mostly simpatico to the work that we’re doing here. It’s kind of like Global Goalscast, but with charts…

Claudia Edelman: 03:54 And in pink. And so 2019 has been quite a year I would say. Edie, we’re going to break it down for you and give your end of year forecast for where the world is headed on. Spoiler alert, I do not think that things are nearly as bad as they seem. We are not going to hell in a hand basket, Edie!

Edie Lush: 04:13 What about being on the highway to hell? I’m actually tempted to get you to sing that for me, but maybe with your throat the way it is. I’m not going to, but the failure of the climate talk did not inspire hope for me sitting here in London, so we’re going to wrestle with all that and a lot more. But what kind of year was 2019 here at global goals cast, have a listen to some of our high points.

Greta Thurnberg: 04:46 How dare you have stolen my dreams, my childhood with your empty words.

Paul Polman: 04:55 But at the end of the day, it’s not about solving climate change. At the end of the day, it’s giving a decent life to everybody on this planet earth.

Speaker 8: 05:05 The world’s human population is a subject that was at the forefront 30 40 years ago when many people said it’s the biggest problem for the world. Since then we’ve learned, no, it’s not the biggest problem for the world. What counts is not the raw number of people. What counts is their total consumption rate. It’s becoming increasingly impossible to have a stable world with big differences in standards of living around the world and the only stable outcome. It’s going to be a world with much more equal standards of living around them.

Speaker 7: 05:38 What time to set up our library and we asked the children to draw a computer and they could not even fathom what a computer was.

New Speaker: 05:45 As long as you have access to connectivity and now we’re seeing more and more conductivity in the developing world, it is possible to actually access lots of computing power as long as you can pay for it. Lots of storage, more data, and in fact these software tools that allow you to do machine learning and do AI.

Claudia Edelman: 06:01 One of the big red flags that I have is how AI particularly could accentuate exclusion.

New Speaker: 06:09 This is the thing that worries me most, which is that we’d get a set of policy and guidance developed by a bunch of white men in Silicon Valley that tries to speak to the world.

Edie Lush: 06:18 I think Micheal Chui called them male and pale.

New Speaker: 06:20 There you go, I’ll steal that. But that same technology is something that we’re using to detect schools. We can pull a school out of a satellite image, for example, in Liberia where we can see through machine learning where schools are and that lets us understand where to send equipment, supplies, material and teachers in a way that we wouldn’t if we didn’t have that data.

Speaker 10: 06:40 So for the first time this year, we got to celebrate international day of the gal with them and we give some computers and visceral coding lessons and getting to see that they have not put themselves in this tiny box that the world puts the mean that dreams are quite big. It’s very inspiring.

New Speaker: 06:59 It doesn’t matter that I’m a refugee, that is only a status, but it’s never written on my face. Never written anything of mine is never going to examine my destiny because I’m going to write my destiny. I’ll write my own story.

New Speaker: 07:10 Invest in these girls to see them differently. Not just an object of government, but see them as women who can actually do something with their life and give them jobs and skills and give them their ability back.

Speaker 10: 07:22 If you use the term global feminism, you understand feminism all around the world. It is not only from a Western perspective, you know that the facts are so outrageous, so extreme. The disempowerment is so extreme.

Ibrahim Conde: 07:42 The world doesn’t understand that we move because of reasons that we can’t handle and people tend to follow what the media tells about migrants and refugees are seen as people that’s come in to steal jobs, criminals, and so as a result, no one knows what our actual stories are. The stories of migrants in Africa, I think should be told more.

New Speaker: 08:05 With a place of open. I’m also providing training, showing some youth that… That are interested in computers and computer sciences. I see myself as a peacemaker and they dream of a place where we are able to, to live free of children going into um, groups like the way I did.

Speaker 2: 08:30 I always see it as a joke that in the DRC when you take your tomato, you wash your tomato you throw the water, you come a month after you have a tomato plant. But it is true. It’s not a joke. If a man is brought to the conflict, I would be ready to go back to DRC in a few years time. Not to be distributing food, but to be buying food from the DRC.

Speaker 13: 09:02 The world has exist 45 million centuries. But this is really the first century when one species, the human species can determine the planet fate. We use more resources and we are having a heavy footprint which is affecting the biosphere and affecting the climate.

New Speaker: 09:21 You developed countries, you created this problem, you have to cut your emissions. We developing nations, you cannot tell us that we can’t do what you did. And I showed them that under that scenario, Shanghai would be almost certainly inundated. Shenzhen would be inundated and at that point I said, so what does this mean? And what I heard translated in my earpiece was we have to leave the past in the past.

Paul Polman: 09:54 You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I think what we’re really seeing and as well to as many people are dreaming for a better wealth than we have currently.

Valerie Keller: 10:02 you want to change the trajectory of kind of the collective behavior, sometimes you can actually just shift by the murmuring of a few birds, right? To start to fog starts to move in a different direction.

Speaker 1: 10:10 Sure. If you wanted to go fast, go alone. If you wanted to go far, go together.

Edie Lush: 10:16 Jonathan Franzen just the other day said, we should just give up. It’s over.

New Speaker: 10:20 If you believe as he does that it’s too late, that people are never going to learn to cooperate. You are going to get to be right because you’re not going to do a darn thing about it. And so do you want to be right or do you want to make a difference? It’s time to fight. This is not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it. [Transition Music]

Claudia Edelman: 10:46 Wow! That brought back a lot of memories, Edie.

Edie Lush: 10:49 Right? So good.

Claudia Edelman: 10:50 13 episodes, 14 with this one, our audio genius Simon James was there for every one of them and created that amazing review, that nostalgia. That was amazing.

Edie Lush: 11:03 Right.

Claudia Edelman: 11:04 All right, let’s start analyzing the year. Let’s start with global political landscape.

New Speaker: 11:09 So I felt like we were moving in two directions at once in 2019 it’s a little bit like that finger game. I don’t know if it’s Mexican or Chinese. I used to buy them when I went to Tijuana. Like you put your fingers in and then you both pull, yeah, they’re Mexican. They’re called atrapanovios, which is basically like a boyfriend catcher.

Edie Lush: 11:29 Oh my god.

Claudia Edelman: 11:30 It’s meant to be a toy for girls. So you put it on the finger of the boy you like and then you pull and there is no way he can skate until he gives in.

Edie Lush: 11:39 So what do you think about my analogy? Is that the right one?

Claudia Edelman: 11:42 Well, I think that the world is indeed going into two directions and I’ve heard that from a lot of people that are looking at 2019 as a mixed bag. On the one hand, there’s never been more wealth, more health, more people living in decent lives, eliminating extreme poverty. As a former secretary general, my former boss, Ban Ki-Moon said we are the first generation that can eradicate extreme poverty and that is amazing.

Edie Lush: 12:11 And at the same time, pulling the other way there is spreading discontent. We’re seeing rising political movements in the middle East, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon.

Claudia Edelman: 12:19 You almost moved to the middle East, right?

Edie Lush: 12:23 I’ve been there several times and we’ve also seen a new nationalism or even nativism infecting places like the US China, Brazil, India, Eastern Europe, and of course Russia. Hard to call it new there. I live in the UK and we just had yet another election. And I would argue that the union of the United Kingdom is the biggest loser at this last election because nationalism has risen in every country including Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Claudia Edelman: 12:51 And I don’t think that this is going to stop. All signs are saying that these will continue worsening and I do think that that sense of, I don’t believe that the system is working and particularly governments are inefficient and unethical is going to probably hurt multi-lateralism massively.

Edie Lush: 13:13 And we saw the failure of multi-lateralism of course, this last weekend at Cop-25 in Madrid, but we are the optimists and we have to remind ourselves that multi-lateralism isn’t dead. Even at this time of isolationism, there was a massive multi-lateral victory that many people, including me in fact missed. I didn’t realize until I read Mark Suzman of the Gates foundation who wrote an article the other day where he said the biggest news no one paid any attention to was the replenishment of the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. In October, the global fund secured $14 billion of new funding.

Claudia Edelman: 13:54 YooHoo!

New Speaker: 13:54 Remember Sue Desmond Hellman earlier this year,

Sue Hellman: 13:58 it literally is impossible for me to overstate how much global fund and Gavi have contributed to everything we celebrate in global health. I’ll give you just one fact. Since 1990 under five mortality has been cut in half. It is not at all an overstatement to say, if not for the global fund for AIDS, TB, and malaria, and Gavi for vaccines for the poorest children of the world. The world would have never seen that kind of gains.

Claudia Edelman: 14:28 Yes, yes. This shows how important political will is, I Edie as you might recall, I was part of two replenishments when I was working for the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. And I tell you the newest one really was carried by president Macron in a way that he put his political will behind it. He made sure that France was pushing harder, raises money. He brought, you know, like Europe, he brought his political world everywhere. Governments, philanthropists, business got together in Leon. Perhaps that’s the new multi-lateralism.

Claudia Edelman: 15:10 So we start here because the greatest challenge to achieving the global goals is not technological or even economic. It’s political. We have the resources and the tools to do most of what’s needed and yet we aren’t doing it.

Edie Lush: 15:23 So we need our smartest thinking caps to help sort us out, which is why we’ve invited Gillian Tett back and it’s not just for the very special studio eggnog.

Claudia Edelman: 15:33 Well, here in the studio we have the Mexican Ponche with rum that Gillian and I will start enjoying as soon as we are out of there. So Gillian, what’s your take on political landscape? 2019.

Gillian Tett: 15:45 Well, I’ll take any kind of alcohol and studio these days. I think we need it because there’s been plenty of depressing stuff in the last year. Unfortunately. We’ve seen some governments come out and show that they’re dragging their feet like the American government and we haven’t seen a clear cut consensus amongst the leaders to act on a political sense. However, this was the year that business really stepped up to the plate and said they were going to get involved with an extraordinary number of commitments and involvement from corporate leaders and financial sector leaders. And that’s really potentially going to be a game changer. Whether that turns into action after the brave words remains to be seen and that’s going to be a key theme for 2020 but what is encouraging is that even if governments have prevaricated or become split . Business have become much more unified, a much more proactive. And do you think that they are ready? Well, mobilizing business in my view requires really a sort of four-part strategy. First, they have to wake up and recognize that they actually have a duty to the wider world other than just the shareholders. And that has definitely happened this year. If you look at things like the business round table and the statement they made about stakeholder purpose or stakeholder commitments, that’s very significant.

Gillian Tett: 17:02 Secondly, business has to have a framework to talk about what kind of action it could or should take. And I must say I think the sustainable development goals have been an extraordinarily successful tool that many businesses have used to really frame that discussion that you can criticize the SDGs of being too cumbersome and complex, but for business it provides a wonderful checklist to talk to each other with. Thirdly, they have to start actually putting their money where their mouth is in relation to the SDGs and actually doing things and we’re starting to see that action. There’s a lot of impediments where they are at least starting to move, but fourthly, business has to recognize the limits of their ability and that means they need to be very clear about what the policy sector has to do rather than them and also where there are areas that actually a better performed by NGOs rather than profit-seeking enterprises. Again, I think there is action on that front, but getting the three legs of that stool to work together, the government, the NGOs and business is going to be another key theme for 2020

Edie Lush: 18:11 Before we go any further, let’s take a quick break to hear another story from our sponsor MasterCard on how they are making the digital economy work for everyone.

Sponsors: 18:24 I know that women are important to MasterCard. I’ve spoken to so many of the amazing women that work for MasterCard. I wonder in your words why it’s important that you and MasterCard helped to benefit women. Women, especially in emerging markets are significantly more at risk than their male counterparts. They’re especially more at risk when they’re paid in cash wages. They have less control of it. They’re at greater risk of being pickpocketed. They can be mugged on their way home. In these factory towns, everybody knows which Friday is pay day. They know exactly the journey that people are taking. Some of these women travel by bus or train or walk for hours to get to work in some countries. It’s also common, as I’ve said earlier, for women to just hand over their wages to the men in their lives, but we’ve allowed them and we’re helping them with careful training on how to talk to their families about digital wages. We’ve also seen a dynamic shift in some households in which those women get more of a say in how the home finances are managed. And we also know that because women are so focused on their children and the next generation by educating and enabling these women, they pass it on to their children and therefore that next generation grows up with a greater set of rights and education and aspirations. [Transition Music] Smallholder farmers around the globe are equally, uh, in emerging markets, generally still in cash based ecosystems. So we have partnered as we’ve done in the garment sector with large commodities players and are working with them to digitize payments out to small holder coffee farmers in places like Chiapas, Mexico and outside of Bogota, Columbia. And we’re also now looking to Western Africa. So to take the cash operations out of the supply chain for small holder farmers in fact allows them to reap a more full value for their cash crop as it goes to market than they are when they have to stop through middlemen along the way. [inaudible]

Edie Lush: 20:48 Thanks to Laura McKinsey from our sponsor, MasterCard. Now back to our end of year review.

Claudia Edelman: 20:57 So the second thing that we want to discuss about 2019 is inequality. Inequality. That seems to be the most important driving force for anger and for this trust and for fear. We see not only the widen gap on money, but it’s also access to technology and to education. So inequality has to be addressed. Inequality is bringing people to wonder, is this system working for me? Is capitalism really gonna ever be helpful? Is globalization ever gonna touch my wallet? And my home is democracy really a system that would allow me to thrive? The.

Edie Lush: 21:36 UNDP Claudia said very much the same thing just the other day. Inequality is the force driving social discontent. In fact, Achim Steiner said,

Achim Steiner: 21:46 What was one sufficient then need to measure per capita income is simply no longer adequate in capturing inequality in the 21st century. The capabilities approach, the kind of educational opportunities we have, the families we are born into. All this begins to define our life’s journey. And as we look towards addressing the increasing tensions around inequality and development choices and outcomes, you also need to move beyond averages. Simply having a per capita GDP measurement tool is not adequate and we have to move beyond today because the advent of new technologies, the threat of climate change are also emerging as major drivers of inequality in the 21st century…

Claudia Edelman: 22:25 Which is fascinating Edie because the sustainable development goals, the SDGs created a broad definition of equality five years ago and it was not just wealth or income but clean water, electric power, education for boys and girls and responsible consumption. The way that Jared Diamond told us earlier this year,

Jared Diamond: 22:46 Consumption rates meaning consumption rates of water, fuel and other resource and metals in the developed world on the average about 32 times those in the poorest countries and that means that one American citizen has the impact of the world. 32 Kenyans. I mentioned specifically Kenyans because there are many Americans who feel indignant and concerned about the growing population of Africa and yes, it’s a tragedy for Africa, but as far as the impact on the world is concerned, 50 million Kenyans are equivalent to 1.7 million Americans can is trivial for its impact on the world,

Edie Lush: 23:30 The ultimate inequality. That goes to the heart of what I was talking about with professor Narasimha Rao.

Claudia Edelman: 23:36 He’s so cool. He’s the professor of energy system, right?

Edie Lush: 23:39 Yeah. At my Alma mater, Yale university, he’s been looking at how much energy it will take to lift the remaining 700 million extremely poor people, including those 14 million Kenyans living on less than a dollar 90 a day. His answer is encouraging.

Narasimha Rao: 23:57 What we found in general in principle is that the needs of poverty eradication are relatively small compared to the total energy demand in these countries. Even in a country like India where 15 to 80% of people lack any of these dimensions of decent living standards, which indicates that the bulk of energy use today is really serving more the affluence in the middle class services such as driving in automobiles and flying and more kind of conspicuous luxury consumption, but not so much meeting basic needs. And this is increasingly the case as you move towards middle income countries like Brazil and South Africa. And so that provides more evidence that in this world today what is required for just the most basic needs for people. That is probably not the bulk of the energy needs that be consumed at more of the energy we consume is actually serving consumption that potentially could be reduced quite significantly without reducing human wellbeing.

Edie Lush: 24:57 And he echoes Diamond’s point that as we become more affluent, we become more wasteful.

Narasimha Rao: 25:03 Material resources are serving a lot of nod materials needs such as social status, acceptance in society, and we need to move away from that because that’s reflects a certain amount of resource use and environment and degradation that is not really necessary for people to flourish.

Edie Lush: 25:23 Gillian, can we have a world that’s more equal that uses less carbon?

Gillian Tett: 25:28 Well, that is one of the big questions right now because as a tremendous contradictional irony in this whole inequality debate, on the one hand groups inside Western countries are talking a lot about inequality and that’s driving populism, but of course the level of inequality between countries have actually been shrinking in the last decade, which is actually good news overall. Now in theory that would imply that a lot of the emerging market in developing countries should feel less angry about being asked to do some heavy lifting and when it comes to climate change in practice, however many of them are arguing quite correctly that it seems somewhat unfair for the developing world to lecture them about the need to potentially curb missions and maybe hurt that growth while the developed world has had already had the benefits of developing on the back of a lot of carbon emissions. So that’s going to be very tough in the next year ahead. But perhaps there’s another thing to think about which is the idea of reverse innovation because what was thought and to see is a wave of innovation in the emerging markets in relation to climate change and other big social challenges where are taking out small innovative ideas, which are often very, very cheap because they have to be developed for poor countries, which sometimes actually leapfrog some of the big expensive ideas being developed in the West. And increasingly we’re starting to see trickle back where ideas developed in an emerging markets come into the West and start to solve some of the climate change problems or at least deal with some of the issues, even though they’ve come out of poorer economies and tougher conditions.

Paul Polman: 27:15 At the end of the day, it’s not about solving climate change. At the end of the day, it’s giving a decent life to everybody on this planet earth.

Edie Lush: 27:23 That was Paul Polman from our episode about his new firm. Imagine. But of course we do need to avert global warming. So Claudia, tell me a little about when you were at the UN in 2015 and how the SDGs and the climate agenda came together.

Claudia Edelman: 27:39 Well, they were separate animals. So there were the sustainable development goals that took forever to be created five years. And you know the consensus of 193 countries getting to agree on those 17 goals. And meanwhile you had the Paris Accords that were signed and getting ready and there was a realization that one couldn’t exist without the other and they were put together under the 2030 agenda for sustainable development goals and climate change. And that’s why there was so much debate about whether to call this the 2030 agenda of the or the SDGs. But now that they came together, climate is not only part of it, it’s just that as a center of it, um, it is urgent and that’s why the discussions of the COP are so disappointing.

New Speaker: 28:25 Either we stopped this eviction to go all our efforts to tackle climate change will be doomed.

Claudia Edelman: 28:32 People had the expectation that action was going to take place and that you will going to see the decision makers taking decisive actions towards climate change. And I do think that there’s a consensus that there was a disappointment, but like the discussions of decision makers which by the way actually emphasizes even more the point that we have about like governments are failing the expectations of people.

Edie Lush: 28:57 Yeah. And I’d say that to say it was a disappointment is like the biggest understatement of the year because we do know that the 2020s are going to be absolutely critical. The UN science consensus has said that emissions have to start coming down fast right now by 7% a year. Last year they went up. So is that even possible when we can’t get governments to agree on what to do?

Gillian Tett: 29:21 It was indeed a big disappointment because of those ever time that we need to get the world on board and all the political leaders on board together to tackle climate change. It really is now if you’re looking for silver lining, so there are two silver linings. Firstly, the very fact that the governments have not pulled together at cohesively might just… Might spur more consumer protest and action and more pressure on companies to try and push for meaningful change and if so, that would be good. Second, possible silver lining is that the US has obviously been a difficult stumbling block in the whole process of getting major governments on board. However, one big theme I’m going to be looking out for in 2020 is to see whether the Republican party starts to change its language or mood music on climate change at all because although Donald Trump has very clearly said he’s not interested in talking about climate change, the reality is actually a growing number of senior Republicans who are pretty concerned and they won’t use the word climate change because that’s such political dynamite and the US. Landscape right now. However, if you start hearing phrases like environmental protection Conservancy, energy self-sufficiency, pollution being tossed around a lot, that’s a sign that actually the tone is starting to change. Even if the word climate change is still taboo.

Edie Lush: 30:48 I remember when I was in Paris for COP-21 it was really the French leadership that along with Christiana Figueres who really steered such a successful COP. These thoughts from the news that I read. I wonder if you got a sense of what it was that went wrong this time round.

Gillian Tett: 31:08 There wasn’t really clear cut leadership unfortunately and there really is a growing divergence in the goals and the degree to which people think hitting those goals is realistic or not sadly

Claudia Edelman: 31:24 The fourth topic that we wanted to pick, which probably is at the heart and the soul of what we are here at the Global Goalscast, which is the growing movement for change and this is how we want to look ahead and look at businesses coming on board and jumping into the bridge of purpose and sustainability. I think that that’s a great thing that happened is 2019 which is a great movement for change.

Gillian Tett: 31:51 Well, I would say if you’re looking for signs of change, firstly in the course of the last year I’ve spoken to masses of CEOs because that’s kind of what I’m paid to do in my job at the financial times and I’ve been doing that for years. I have never seen a situation where almost every single CEO and C-suite member I have met, wants to talk to some degree about environmental, social and governance issues. Never seen that before. Now the sign of change is that we at the financial times launched something called moral money, this newsletter and platform. Whew, that’s going gangbusters. I mean, you know, it’s got the highest open rate of any newsletter we’ve launched because our readers are really, really interested in this kind of content, which going to be pretty hard to imagine a year or two ago and lost tiny vignette is that Brussels recently issued a hefty roadmap for green finance, but it’s also issued a very big taxonomy of how you define green bonds and green products, although the rest of the world, particularly America, use toa shrug when Brussels did things and say, Oh, let’s just ignore what Brussels is doing.

Gillian Tett: 33:03 Increasingly I’m hearing people say this could end up being like the GDPR, the green world. And by that I mean Brussels came out a couple of years ago and drew up these very tight regulations for the tech sector and social media platforms, which initially only applied in Europe and people kind of ignored outside Europe, but actually then ends up setting the standards globally and affecting any company with a global operation. So what Brussell’s doing in the world of green right now could end up again having a real impact in the next year and how American companies and other companies and financial group think about green issues and essentially raise the standards in ways that people weren’t expecting.

Edie Lush: 33:43 I was amazed to see that Europe actually pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050 now that was the news that came out last week ahead of the rather disappointing COP. Gillian, I wonder if you can talk me through something that I think is going to be an emerging issue next year, which is this idea of what’s the role of central banks in climate change? We now know that Mark Carney is the Secretary General’s advocate, an Emissary on climate change, but there’s a real argument or debate or discussion starting about what the role is. Yes, climate risks should be looked at by central banks, but should central banks have their mission creep into shifting capital away from polluters towards greener companies? So those are the corporate bonds that they hold. I wonder if you have a view on that.

Gillian Tett: 34:35 Well, I certainly do have a view because it’s going to be one of the hot potatoes of 2020 a bit of background Mark Carney, the governor, the bank of England set up this group known as network for greening the financial system. No prize for snappy memorable name.

Claudia Edelman: 34:50 La papa caliente!

Gillian Tett: 34:54 Exactly. But anyway, at the end GFS was set up between the bank of England, bank of France and the central bank of China. Interestingly enough, about two or three years ago, and initially they just had six members. They’ve now got three dozen members. Almost every central bank in the advanced economies has joined with a notable exception of Russia. And guess what? The United States, yes, grown. Although the U S actually may end up joining, although the Federal Reserve hasn’t joined. The San Francisco Fed is a advisory member and I wouldn’t be surprised if the US Fed doesn’t join soon as well. But anyway, they all looking at what they can do with green. And the best way to understand this is to use as a three parts schema. I often use with moral money, our platform at the FT, which is the recognize that there are three incentives driving finance and business in this respect. Some companies want to actively change the world, some want to do no harm to the world and some want to do no harm to themselves. And central banks certainly want to do no harm to themselves and they want to do no harm to the financial systems they oversee. And in that respect they want to make sure that they are properly measuring the climate risk threats to banks and insurance companies, asset portfolios. So that’s very important and that’s what they’re definitely stepping up and everyone agrees they have to do that and they also have to look at their own portfolios. Second thing is doing no harm to the world, I. E. not backing ventures and enterprises, which are obviously dangerous and risky and damaging and there’s a bit more controversy around that. But most central banks these days think they probably shouldn’t be buying, say, coal mine bonds or something like that that are actively going to harm the environment. The really controversial part is about actively trying to change the world. And there’s actually a lot of unease in central bank circles about the idea that central banks actively trying to finance say renewable energies or anything which has a wider social environmental purpose as a proactive direct goal because that’s seen as meddling too much in politics.

Edie Lush: 37:09 Now I want to get you guys to give me your predictions. Will 2020 be the year we see movement to achieve the SDGs coalescing in a way that makes success likely or are the forces of delay, fragmentation and short term profit too powerful. Claudia, what do you think?

Claudia Edelman: 37:26 I actually think that 2020 will be the year in which a lot of the voice, a lot of the tagline will be about action. So it will be the decade of action coming from the coalition of, you know, like the United Nations and partners. But also I think that young people are tired of listening to stuff without saying action. So I think that CEOs, ideally we’ll be talking more about the actions that they’re doing just about talking the talk. My second prediction about 2020 is that inclusion will become bigger. I think that I’ve seen it now with diversity and inclusion and overall the world being browner, more feminine with a bigger heart and so inclusive environment will become more important. Companies will have to manage expectations about what they can and they cannot do.

Edie Lush: 38:16 Gillian, what about you? What’s your prediction for 2020?

Gillian Tett: 38:19 Well, here are three things to watch. Firstly, accountants will become increasingly important and yes, I know the activists and you know philanthropists and people who work at the UN tend to go, Oh my goodness, may accounting how boring. But we’re starting to see the breed of warrior accountant who are trying to force companies and investment groups to actually measure the impact of climate change on portfolios. And that really matters because once that becomes revealed, there’s more pressure on companies to act. Secondly, I think we’re going to see the Japanese Olympics 2020 Olympics. See Japan play a growing leadership role in trying to push forward the SDGs on the global stage and put a lot of pressure on companies to actually do things. Some of it will be greenwashing, but I do think we’re going to see a lot more action there. And thirdly, I think pressure on the investment managers and the investment companies is going to keep rising because there is a new generation of wealthy millennials who have money and who are demanding that wall street names in Switzerland and London actually take action and it’d be lovely to think that it’s kind of mass market common people who drive change in financial products. In reality, it’s the ritual, the super rich who drive a lot of the change and they’ve fact is their starting to move.

Claudia Edelman: 39:37 Wow. Edie, I love that. Imagine that if you’re like a Japanese accountant. Wow, that’s the young japanese accountant[laughter]. Edie, what about you?

Edie Lush: 39:46 So my prediction is that the argument over climate action is going to become stronger ahead of now. Yet again, prime minister Boris Johnson is hosting COP-26 in Glasgow in Scotland. I think we’re going to see more cities, more businesses and more coalitions emerging to tackle climate change. I think we need amazing minds and courageous hearts to be tackling these issues and I think it’s going to be a very challenging year for those who care.

Gillian Tett: 40:14 Since I have the british accent, I will jump in quickly and speak about Boris Johnson and the UK because there is a lot to be depressed right now about the UK. However, it so happens that green issues is one area where there really is a chink blight because the UK is already actually done a lot of very encouraging things about building public-private partnerships. And so against the odds, this really could be a chance for the UK to show to use the great British what it’s made of.

Claudia Edelman: 40:43 and so last words, 2020 optimistic, pessimistic, mixed?

Gillian Tett: 40:49 Gotta be optimistic because we’re the start of a new decade and if we’re not optimistic then when can you be?

Claudia Edelman: 40:54 There you go. Closing with Brexit. I love that Edie?

Edie Lush: 40:57 You can’t be an optimist. Why get up in the morning?

Claudia Edelman: 40:59 Wow, I love it. Honestly, after COP-25 and after Brexit, having two brave minds here saying that they are optimistic me for I would change. I’m mixed for 2020 and I do think that is going to be the year of Latinos. I’m super optimistic about the year of Hispanics here in the US but overall I really want to see government stepping up, being more efficient on businesses, getting more ethics, more moral, as you said, but I just don’t want to have like the break of a honeymoon with businesses too early because if they cannot manage the expectations of what people have, then is going to be a hard year.

Edie Lush: 41:38 Okay. Now it’s time for our year end special. Best of facts and actions from 2019 first three facts from Aron Cramer of BSR, Saskia Brusyen of Yunis social business and Robyn Scott of Apolitical,

Aron Cramer: 41:56 We’ve heard from the UN that the world needs to reduce emissions 7.6% per year during the 2020s in order to keep warming below 1.5 degrees. That is an urgent call to action.

Saskia Bruysten: 42:11 My second fact is that last year, 26 individuals on the same amount of money as 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. Despite the fact that extreme poverty has been going down, inequality has still been rising. Billionaires now have more wealth than ever before. While only 5% of all new income generated from the global growth trickles down to the poorest 60%

Robyn Scott: 42:45 In a world where jobs are increasingly being lost to automation, the international labor organization estimates that the green economy could create 24 million jobs by 2030 and now three actions from Chris Fabian of UNICEF innovation, Mohamed Yahya of UNDP and Mathias Devi of UNICEF.

Chris Fabian: 43:06 First of all, please, if you haven’t signed up for Finland’s online course on artificial intelligence, it’s called Elements of AI and you can find it through a quick Google search.

Mohamed Yahya: 43:15 Support the transformation of Africa, not through aid only, but through trade and other aspects of the relationship between Africa and Europe has to be one of mutual beneficial system. Structurally transforming Africa is one of the things that will then allow young people to want to stay in their own countries. At least give them that option,

Mathias Devi: 43:39 Support youth to speak up and hear them. Whatever you’re working on, whatever you’re designing, whatever you’re promoting. Remember that 1.8 billion people in your potential audience are children and youth and the 90% of these live in developing countries. This group has lots to say and listening can both improve your work and their lives massively.

Edie Lush: 44:01 Thank you to all our partners that have shared facts and actions in 2019 and thank you to Gillian for joining us and all our guests who shared their insights and stories with us this year

Claudia Edelman: 44:17 And thanks to you.. to you our dear listener. Thank you for listening. Please like and subscribe us via ideas or whatever you get your podcast from and follow us on social media @Globalgoalscast and a very personal special thanks to the wonderful team of Global Goalscast that has made this an incredible second year that we have from our editorial guru, Michael Oreske to Charles the Portobello to Simon James and Edie Lush and Tina and Michelle and everybody that is supporting us all around the world. Thank you. Thank you so much for this wonderful team. When you have a wonderful team, you produce wonderful things. Thank you for being with us this year. See you next year.

Edie Lush: 45:00 Thank you to you Claudia and…

Outro: 45:12 Global Goalscast was hosted by Edie Lush and Claudio Romo Edelman, our editorial guru by Mike Oreskes editing and sound production by Simon James. Our operations director is Michelle Cooprider and our interns Tina Pastore and Brittney Segura. Music in this episode was courtesy of Universal Production Music, one of the world’s leading production music companies, creating and licensing music for film, television, advertising, broadcast, and other media, including podcasts, original music by Neil Hale, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Katie Crone, and Andrew Phillips. This episode is brought to you by MasterCard, creating scalable solutions for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Thanks, also, CBS News Digital and Harmon, the official sound of Global Goalscast.

Imagine, if you can, industry leading the way to the SDGs


“Imagine all the people, living life in peace….no need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man.”

Those lyrics are surely familiar to you. They are from one of the most successful songs of all time, Imagine, by John Winston Lennon. Lennon, singing of his better world, voiced certainty that he “was not the only one” with this dream. Now, prominent corporate leaders have begun a new firm with the express purpose of making business and industry better global citizens. They have named the firm, Imagine, after the song. On this episode, Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman discuss Imagine and talk with two of the founders, Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, and Valerie Keller, a well-known CEO whisperer, coach and expert in transformational business leadership. With governments acting too slowly or in many crucial places gridlocked, more focus has fallen on the role of business in curbing climate change and achieving the other Sustainable Development Goals. Keller and Polman argue that much can be accomplished by creating “collective courageous behavior” by corporations working together to achieve what no one of them might take on alone. There first effort is underway in the Fashion industry and they talk about future plans for travel, tourism and, perhaps, even energy. Claudia observes that Imagine, the song, which was written in 1981, seems to call for the Sustainable Development Goals long before they were created in 2015. But Lennon also sang of “no possessions,” which might be a step further down a socialist road than Imagine, the company, envisions. Edie and Claudia discuss Imagine, the company’s place in what they describe as a movement to create a “better capitalism,” not replace it. “What we are really seeing in this world is that many people are dreaming for a better world than we have currently,” Polman says.

Facts and Actions “to help meet the moment…the decisive decade of the 2020s” are from a leading expert in sustainable business, Aron Cramer, President and CEO of BSR, a not-for-profit which advises companies on sustainability. You can read Cramer’s 2019 CEO letter, “A New Climate for Business”.

Laura MacKenzie, Senior Vice President of our sponsor, Mastercard, describes Mastercard’s work creating digital systems to pay garment workers, predominantly women, around the world. This protects their earnings and increases their access to the formal financial system. “many of the women,” MacKenzie says, “also have ambitions of their own. They would like to own land they would like to start a business. That’s what’s so exciting about this work.”

Photo credits: Hirsty65

Featured guests

Paul Polman

Paul Polman is Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE, a benefit corporation and foundation accelerating business leadership to achieve the Global Goals. He also serves as Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce, The B Team, Oxford Said Business School and is Vice-Chair of the U.N. Global Compact.

He was CEO of Unilever for 10 years where he demonstrated that a long-term, multi-stakeholder model goes hand-in-hand with good financial performance. During his tenure, Unilever was one of the best-performing companies in its sector, delivering ten years of consistent top and bottom line growth.

Paul was appointed to the U.N. Secretary General’s High-level Panel that developed the Sustainable Development Goals and has played a leading role since in highlighting the business case for the 2030 development agenda, including as a founder member of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. He remains a U.N.-appointed SDG Advocate.

Photo credits: @justinwu

Valerie Keller

IMAGINE Co-Founder and CEO, Valerie Keller helps leaders use their power for good. With deep expertise in transformation, she helps global corporations become purpose-led and future-fit — and convenes cross-sector coalitions to accelerate tipping points for humanity’s Global Goals.

Valerie is also an Associate Fellow of the University of Oxford Saïd Business School where she directs executive education programs.

Founder of Veritas and of Beacon Institute, she served as EY Global Markets Executive Director and CEO of US-based social enterprises addressing homelessness, healthcare and housing.

She was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and serves on the Harvard Kennedy School Women’s Leadership Board. 

Photo credits: @justinwu

Aron Cramer

Aron Cramer is recognized globally as a preeminent authority on sustainable business. In addition to leading BSR, which has grown substantially throughout his tenure as President and CEO, Aron advises senior executives at BSR’s more than 250 member companies and other global businesses on the full spectrum of social and environmental issues.

Aron joined BSR in 1995 as the founding director of its Business and Human Rights Program, and later opened BSR’s Paris office in 2002, where he worked until becoming President and CEO in 2004. Aron serves on advisory boards to CEOs at Barrick Gold, Marks & Spencer, and SAP, and previously for AXA, Shell, and Nike. He is also a director of the Natural Capital Coalition, the International Integrated Reporting Council, and We Mean Business, and serves as a member of the Steering Council for the World Economic Forum’s Board of Stewards of its Future of Consumption System Initiative.

Aron speaks frequently at leading business forums and is widely quoted in top-tier media such as the Financial Times, Le Figaro (France), The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He is co-author of the book Sustainable Excellence: The Future of Business in a Fast-Changing World, which spotlights innovative sustainability strategies that enable business success.

Prior to joining BSR, Aron practiced law in San Francisco and worked as a journalist at ABC News in New York. He holds a B.A. from Tufts University and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Laura Mackenzie

As Senior Vice President of Global Prepaid for Mastercard, Laura is responsible for developing, executing, leading and adapting the global product strategy for Mastercard’s core prepaid products. In addition, she is responsible for driving product solutions to deliver Mastercard’s commitment to the World Bank to include 500 million people into the formal economy by 2020 through the development and deployment of innovative products and delivery channels.

Prior to this role, she spent 12 years leading Mastercard’s US Merchant acceptance for core merchant verticals. Mackenzie began her career in fashion with luxury global brands Ralph Lauren, Ann Klein and Nicole Farhi before making a move into the financial realm with South African start up joint venture e-commerce companies. She has spent many years living and working overseas in London, Barcelona and Johannesburg.

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of

Special thank you to:


Paul Polman:  00:01 You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I think what we are really seeing in as well to as many people are dreaming for a better world than we have currently.

Valerie Keller:00:09  We were looking at pictures of children as young as four and five who because their fingers are so small, right? They’re able to pick out the metal, right? Nobody wants that.

Paul Polman: 00:20 Obviously, you have leaders and laggers there, but don’t forget they’re all parents. They all have children at home and these children are saying, I don’t want you to be my parents anymore. If you don’t create a future that we can live in.

Valerie Keller: 00:31 If you want to change the trajectory of kind of the collective behavior, sometimes you can actually just shift by the murmuring of a few birds, right? To start till flock starts to move in a different direction. It takes one, two, three to start to tip it.

Paul Polman: 00:42 If you get enough people together in the private sector, you get a collective courageous behavior and we believe, and we’ve already seen some proof of that, that as a result, we can drive the implementation of the sustainable development goals a little bit fast on, hopefully make this world a better place for everybody.

Claudia Edelman: 01:06  Welcome to the Global Goalscast!

Edie Lush: 01:08 The podcast that explores how we can change the world.

Claudia Edelman: 01:12 This episode, we will imagine a different world economy, a world where the biggest industries and corporations work together to redefine globalization. I make capitalism work for everyone that includes cutting carbon emissions and pulling people out of poverty for example.

Edie Lush: 01:30 Remember that song? Imagine from John Lennon [humming] inspired by Yoko Ono. Exactly. Imagine all the people John Lennon saying, no need for greed or hunger.

Claudia Edelman: 01:50  I think that he was calling for the Sustainable Development Goals even before there were Sustainable Development Goals. Every line in that song refers to one or more of the goals. It seems to me, end conflict, eradicate hunger, make it a better capitalism.

Edie Lush: 02:07 And our guest, this episode will tell us why this doesn’t have to be a dream. They’ve started a company to make it happen and they’ve named the company, Imagine.

Claudia Edelman: 02:16 Can I be the official singer of the company?

Edie Lush:  02:18 They actually have official socks, so I don’t know why they wouldn’t have an official singer. I think you’d be great.

Claudia Edelman: 02:25  I can make a … I can go on stage every time Paul Polman wants to…wants to talk. I can be the intro. Why do you need to interrupt Polman if you can sing his intro. There you go.

Edie Lush:02:34 We’re going to talk about all of that and much more right after this.

Transition:  02:39This episode of global goals cast is brought to you by MasterCard. MasterCard is dedicated to building an inclusive world in which the digital economy works for everyone everywhere.

Sponsors: 02:51 So many of the women that we spoke to also have ambitions of their own. They’d like to own land. They’d like to start a business. That’s part of what’s so exciting about this work. We’re not just helping workers get their wages more safely, but we’re including them in the formal financial system.

Transition: 03:09 Later in this episode, you’ll hear about MasterCard’s digital pay project to protect the world’s garment workers. Thanks also to CBS News Digital and Universal Production Music and to Harman, the official sound of Global Goalscast.

Claudia Edelman: 03:33 Welcome back. I’m Claudia Romo Edelman.

Edie Lush:  03:36 And I am Edie Lush. Claudia, you and I have been for two years now sharing stories about the Sustainable Development goals. One question I think tugs on us more than any other. How will we get this done? And then next 10 years.

Claudia Edelman: 03:50  Yes, how will we curve of global warming and eradicate poverty? How are we going to increase gender equality? How are we going to reduce conflict? Especially when so many governments are not doing enough or even worse, taking us in the wrong direction?

Edie Lush: 04:05 Right? US pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords, China building more new coal fired power plants and the entire rest of the world.

Claudia Edelman: 04:14 And the Trade Wars that are happening are undermining the effort to eradicate poverty. So much to do, so little time. But here’s the thing. Governments matter of course, and they are on the growing pressure from the public to do more and more. But the truth is that most of the world’s economy is shaped not only by governments, but by the actions that the industry and big corporations take. Imagine if industry did more.

Edie Lush:04:42 You got it, and I sat down actually in this very studio just the other day with two people, friends of the Global Goalscast who believe that they can make it happen. They’re called Paul Pullman and Valerie Keller .

Claudia Edelman: 04:56 Paul was until recently the CEO of Unilever, one of the largest household and personal product companies in the world. He was widely known for keeping Unilever and its employees focused on making the company be part of the solution and not part of the problem and creating a more sustainable world. As a fact, Edie, he suggested 10 years ago that every brand of Unilever, everyone of them would have a purpose that made it not only a great success financially, but Unilever became the third most desirable company to work for in the world because people care.

Edie Lush: 05:33 And that’s in fact why I started using Unilever products.

Claudia Edelman: 05:37 Is that right?

Edie Lush: 05:38 Back in the day.

Claudia Edelman:05:39 Oh, do you…do you soap it with dove.

Edie Lush 05:41  Deodorant, Dove, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Very loyal to Ben and Jerry’s.

Claudia Edelman: 05:46 It is actually crazy because consumers care and buy with their beliefs and employees. Young people want to work for a company that inspires them. So this raised big anxiety when he decided to retire. Could the sustainable world keep the work going without its main champion. So Paul turn for guidance to Valerie Keller, a well known CEO whisperer coach and leadership expert.

Paul Polman: 06:11  We started working intensively together about a year ago when we were thinking about the transition at Unilever and some people were concerned outside of the company more than inside that if I would retire, that our focus on driving this more sustainable and equitable business model grounded in the sustainable development goals, multi-stakeholder longer term, that that would be challenged

Edie Lush: 06:33 and now is not the time to lose such a powerful force for good. As Paul himself explained,

Paul Polman: 06:38 I think what we are really seeing in as well as many people are dreaming for a better world than we have currently and bringing the sustainable development goals to life. We’re actually well behind on our current trajectory globally. We will only achieved them in 2073 and that’s way too late. Lots of people will suffer or lose their lives as a consequence and fortunately there are many people in the world who don’t want to be part of them, but then we have this dilemma of fine, we know what we need to do and we need to solve issues like climate change and make this world function for more people than we currently do. But collectively we don’t seem to be able to do it. And Imagine is really created to create that collective courage and work at industry level under the premise really that we need the private sector to step up. It’s very clear that moving forward we’re having a little bit of a difficult situation geopolitically, whilst we need the NGOs and trade associations, et cetera, they are not really designed to deliver the step changes. But if you get enough people together in the private sector, you get a collective courageous behavior and with 25 to 30% of a industry sector present around a table, you can actually create tipping points and we believe, and we’ve already seen some proof of that, that as a result we can drive the implementation of the sustainable development goals a little bit faster and hopefully make this world a better place for everybody.

Edie Lush:08:03 You mentioned collective…

Valerie Keller: 08:05  Courageous.

Edie Lush:08:06 courageous collective. What’s interesting about that is that it encourages people to act together, but you also work with leaders to make them more empowered, more excited to take these changes. So how do those two things work together?

Valerie Keller: 08:21 And actually even when we work with leaders, we will usually work in the collective. So Paul mentioned how.

Paul Polman: 08:27 it’s a synergy.

Valerie Keller:08:28 it’s a synergy and it also comes from just a deep understanding of this human operating system. Human beings get courage in the collective. The best image that I might want to think about is this kind of the, the flock of birds. If you want to change the trajectory of kind of the collective behavior, sometimes you can actually just shift by the murmuring of a few birds, right? Just start to flock starts to move in a different direction. It takes one, two, three to start to tip it. Part of it is also about just tapping into the fundamental essence of our human nature. Humans meaning and belonging. We’re hungry for that and the people who make up these CEO and C-suite positions, these executives are human beings. Who fundamentally at some level know what time it is and are deeply concerned about the trajectory of our planet and of course what that means in terms of rising inequality and the kind of social fabric, right? So when you put these people together in conversations, they get higher ambition and collective action. People kept asking me after Paul was leaving Unilever, gosh, do you think Unilever is going to hold the course? Cause we really need them to really prove the model. Right? Why? Because they were looking for more of the collective as well. Safety in numbers. I think one of the interesting learnings was part of the work that Paul and our other co-founder, Jeff Seabright was involved with the consumer goods forum. So we’re looking at, you know, kind of leveraging the learnings about what we’ve seen work well elsewhere, where you’ve been able to kind of bring together CEOs of companies who might otherwise be in competitive spaces and together make decisions on it.

Paul Polman:  09:55 Well, see there are many areas that you don’t want to compete on that if you don’t fulfill them, the whole industry gets pulled down. You’d take plastics as a good example. Now there is a huge issue after David Edinburgh’s on the national geographic issues on the wheel on the beats. I think everybody is now understanding that we need a more circular or regenerative economy and that the fact that we’re heading towards more plastic in the oceans than fish is not a good thing. But any individual company take consumer goods. It’s impossible for these companies alone to set up a recycling industry. They don’t have to scale the knowhow, the capabilities, and it requires working with multiple parties from civil society to governments to companies and others alike. So you need to put these alliances together and that’s obviously very hard work, but if you bring an industry together, you can actually move these things forward as a faster speed. A good example of a, an area that is what we would call pre-competitive.

Edie Lush:10:51  Pre-competitive meaning?

Paul Polman: 10:53  Pre-competitive means that consumers don’t really buy on those criteria in a consumer doesn’t buy a television based on the mechanism for remote control yet it sucks in a lot of energy. If you can put the standards for the industry, there was lower energy use, you’d be better off. So the same as two on ice cream and beverage cabinets. If you take all these cabinets which engines in there to keep it cool, consumers don’t buy a beverage. It’s a Coke or Pepsi or an ice cream like a Magnum or a Ben and Jerry’s based on the engine that is in this cabinet. Now these engines are HFC or CFC. That’s an enormous destructive effect on global warming industry. Got together, decided to move to natural refrigerants, collectively spent money to provide the innovation to get there. Engineers invented less energy use, no HFC or CFC natural refrigerants like ammonia. Big influence on the Kigali agreement which goes back to the Montreal Accords. So the countries didn’t get courage when they see the whole industry moving. So you’re not only in case transform over a period of 10 years to 3 million ice cream cabinets or all these Bedford’s cabinets, but you’re also influencing then at that scale, that public policy and you’re moving faster than any company could have. None alone. It could have never achieved that.

Valerie Keller: 12:07 What’s interesting there is that you say the company’s move or the industry’s move. It’s people, right? We say organizations are made of organisms if you just want to distill it down to that. Right? And so when, when we look at that story and we say, well, how did that happen? Right? So how do we get more of those kinds of collective actions? You would say? Well, there was a guy named Paul, he was at Unilever and then there was a guy named, I don’t know who was it, who was at Nestle at the time,

New Speaker: 12:30 Nestle at that time was Paul Booker.

Valerie Keller:12:30 so it was like, let’s get Paul and Paul on the call and let’s talk together about how when we go in, who’s going to say what first? Right? Who’s going to set the bar high and then we’re going to move it together. I think we often kill ourselves in the notion of systems transformation. We all need to move. No, the flock needs a couple of birds to start to think how do we use our power to start just fly differently? No CEO wants a child in their value chain, in their supply chain to be going to bed hungry. Actually this morning we were with an entrepreneur in the fashion industry and a member of the Royal family who’s really passionate around taking slavery, modern day slavery and ending that and the supply chains and we were looking at pictures of children as young as four and five who because their fingers are so small, right? They’re able to pick out the metal, right? Nobody wants that. Right? So there’s a deliberate conversation that says we don’t have to do it that way. The only reason it’s done that way is just because we’re not being conscious about it and we haven’t decided that we want to do it differently. So I think there’s an important learning for us here that when we do these, let’s just humanize this, let’s simplify it at a certain level and it doesn’t mean that it’s easy, but it can be simple.

Paul Polman:  13:40 We have actually the opportunity to convene in the industries that have the highest impact on the Sustainable Development Goals. And that’s what we have priorized on. We have the possibility to convene about 25 to 30% of the value chain. Partly having been a CEO was the networks that we have created around us. We can bring them actually together. And when you get 25 to 30% of the industry together, and usually they are leading companies by themselves, otherwise they wouldn’t be there. But then the CEOs collectively actually set the bar higher than each of them individually would do. And what you see is when you get 25-30% of the industry together, others actually call in and say, why can’t I be part of that? Because clearly there’s something happening.

Edie Lush: 14:20 It’s like being part of the cool gang.

Valerie Keller: 14:20 Your absolutely right. We say let’s put the cool kids club. and yeah.

Paul Polman:  14:21 and I don’t want to miss the boat. You know, I don’t wanna miss the boat.

Speaker 1: 14:26 And what also happens is then NGOs who have a strategy of attacking each individual company. When they see 25 to 30% together, they say, I want to be part of this journey. I want to influence it, be sure that it happens transparently and to the highest standards, but I want to be part so they become partners. And what we also see is governments become more interesting. So instead of getting these knee jerk reactions in rules, laws and regulations that are basically geared towards the next election cycle are not what we need. You get substansive frameworks that are put in place that are often translated into less regulation.

Speaker 1: 15:02 How do you tackle something like the auto industry? So just taking a a moment in time. For the last couple of months we saw four auto makers reaching agreement with the state of California to limit auto emissions, but then we saw the Trump administration coming in messing that one up, announcing they want to loose their standards, and they began an investigation to see if the auto companies had broken antitrust laws. How do you work with both the companies and then the government to make the right thing happen.

Paul Polman:15:33   While you’re pointing out here, a specific issue was California. Where you have a state was in a country that is more ambitious and a government that has set different targets, often driven by political interest and election cycles. So there is tension sometimes at micro level, but take a step back and look at the car industry. All the major car companies in the world have made commitments to decarbonize and get out of internal combustion engines. It was actually invented by Mercedes. Mercedes has made very aggressive agreements. Some companies by 2025 some by 2030 but it’s moving. Folks who are going just made a commitment to spend over $1 billion in their research to get there. So we see major cities in the world now cities as far as London and Rome and Copenhagen and Brussels, and the list goes on that are putting timelines in place now for being a combustion free and getting into electric vehicles. That’s moving very fast. And obviously you can imagine if these big cities move, then the country’s moving and the thing will spread very quickly. We need to electric grid systems for jotting of these. We need standards on batteries. We need standards on materials being used in recycling and safety standards. So getting collectively together with these industries will allow us to move much faster than you automize would be.

Claudia Edelman: 16:54 When we returned to Edie’s conversation with Paul Polman and Valerie Keller. We will hear how, Imagine is working with a fashion industry to help save the planet and improve the life of its workers.

Edie Lush: 17:07 But first, here’s Laura McKinsey from our sponsor, MasterCard, who’s providing those same garment factory workers, long overdue financial inclusion and a possible future beyond the factories.

Laura McKinsey: 17:21  We know that we can’t do anything without partners that can help us reach and access individual sectors of people. So as we’ve embarked upon our garment program, we’ve established a recent coalition and that coalition at the moment includes industry players like Levi’s strauss, Marks and Spencer in vanity fair corporation and vanity fair corporation is the parent company of brands. You’ll know like North face, Timberland, Jansport and many others and we work with them to identify factories that they use to produce their goods and digitize the wages for those factory workers. We also work in conjunction with a global nonprofit BSR, which stands for Business for Social Responsibility. One of the critical elements of being successful in these pilots is ensuring the financial literacy and education of these workers. Certain workers who have a leadership position and a level of respect within the textile factory community are chosen to be pure leaders and they become the trainers and we bring those folks into the program. We give them access to the card products and the mobile wallets early on so that they can begin to use it and they can then become not only trainers, but evangelists out to their colleagues and their peers in the factory. I had the great good fortune to be in Egypt at one of our factories earlier this summer, and we’ve met with many factory workers. They’re predominantly women, and they’re driven is so many of us are by a deep desire to ensure that their children have good education, can move on to professions. They don’t actually want their children to remain garment workers as they are. They have higher aspirations for them. So many of the women that we spoke to also have ambitions of their own. They’d like to own land, they’d like to start a business. So for me personally, that’s part of what’s so exciting about this work. We’re not just helping workers get their wages more safely, but we’re including them in the formal financial system, which means that they can have savings accounts. Some have access to credit for their business. They can put away funds for their children and their families and they can continue to support their families both locally in and around, but also overseas.

Edie Lush: 19:57 Thanks to Laura McKenzie, she’s senior vice president from our sponsor, MasterCard.

Claudia Edelman:20:02 Now back to Eddie’s conversation with Paul Pullman and Valarie Keller from Imagine.

Speaker 1:   20:09 So what are the industries that you’re working on that will make the biggest difference? Believe it or not, the second most polluting industry from a point of view of climate change, biodiversity oceans, uh, is in fact the fashion industry to many people surprise, but 45% of the plastic you find in the oceans are the microfibers from the clothes and washing that obviously enter into the food chain very quickly and have devastating effects. But also the way that cotton is grown or water use, it’s behind a making of blue jeans and other things is a devastating effect on biodiversity. And then obviously the labor standards in the value chain as we’ve seen in the runup last hours of this world are not up to the standards of what we want our own children to be exposed to. So this industry has worked to do. That’s the first industry we focused on. Now we’re starting to make progress there. The second industry we’re focusing on right now and a relatively limited time we’ve had together is travel and tourism. 10% of the world population is employed in tourism itself. It’s an industry that has so over 320 million people working for them, a tremendous impact. And here again, triple on tourism alone, it’s about a 10% of carbon emissions. So that’s a big industry that we’re focused on. And then fruit

Valerie Keller: 21:25 contributing to biodiversity loss at a rapid rate as well.

Speaker 1: 21:28  And the third industry we focus on is food and land use. 30% of the natural solutions for climate change is the forest side as well. And reforestation. And the way we currently produce food leads to enormous poverty in the value chain once more, but also leads to enormous destruction of the world’s biodiversity was devastating. Climate affects over 20% of the climate effects actually come from food and land use. So if we can tackle those three industries fast as a priority over the next five years to create these tipping points, I think we might not have solved all the problems. We should not be pretentious here, but we might have made a major contribution in accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Valerie Keller:  22:07 As we’re working with the fashion industry. It feels really great what we’ve been able to help to support and catalyzed and tell us what you have been able to. Sure. I’ll do it because Paul’s too modest. I remember saying, yeah, it’s the industry doing it right. That’s right. President Emmanuel Macron had met with Paul during the UN general assembly a year ago. And we were saying, of course, you know, governments aren’t moving fast enough, but France had the G-7, um, that it was going to be hosting. And so the question was is can we help mobilize the private sector around this kind of public moment? And one of the things that we were looking at already was saying, okay, but where are the industries that really in the companies that can make a big impact? And so fashion well we thought France is fashion, right?and what happened there was really amazing. I mean it’s the first step toward the longer step, but we had 32 companies, 32 companies signed on. Now it’s an open ended, right? It’s optional on a piece. But in terms of really making material commitments around climate regenerative cotton and plastics, big steps in that way, not knowing how they were going to get there, but you know, as we would say and agree with and others have said as well, it’s about acts not packs. The question now is saying, can we help curate a group of CEOs across the value chain? And if I had my magic wand to wave, it would be of course people from mass, the Adidas and the Nike’s of the world. Obviously there’s people who are from the manufacturing and the retailers like Alana with Selfridges and others. But what if I had to wave a magic wand? I’d say we’d put this group together on the floor of the Aral Sea because you can be on the floor of the Aral Sea right now. And when I came into this world, you couldn’t, it was a fourth largest city in the, and why is it now of carcinogenic? Arid forbed that’s lost all the fishing villages and a livelihood. It’s just because of cotton over production. The water was diverted to Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. So it was just scale and bad planning on this. And to help a group of people see something, you can’t unsee and then to say, you know what? We don’t have to do it this way. We can collectively do it better.

Valerie Keller: 24:14 This isn’t a snap your fingers and move to transition overnight. Right. There’s a design to the current system on it and we need to redesign something better. So we’re saying it’s about a five year commitment that we would see minimum five years and maybe of course there’s a 10 year horizon for the global goals and then travel and tourism. I mean, let’s see, the CEOs have been reaching out right? From hospitality, from cruises, from airlines, right? From the travel and tourism operators.

Edie Lush:  24:41 And talk a little more about de-risking because that seems to be one of the things that you guys work on quite strongly. Making CEOs and industry feel like there’s less of a risk, is that right?

Paul Polman:24:54 Well, collectively there is less of a risk if you do it as an industry. If we all move, then you don’t get this a prisoner’s dilemma. If I do it and you don’t do it, I might be at a disadvantage. There is still disbelieve in some of them in the industry that it costs money. In fact, it’s increasingly proven to be the opposite, but having safety in numbers is a very important part to get the industry on board and as we see as fashion as we’re going to see with travel and tourism. That will definitely happen. But the other thing that is far more important that the industry, we have few leaders that are first to engage with governments or to engage with NGOs.

Edie Lush:  25:28  Like what?

Paul Polman:  25:28 Well, many CEOs are busy keeping their companies afloat and they hate to get involved in politics and they don’t really have the skills on how to do that. Because as an individual company, you cannot do that might be some lobbying, but how do you really collectively change the system? It’s very difficult. But if you come together as an industry, 30-40% of an industry, all of a sudden you discuss with governments and Congress good proposals. So this is where Imagine provides that safe space and that is what we call de-risking. And that’s a very important thing right now because what we’re really after is changing the systems and not working in the system anymore.

Valerie Keller: 26:06 I had a one of the world’s largest ice cream brands out with us in Indonesia and we were looking at the largest Buddhist temple and having the conversation around kind of, okay, well what is the need of the world right now? What’s the big challenge that the world needs from us? And if we were to have the courage to put our scale in service of that, and when they redefine it says what we’re up to as being part of the happiness movement. There’s, we’re solving for a deep disconnect that people have with themselves, with their ecology and with societies and we actually are at the grassroots level and have an opportunity to help to solve that. Then the next question comes, it says, well, who else is in the happiness movement? Right? And how can we be a part of actually saying we are here to help accelerate that. So that’s part of saying how you can move from people who are adversaries to allies just by saying we’re redefining the game to say what does the world need from us now and how do we show up in service of that? And that’s a fun game to play too. That’s the other thing. We really have seen this move from sustainability as it’s heavy and hard and don’t do batch, right? There’s a possibility here, and I think this goes back to the sense of, you know the what, when John Lennon and Yoko Ono were gifting to us with the song, “Imagine”, right? There we’re saying imagine all the people sharing all the world. I mean this is not just a pipe dream. It’s what we set our imagination on. We can achieve it. We’ve done that. Humanity has done that over the course of centuries. So what is it that we want to imagine as the possible?

Edie Lush 27:24 I wonder if you imagine sitting down with the oil production majors as well and what might be possible there. I think there was a report the other day saying that by 2030 on current trends, the world be taking more than twice as much fossil fuel out of the ground that can be burned if we’re ever to achieve the Paris climate agreement. So could you imagine, there’s the word, sitting down with the major oil companies to work out a curb on extraction?

Paul Polman: 27:52 The oil industry is obviously a very challenged industry because under the, the privately owned companies or of what you would call the publicly traded companies are probably only 15 to 20% of the whole industry. And it’s a state controlled industry in many cases, which makes it especially difficult because for many of these governments, it’s an enormous source of revenue. So can the industry alone solve that at the speed that is needed is probably difficult. Can we get the industry collectively come together and create a critical mass to drive some changes? I think that is possible. The industry is now coming together and looking at carbon capture storage. They’ve committed 1 billion. That’s probably not enough for what is needed. We have a broad enough coalition now that is calling for carbon pricing. As you know, you need to look at your risks in your value chain. You need to have a carbon price and you need to have, or a cap and trade system and, and uh, and, and to move it forward. So the industry has collective initiatives, but I think increasingly the bar is being set higher. And the question is, can we get them up to that level? And there’s obviously in some of the elements of that industry is still dysfunctional behavior where people have an interest to protect the current system because it’s serving them well. But there are companies within that are making rapidly the transformation. And if we can create some more critical mass around that, I think also that you see this industry being more responsible. Obviously you have leaders and laggers there, but don’t forget they’re all parents. They all have children at home and these children are saying, I don’t want you to be my parents anymore if you don’t create a future that we can live in. They also see the great Thornburns and they’re actually taking off on Fridays to be protesting. So more pressure is coming from them.

Valerie Keller: 29:37 An the insurers are getting on board too, right? So I think that’s also a part of it. You talk about risk, right? And de-risking it well. If you’ve got to start pricing risk and a completely different way, then

Paul Polman:29:44 it’s a big de-carbonization movement happening now. So they feel that pressure. Now what we need to do is work with these companies because they’ve provided energy to us. They’ve given us this tenet of living. There are many people working there, although seven times more jobs get created now in green energy, there’s still many people working in the fossil. So this just transition that people are starting to talk is also extremely important. And to not just go cold Turkey on these companies because we do need energy, but to work with them on an accelerated transition and there the oil companies can probably step up to be more focal in working with governments to create environments that allow that transition to be accelerated. Yeah. So one day although there are lots of efforts going on globally right now, one day. We certainly envision that we apply the imagine learnings that we have right now also to that sector. Yeah,

Valerie Keller: 30:36it’s interesting as I’m thinking back to, and Paul, we were in, um, in Davos actually where we launched soft launched, imagine a little bit, but we had a CEO of Allianz who Paul knows, well Oliver Bate. It’s right on. He was sitting in the conversation and Gillian Tett says actually kind of launching moral money and all of said something really interesting to Jillian. He said, you know, my daughter asked me, dad, are you proud of everything you do? And he attributes that as his moment of going, Hmm, actually let’s go back and have a conversation. So it’s the conversation with yourself. The conversation again about Oliver and his daughter again, this is what he was saying right on the stage and Davos was kind of his, Oh yeah, right now maybe actually no, we could do something different. And he goes back and he has a conversation with his board and his management team and then he asked Paul to come out and have a conversation with his management team.

Paul Polman:   31:26  There was once a year right now, not to be named, but he has all his board members, internal board members to write a letter to their children and what they would be telling their children they would be doing and then converting from those chains. It’s very transformative because it really helps. It really helps.

Edie Lush: 31:46 We’ve talked about climate and infultriating is this other idea about extreme poverty and tackling that as a real issue. So I wonder why for you cutting and eliminating extreme poverty is part of your goal for Imagine.

Speaker 6:   32:02 because they’re two sides of the same coin. In fact, climate change right now is driving more people into poverty. We’re at that tipping point and if you also look in these industries, what you want to solve, let’s take the food and land use industry, 826 million people still going to bed hungry every night, not knowing if they wake up the next day. So you cannot make an industry transformation if you don’t take that into account. At the end of the day, it’s not about solving climate change. At the end of the day, it’s giving a decent life to everybody on this planet earth. There are some simple principles in this world of dignity and respect of equity with a certain level of compassion that comes into that and it then boils down to ensuring that we don’t leave too many people behind. This is now a system where last year, the bottom 3.8 billion people of the world population has seen their income combined code down by 11% it’s the first time that that is happening whilst the billionaires became again 900 billion richer. So if we can find a way to include in these industries more inclusive, it’s also to the interest of the industries because lots of them might be their employees, they might be in their value chains where there are lots of issues in many companies and there might be uh, not only their employees, they’re also their consumers, which is a very important part of that. And obviously the broader society at large needs to function. So having all these businesses really focus on inequality at the same time. It makes a lot of sense in tourism, you see the same thing, a lot of child labor still in tourism that exposes tourism to its negative side. That is actually not helping the industry over time and what you see as if you can attack that by treating these people better, paying these people better and doing that again collectively by having some courage sticking to the ruggy framework of human rights and other areas that you actually lift that whole industry up, make it desirable, make it aspirational, and actually your economics work for you. Then as well, you have a motivated workforce, less a attrition and other things that come in place. But you need to lift the industry collectively because it’s very difficult for each individual company to do that. So whatever sector you look at, be it fashion, be a tourist or travel or be at food and land, use the leaving, no one behind, which is the ultimate goal of the sustainable development goals or attacking this inequality that is there is that very important component.

Valerie Keller: 34:20   This is a not a nice to have. This is a necessity. And so there’s a kind of a moment, there’s a rallying cry is an invitation that says, okay, business leaders, you’re not just business leaders, you are members of tribe humanity.

Claudia Edelman:  34:34  So what is the difference between a courageous collective and a cartel, Edie asks Paul Polman, to answer one of Adam Smith’s , most famous quotes that people have the same trade seldom meet together even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public or in some contrive as to raise prices.

Paul Polman: 34:57 It is good to remind ourselves that before he wrote the a wealth of nations which you referred to in your quote, he actually wrote 17 years before the book of the theory of moral sentiment and people have forgotten that. So I would say first read the book of the theory of moral sentiment. Now there is a truth that the invisible hand will not automatically correct ourselves and there are tragedies of the comments that are increasingly transparent and one of them is that we don’t have a price on these externalities and the resource use earth overshoot day this year was July 29th which means that we use 60% more resources than this earth can replenish. That’s a typical example of the tragedy of comments. So more than will they raise prices or not. I think the markets are transparent and competitive enough to intervene. And we’ve had, uh, enough examples there of government activity, which gets the attention is more as how do we deal with these tragedies of the common and they can only be solved if we have collective action.

Paul Polman: 35:55 And that goes back to the theory of moral sentiment. Ultimately, we have to ensure that we can live together as human beings on this planet now and for generations to come. It’s inconceivable to me that in the last 20 or 30 years, our generation that we have done more damage to this planet than in his previous 5 billion years of existence. What gives us the right to do that? So more and more businesses understand that more and more businesses want to be part of that solution. And in fact, we’re coming to the point where you now see that businesses are probably moving faster to attack. Some of these issues like climate change, then we get governments to do. And it’s now a moment. We’ve benefited from governments for a long time to give us this standard of living. Now it’s actually time for businesses to step up and help these governments and to be more courageous collectively. And that is exactly what we’re going to focus on. And that’s the essence of imagine in action.

Claudia Edelman:36:54 Wow. What an interesting conversation.

Edie Lush:  36:56 And do you see the connection to John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and imagine John Lennon was a poet and poets offer us visions, dreams. That is another poet. Robert Browning once wrote, must exceed our grasp. Poets show us where we could go. CEO’s, leaders like Paul Polman and Valerie Keller try to get us there. Poets are incredibly important. Having that imagination to rethink the problems that we have. When you have a man like Paul Polman that is both a man of action but also a man of ideas, you create traction and movements and people that want to follow. This is part of our movement, isn’t it? I’ll call it the better capitalism movement or the fourth industrial revolution. So everywhere I’ve been recently, Edie, business people, news magazines, everyone has been like, Holy cow, we really need to do something about it. Doesn’t it? We went too far, capitalism has to be rethought and we have to make globalization work for everyone. We have globalized music and sports and trade, but we now have to globalize rights and globalize fairness for everyone. And I think that that’s where the movement is going. However, John Lennon asked us to imagine a world with no need for greed. Right? In a sense, Polman and Keller don’t go that far. They imagine a world with the rough edges kind of smoothed off of greed. A capitalism of where profit is one of several motives. A balance. Yeah. And I think that recognizing the stakeholders the way that the business round table recommended. So in that sense, Paul and Keller are reformers and not revolutionaries.

Speaker 3: 38:43 And I imagine there’s, there were the, again, that those who really want a whole new system will view these as tinkering, could be, or even worse, they will say that a cartel is a cartel. Basically, that’s what Trump is saying about the automakers who made a deal with California to go further than Trump wanted to in curbing emissions. So Paul Polman skirted around that question about Adam Smith’s famous warning that letting the bosses of an industry sit together, even if they say it’s for good will end badly. Yeah, well he will surely get that question again. But Edie, at the same time there’s, those were arguing that capitalism is actually our only hope. Take Andrew McAfee in his brand new book “More from less”. He argues that it is the engine of capitalism, the profit motive, the greed, if you like that better. That will drive innovation and the efficient use of resources that we must have in the next 10 years to reduce our consumption of resources while continuing to improve living standards. So from that point of view, better capitalism is the best path to achieving the SDGs. There is no question that from Korea, Japan, China, editors of he financial times. I went to the Bloomberg New Economy summit. I see that origin, desire, what are the things that need to be done? What is the plan? So the SDGs provide one answer, but there’s a movement out there to restore a fairer globalization for all. Although we still have to break the gridlock that is paralyzing. Many governments, taxing carbon, for example, to cure global warming won’t happen without governments agreeing.

Claudia Edelman:40:26 Pretty much the same story about inequality, which I think is the main driver of losing trust in every institution in the world for the last 20 years. It undermines business governments, everything. Everyone has lost trust in their institutions because of inequality and Keller and Polman were very clear that they recognize that sharing the fruits of industry more widely, reducing inequality and eradicating poverty are essential.

Edie Lush: 40:55  Without that you can imagine much more radical approaches taking hold or just a retreat to short term thinking. Look at what’s happening in China.

Claudia Edelman: 41:04  Yes, exactly. I’m just coming back from China as I mentioned, and it’s so complicated and it’s so interesting to see China and climate change as a way to explore how complicated is to achieve these goals and to really move the needle for things like climate change. So they are a leader in solar energy and renewables. The vice chairman was at the Bloomberg new economic forum expressing justified pride saying we are on track for the Paris Accords. And nevertheless, you know, like it’s complicated because there’s also building more coal plants and the rest of the world. And why is that? Because they’re worried about their economy too. And that is where I worry, Edie, that we’re putting too much on the plates of corporations.

Speaker 3: 41:46 We’re expecting a lot, but no one really knows how much corporations can really achieve. Take it on climate change. It really in order to solve the issue of climate change, you need all the political will, the policies, but also trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars. Not even if you put all the budgets of all the corporations of the world together, you would get that amount of money. And also no one has really measured what can really be achieved by corporation when it comes to the SDGs. So there may be an elution that they can do more that what they really can. That is right. And I’m sure at Claudia that we’re going to be back to this discussion in future episodes.

Edie Lush: 42:27 For this episode’s facts and actions section where as you know, we give you three facts that you can take away and look smart in front of your mother-in-law at the Christmas dinner table.

Claudia Edelman: 42:36 And impress her tick-tick bye mother-in-law tick, tick. Happy New Year.

Edie Lush:   42:41 And three actions you can take. If you want to go and do more, we turn to one of the experts on sustainable business.

Erin Kramer:  42:51  Hi, I’m Erin Kramer, the president and CEO of BSR, and I want to share with you three facts and three actions to help meet the moment that we face the decisive decade of the 2020s as we aim to accomplish the sustainable development goals. So first three facts. Well, just this week we’ve heard from the UN that the world needs to reduce emissions 7.6% per year during the 2020s in order to keep warming below 1.5 degrees. That is an urgent call to action. Secondly, let’s talk about income inequality. And as Oxfam has said, incoming equality continues to grow. We saw a wealth of the richest around the world grow by over 10% and the wealth of the 4 billion people with the least declined by over 10% in the last year. One fact, that’s good news though that I think is worth pointing out. We now have more than a hundred companies and I think we’ll see that number grow by the end of 2019 who’ve committed to a target of 1.5 degrees.

Speaker 7:  44:00 And we’ve also seen two of the six largest economies in the world, California and the United Kingdom commit to net zero by 2050 so three facts. Two of them I think tell us the urgency we need to work with and one of them is a sign of real progress. So three actions. Let’s talk about climate. And I would underline the fact that having companies commit to get all of their operations, including their supply chains at a 1.5 degree target, that’s become the new normal. Let’s companies really embrace that as we go into 2020. Second one is we badly need innovation in order to achieve the sustainable development goals. But right now, people don’t trust innovation. They don’t trust it because they see new business models, new technologies very often violating human rights or getting out beyond ethical principles that are broadly shared. So we need innovation that takes human rights, takes ethics into account that will ensure that we get the new kinds of products and services and business models and partnerships that we need to achieve the SDGs.

Speaker 7: 45:06Third action companies need to lend their voice in public policy debates. Governments around the world are retreating from climate commitments. They’re interfering with enjoyment of human rights. The business community has an important megaphone, has influence using it in order to ensure that we have public policies that create the right kinds of incentives for the right kinds of businesses to succeed and thrive and deliver on the SDGs. That central, it’s not too political, it’s absolutely important. So those are three facts and three actions as we head into the 2020s the 10 years when we need to deliver on the SDGs and the vision of the Paris agreement,

Edie Lush:45:50  Thanks to Aaron Kramer from BSR. BSR is a not for profit that has been advising businesses and industries on sustainability for 25 years.

Claudia Edelman: 46:00 For more from BSR, you can read Aaron Kramer, CEO letter@bsr.org it is cold and new climate for business.

New Speaker: 46:11 You don’t need to be a meteorologist to know which way the wind blows.

Claudia Edelman: 46:16  Our Global Goalscast playlist is coming together. John Lennon, Bob Dylan, who else? Annie Lennox of course, of course. Yeah. No and I, with our partnership with universal, we’re going to have even more artists coming your way.

Edie Lush: 46:28 Artist.

Claudia Edelman: 46:28  Artistas.

New Speaker: 46:28  So send us your suggestions, the listeners for our Global Goalscast SDGs playlist to us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Now I do think it’s a great idea to do a great playlist of the songs that are like spelling out how to change the world and make it a better place. Yeah. So the global goals guest playlist, including some Christmas carols.

Claudia Edelman: 46:51 There you go. Send us your suggestions and talking about carols, can we mention that? Um, I met with the head of communications of the Financial Times and she mentioned that the carols that her toddler is learning in school is no more jingle bells, jingle bells or you know, like Twinkle Twinkle. And so one old this goodies she’s learning carols of recycle and oceans and you know like save the planet.

Edie Lush: 47:15 Right.

New Speaker:  47:15 Turning England, you know,

Edie Lush:  47:18 Into young activists.

Claudia Edelman: 47:19 There you go.

Edie Lush: 47:19 I love it.

Claudia Edelman: 47:20  Yeah, all of those playlists are accepted as well. All the activist carols will accept those into our Spotify playlist.

Edie Lush:  47:29 Thanks to Claudia for coming to London to see me and record this and our thanks to Paul Pullman and Valerie Keller for sitting down with us and sharing their story. We will no doubt be hearing more from them in future episodes and thanks to you for listening please like and subscribe as we iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts from and follow us on social media @Globalgoalscast. See you next time.

Claudia Edelman:  47:55 Adios.

Edie Lush:  47:55   Adios, Happy holidays, whatever you celebrate. But do celebrate something, we have much to celebrate!

Outro: 48:02  Global Goalscast was hosted by Edie lush and Claudia Romo Edelman. We are editorial guru by Mike Oreske editing and sound production by Simon James. Our operations director is Michelle Cooprider and our interns, Tina Pastora and Brittney Segura. Music in this episode was courtesy of Universal Production Music, one of the world’s leading production music companies, creating and licensing music for use in film, television, advertising, broadcast, and other media, including podcasts, original music by Neil Hale, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Katie Crone, and Andrew Phillips. This episode is brought to you by MasterCard, creating scalable solutions for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Thanks. Also, CBS News Digital and Harmon, the official sound of Global Goals

‘My Number was 453’ – One migrant’s story


More than 30,000 African migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean. Ibrahim Kondeh narrowly escapes becoming one of them. But through luck and courage, he makes it across to Italy, although he pays a terrible price on the way. Claudia Romo Edelman and Edie Lush complete the story of this one migrant. “The story of migrants should be told more,” Ibrahim says in this episode.

“People tend to follow what the media tells about migrants and refugees — seen as people who come in to steal jobs, criminals. So, as a result, no one knows what our actual stories are. Positive stories can change the mindset of people.” 

Ibrahim encounters frustration and racism in Italy. But he also is helped along the way, particularly by an innovative use of text messaging called U-report. Tanya Accone of Unicef explains that U-report connects Ibrahim and other migrants and refugees with experts who can advise them when they are at their most vulnerable, alone in a new land without language our resources.

With the help of U-report Ibrahim navigates the Italian immigration rules and enrolls in high school. “A simple SMS,” says Tanya Accone, “can it change your life? I think Ibrahim would say, yes, it has.”

Facts and actions are offered by one of the creators of U-report, Mathias Devi Nielsen of Unicef.

“U-report is a tool for all youth to raise their voices battle stereotypes connecting youth to serve on a global scale. “

 U-report currently operates in 65 countries with 8.5 million uses. It is growing rapidly. Mathias invited companies, agencies, NGOs and youth groups to partner with u report to help provide migrants and refugees with answers to their questions

 * * *

The episode is brought to you by Mastercard, dedicated to building an inclusive world in which the digital economy works for everyone, everywhere

Global GoalsCast also welcomes a new partner, Universal Production Music, one of the world’s leading production music companies, creating and licensing music for film, TV, advertising, broadcast, and podcasts, including Global GoalsCast.

Featured guests

Ibrahim Adnan Kondeh

Ibrahim Adnan Kondeh, is a young man, 20 years of age, from Sierra Leone. He lived in a village with his family, helping with the farm and local shops. As a result of his family’s huge sacrifice, he used to go to school there, so he wasn’t among the poorest. Sadly, he was forced to escape when approached by a secret society that “grooms boys to become men”, facing tortures and threats. He then went on a journey eventually making his way into Italy. He arrived in Italy as an unaccompanied minor 3 years ago at the age of 17. The way there was not easy. He was kept as a slave in various locations on this journey. His boat was rescued crossing the Mediterranean Sea. His arrival at a reception center for refugees in Calabria was not very welcoming, the center was very crowded and would not offer services, such as education, for minors. After overcoming these roadblocks, and even learning Italian, Ibrahim was recognized as a bright writer, winning renowned competitions, such as the Moleskine Foundation and the U-Report Contests. Once his voice was heard, he became a U-Ambassador and active member on the platform and U-Blogger on the move. Thanks to his active participation, he applied to Refugees Welcome for a chance to be hosted by an Italian family, He was accepted and is now living there. He was also granted the Never Alone bid for a 2-year scholarship at the renowned United World College of the Adriatic.

Tanya Accone

Tanya Accone’s career has focused on helping international public and private sector organizations understand how to amplify their impact through the convergence of people, ecosystems and innovation. She is committed to applying innovation for social impact and as a public good, especially with and for young people.

Accone has been at the forefront of advocating for and leading ground-breaking initiatives at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). As Senior Advisor on Innovation at Scale, she has led UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre to support 90 countries to identify, adopt and adapt innovative solutions that have changed the lives of 180 million children and their communities. 

Among these initiatives are U-Report, a youth engagement and empowerment platform that facilitates 8 million young people in 60 countries to speak out on development issues, support child rights and improve their communities. And UPSHIFT, an initiative that empowers youth to build skills and opportunities through social innovation and entrepreneurship.

Accone joined UNICEF to design the organization’s first internet strategy and led its implementation in more than 100 countries. UNICEF received the internet-equivalent of an Oscar – a Webby Award – from The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences in recognition of the excellence of part of this work. She went on to establish and lead the organization’s human capital futures and analytics portfolio.  She tweets at @accone.

Mathias Devi

Mathias Devi Nielsen is a Youth & Innovation Specialist for UNICEF’s Office of Innovation. He manages the Global U-Report platform, a social messaging and youth empowering platform aiming to increase youth voices in legislation and setting the global agenda. With a background in Displacement and Emergency Response, Mathias has been deployed for the past 3 years in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and North-East Nigeria for the International NGO Danish Refugee Council.

This episode was made possible thanks to the support of


Ibrahim Kondeh: 00:00 My number was 453. Everyone has a number. My number was 453.

Pause: 00:05 [background music]

Ibrahim Kondeh: 00:09 The world doesn’t understand that we move because of reasons we can’t handle. And people tend to follow what the media tells about migrants and refugees, seen as people that come into steal jobs, criminals. And so as a result, no one knows what our actual stories are. Positive stories can change the mindset of people that don’t know anything about the stories of migrants and refugees. I think should be told more.

Tanya Accone: 00:42 You know, what does this mean? A simple SMS tool? Can it change your life? And I think Ibrahim would say: “yes, it has.”

Claudia Edelman: 00:58 Welcome to the Global GoalsCast!

Edie Lush: 01:00 The podcast that explores how we can change the world. This episode, we will cross the Mediterranean with Ibrahim Kondeh.

Claudia Edelman: 01:07 This is the incredible second half of our special report: ‘One Migrant’s Story.’

Edie Lush: 01:12 And what a story of courage and determination. We will travel with Ibrahim as he survived a shipwreck and encounters racism as he’s never had it before and how technology transforms his life.

Claudia Edelman: 01:29 Ibrahim really got it right when he described his fellow migrants as “true heroes”… And this is our chance to share with you – the audience – what is it to be a migrant and why we think that humanizing migrants as individuals can remind us that we all belong to the same human family, which is the essential part of achieving the Global Goals.

Edie Lush: 01:51 More on all that right after this…

Pause: 01:53 [background music]

Presenter: 01:56 This episode of Global GoalsCast is brought to you by Mastercard. Mastercard is dedicated to building an inclusive world in which the digital economy works for everyone, everywhere. This episode we welcome Universal Production Music. Universal Production Music is one of the world’s leading production music companies, creating and licensing music for use in film, television, advertising, broadcast, and other media including podcasts. Thanks, also, to CBS News Digital and to Harman, the official sound of Global GoalsCast.

Pause: 02:34 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 02:42 Welcome back. I’m Claudia Romo Edelman.

Edie Lush: 02:45 And I am Edie Lush. Migration is such a powerful economic force. Claudia, I loved your line in Marie Claire last year, when you said that migration is ancient, unstoppable and positive.

Claudia Edelman: 02:57 Migration is not only ancient, unstoppable and positive but also can reduce inequality, accelerate growth and development only if it’s well managed, which is why migration was included in the Sustainable Development Goals. To start with, let’s see, global goal 10 is ‘Reduction of Inequality’ both within and among nations and to help achieve that goal 10 calls on countries, let me quote this, Edie, “To facilitate or the least safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies”, which is what the Global Compact for Migration is all about.

Edie Lush: 03:40 And as you know from our last episode, pretty much nothing about Ibrahim’s trek from, his village in, Sierra Leone to the North African coast was orderly, safe or regular. More like fate takes a hand meets the survival of the fittest. Let’s quickly recap that episode… It all started with Ibrahim’s flight from tribal initiation.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 04:06 I had to, like, fend for myself. The very first night. I slept on a stall at the Lorry Park.

Claudia Edelman: 04:15 Ibrahim’s story illustrates the plight of what the UN calls irregular migrants. Irregular being a polite way of saying outside the regular authority of police or governments.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 04:28 We were dumped in Niger. A huge number of us. Those that can afford it at that particular time had to pay again to move… we paid the traffickers about 300 or 400 US dollars to take us to Tripoli. They told us it will take us two days to reach in Tripoli, but we actually spent one week in the desert before we were able to see normal land or buildings… going through the desert you could see like fossils like remains of people that I’ve just been dumped left to dry out in the sand.

Edie Lush: 05:08 And before reaching their promised destination of Tripoli. The journey comes to an unexpected halt in Sabha that notorious hive of human trafficking.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 05:17 I couldn’t exit the gate without the permission. So he’s like, you have to work in order to pay for… like a ransom actually. So I was there for a couple of months, like working daily…

Claudia Edelman: 05:31 Like so much of Ibrahim’s journey. Faith was to play its part in the next stage…

Ibrahim Kondeh: 05:37 Every Friday, 26 people are supposed to leave. And so, one evening while they were counting, they were only 25, and so they just saw me because I was one of the youngest little boys among a group. And so they just went: come, go with them. So that was when I had to leave that place. That was the only opportunity I had to leave on that fateful evening.

Pause: 06:03 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 06:10 And this is where we rejoin Ibrahim and Daniel on a Mediterranean beach in Libya.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 06:19 At the seaside, it was fairly cold and very cold. It was in December. We had to be outside and we would get food, a loaf of bread once a day. I was there for like two weeks because we had to wait for the construction of the dingies and also the weather condition.

Pause: 06:44 [background music]

Ibrahim Kondeh: 06:44 When the time came, one evening, around 12 to 12:30 AM, on the 12th of December, they called us. 130 to 140 of us that loaded in that boat that morning.

Edie Lush: 07:03 This is a boat made for 70 people, which was crammed with nearly twice that many.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 07:10 I was the first person that’s entered because when the boat came, I was one of the people that took the boat into the water. So the others you have to walk into water that you go to at a certain height you could climb into the dingy. We were from different nationalities. There are also people from Bangladesh, from Pakistan, there were some other guys from Morocco mixed nationalities and we were packed in this boat.

Claudia Edelman: 07:39 For months, as they travel North, Ibrahim and Daniel had been inseparable, but on that chilly night, Ibrahim sat alone in the prow of the boat.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 07:52 Daniel later came in. I wasn’t able to see or talk with him. The last time I saw him was before when we were standing in the line before I took the boat to the water.

Claudia Edelman: 08:02 The traffickers said a few parting words…

Ibrahim Kondeh: 08:06 They told this that this will take us three hours to get to Italy. That was a lie. The boy that was like moving the boat, didn’t know what he was doing. He didn’t know how to use a compass and they just gave us two gallons of fuel. They say, well that will take you guys to Italy.

Edie Lush: 08:27 Separated from Daniel in an overcrowded boat.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 08:31 We were scared of talking or shouting because there was a group that we were praying not to meet. They were called the Asthma boys, a gang or rebel group that chases boats around in the water, catch them, take them to their own camp and then request for money and after these people paid and then they will load them again to continue. their journey. So that is their job, how they get their money. And then, we have the problem of the coastal guards as well, when you, are caught they take you to prison. So we couldn’t shout, we couldn’t talk to each other.

Edie Lush: 09:08 Three hour stretch turned into night and a day, jammed or choked, as Ibrahim put it into that bare seaworthy boat.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 09:18 We were choked up and some people were down, couldn’t do anything. And we came to a point where the tide of the sea was very high. So the boat was like swinging up and down. I was actually sitting in water, there was just like two long piece of board that deletes at the floor of the boat. And so because of the tides, a lot of water entered, it was really, really rough… [Ibrajim sobs]

Pause: 09:45 [background music]

Ibrahim Kondeh: 09:46 We saw them coming like in little speedboats come towards us. We were scared. We thought it’s was like this group that’s used to catch people and take them to prison. So we were scared and when they came and they asked if we have weapons or how many are we in there if there are babies with pregnant women. And so then we realized that they were people to rescue us, so everyone started shouting, crying… the boy that was steering the boat had to remove the engine and dumped it into the sea. He was scared. If they saw him, he will be arrested and accused of being the trafficker. As we were unable to go further.

Claudia Edelman: 10:40 A British rescue sheep had spotted them along with two other boatloads of migrants. The rescue workers asked Ibrahim’s boat to wait, but adrift in the tossing sea. Now without an engine waiting was easier to say than to do…

Ibrahim Kondeh: 10:56 A lot of people started becoming panicked and some guys were standing, some were shouting… and it’s become very chaotic, like, everyone was so worried and afraid. Then they came for the little children and the pregnant women, they took them out after that. They had to, like, start drawing the boat with a rope… but during that time the side where the engine was. The weight was so much down there because the waters entered and so it began to sink down. And so that was when some people decided to like jump into the sea to try to swim. The distance was long. So some of them that jumped couldn’t make it and when the boat started and like sinking. Other people were trying to rush to come to the front where at least it was a little bit higher. And that was how a lot of people lost their lives.

Pause: 11:54 [background music]

Edie Lush: 11:59 Only later, after he’d been plucked from the sinking boat and taken to the British ship, was Ibrahim able to grasp the scale of what had happened and the toll.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 12:10 When we entered the ship, there were many people inside that, people that they rescued before. On that day, we were about 600 that were rescued in that particular ship and my number was 453. Everyone has a number. My number was 453.

Claudia Edelman: 12:30 Ibrahim searched the crowded ship for Daniel…

Ibrahim Kondeh: 12:34 When entered I thought like he reached before me or he’s on his way coming or is on the other speed boat… so I started looking around the different people, I started searching… and he wasn’t there. And then I realize, yeah, he was one of the people that couldn’t make it. I wasn’t able to see him again. And then they asked us if we have any clue about the people that couldn’t come because they, they realized that some people had drowned and then that was when I started asking. I called out, I knew someone that is down there. We stayed there for a couple of minutes and then the ship had to move. I never found out officially what happened. If his body was found, I don’t know. Never had that opportunity… [Ibrahim sobs].

Pause: 13:28 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 13:40 30,000 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in the past few years. 50 to 60 of those drowned that night, including Ibrahim’s friend from childhood, Daniel…

Edie Lush: 13:56 They had come so far together. Ibrahim and Daniel were so close to their goal when tragedy hit.

Claudia Edelman: 14:09 The ship took Ibrahim and the other survivors to Italy.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 14:13 When we arrived, we were taken to the reception center in Calabria for unaccompanied minors. I was given a phone to like call my parents.

Claudia Edelman: 14:26 On a borrowed phone, Ibrahim called his mom.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 14:29 The first thing she said that she thought I was dead.

Edie Lush: 14:34 She hadn’t heard from him for nine months, which then brought the questions moms ask everywhere.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 14:40 She was like “why didn’t you call me??? I thought something bad had happened to you! I thought you are dead!” She shouted so loud that I am alive. And then she asked, “where are you?” And then I told her where I was and she was like “how did you manage to be there, what happened? You didn’t call me all this while! How are you?”.

Pause: 15:03 [background music]

Ibrahim Kondeh: 15:03 My mom doesn’t know actually all the things that I went through. I never spoke with her explaining everything. I didn’t really explain things to her because I know how she might react to hearing that because she has blood pressure and so I don’t want anything bad to happen with her health so…

Claudia Edelman: 15:27 Ibrahim was alone in a promised land where he and Daniel had dreamed of reaching together. He was 17 years old.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 15:36 When I first arrived. I never talked about my journey because everything was so hard to explain. Thinking about how we were close and what happened or what I’ve been through… Those are memories, they have been chasing me like wildfires in the dry season, I could say. It’s so hard to think about. And so… as most times, I tend not to not to actually talk about it. It’s very hard.

Pause: 16:07 [background music]

Edie Lush: 16:11 And the work was not over. Physical danger receded, but Italy brought new challenges.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 16:17 I had that thought, that imagination of how my life will be like, how am I have my… the possibility to go to school. The Europe we saw on TV was: lights everywhere, beautiful houses, high buildings, and rich people. And then, in my reception camp, it is quite different. And mainly because it was a reception camp and we were many, a lot of people have to wait for each other to go to the bathroom. There were changes that were normal. Now it was quite understanding, right? A different cultural, different environment. In fact, it was in December. I’m from West Africa, it’s very hot there. And here it was super cold, for the very first time I had to feel that. But it was normal. And um, I had to learn a new language. These were all understandable. But there was one thing that I wasn’t expecting, like going out and people actually see from a distance and then go to the other side. Once I asked why and then I was told that we were first set of people of color, with that amount of number, that has ever lived in that community. So people were really scared of us, and that really pains. There are some people who were very rude that they, that walk past you in speed. Some tend to cover their nose. So all of these things were beyond my imagination. Mental and emotionally. It’s very, very, very, very hard. There’s no proper access to help for the people living in reception centers. And sometimes if you talk they will say if you think that here is very hard, why are you here, why don’t you just stay where your home is. These are people that working in the camp. I stayed there for 11 months when I was actually supposed to be there for three months. I bought into what they told us, but I was there for 11 months, like waiting for the documentation process and I didn’t have like anything to do. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school there, because by them they said, uh, my Italian wasn’t good.

Claudia Edelman: 18:46 To most of us, a mobile phone is a gadget, but to Ibrahim, it was much more a lifeline. But first, he needed to raise the money to buy a phone. As he told Edie…

Ibrahim Kondeh: 19:00 I had no money to do that and so the people that were running the camp owns the hotel. And so what the deal is like they had to offer us a job and we would work from eight in the morning until four or five in the evening and they would pay us five euros a day! And I went.

Edie Lush: 19:21 Wow!

Ibrahim Kondeh: 19:21 Yes, five euros a day, and I worked for a complete one month in order to get 150 euros to buy myself a phone. I was so desperate to have a mobile phone because that was the only chance I could get to speak with my family.

Claudia Edelman: 19:37 But connecting with his family was only one of the benefits.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 19:41 So when I got the phone, I started like connecting to the internet, Facebook or any other social media. And also downloading apps, which I could use to learn the Italian language.

Edie Lush: 19:54 Wow. What apps did you use?

Ibrahim Kondeh: 19:57 I used Duolingo and um, several other free apps.

Claudia Edelman: 20:01 Ibrahim supplemented the Italian, he was learning on Duolingo with language classes at an adult education center. He eventually received a basic education certificate.

Edie Lush: 20:12 And with your phone you were able to use an SMS service that UNICEF is involved in, is that right?

Ibrahim Kondeh: 20:22 Yes, messenger through Facebook.

Edie Lush: 20:24 And what did you use that for?

Ibrahim Kondeh: 20:26 To ask questions, because, in the camp, the people that were running the camp couldn’t understand me that much cause I couldn’t speak Italian. So when U-Report came and told us about their platform and it told me that the questions will be answered in the language that we prefer. It was like welcoming news because I had so many questions that I wanted to know the answers to, pertaining to my documentation process and how I was living my life in that reception center.

Edie Lush: 20:58 How did it work? You had a Facebook messenger and you just started firing questions off?

Ibrahim Kondeh: 21:03 Yeah.

Edie Lush: 21:04 What were those questions?

Ibrahim Kondeh: 21:05 I sent so many messages, so many messages… on how to go for my document because the camp that I was living, they work so slowly, like, there was nothing moving. So I want you to know if I can do it myself. And then they told me that yes I can do it myself because the camp has to deal with so many other people that are seeking asylum. So then I started moving, going for my ID card, which I did by myself and so many other processes that I did by myself. So that really helped me in going through my documentation process.

Edie Lush: 21:42 Where there lawyers on the other end of your messaging service feeding information to you. Was that what was happening?

Ibrahim Kondeh: 21:48 Yes, they were lawyers that know more about how the asylum process works in Italy.

Edie Lush: 21:53 And how long after you started using the platform? Did you get documents to move on?

Ibrahim Kondeh: 22:02 Within five to six months, I was able to start receiving answers from the questions at the police office, and having appointment dates, or where to go for medical checks and um, to take ID cards.

Claudia Edelman: 22:16 And UNICEF did not just give Ibrahim a lifeline to lawyers, but also helped him get back to school.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 22:23 With the help of a lady that works at UNICEF, she sends me a link one day about this advert she saw that people are giving scholarships to young migrants and refugees that came to Italy as a minor. So I happened to apply and I was called for an interview and also the test. And I got called that I have been accepted. So presently I am doing an International Baccalaureate program, IB diploma for two years, and so I can renew my documents. I can have a student stay permit now instead of a job permit all losing my stay.

Edie Lush: 23:09 Claudia, remember Mohamed Yahya from the last episode talking about how so many migrants were chasing their dreams to Europe? Ibrahim may have left home fearing for his life, but that turned into the dream of building a different life for himself. Now, Ibrahim wants to stay and attend university in Europe, but things are far from certain. A change in government or rules for migrants could be enough to throw Ibrahim long term plans off track.

Ibrahim Kondeh: 23:37 If I was back home, my life would’ve been more stable than here because I was in school. I actually thought I’d imagine I had a great future ahead. Well here, I’ve lost so many years of school and I’m still fighting, although I could say right now on the right track trying to catch up again.

Claudia Edelman: 24:04 That SMS messaging service that Ibrahim used was part of something called U-Report. It was a big help for Ibrahim just when he needed it. Tanya Accone from UNICEF who introduced us to Ibrahim says that was the idea.

Tanya Accone: 24:22 We have a use of U-Report which is called On The Move and it really reaches out to young refugees and migrants who arrive with nothing, in this case in Italy, and it’s around how to help them at their moment of most vulnerability. They don’t know the system, they don’t know what they’re meant to do. They have no network and they’re incredibly vulnerable. They’re under 18, they feel like they cannot go to any official municipal body, or the police, or anywhere, for any help because they’re undocumented. You can imagine if you’re fleeing for your life and or you’ve been through countless situations of being transported from X to Y place, you may have lost or may never have had the right kinds of documentation that you need. So they also are not aware if they’re allowed to get any health services if they’re allowed to go to school if they’re allowed to be anywhere. Do they need to run from the police? Every time they see an official person, they have no idea what their rights are at all typically. And it’s about how can we reach and help those young people at their most vulnerable moment to claim their rights and to get them to be able to access services and to protect them. You know, what does this mean? A simple SMS tool? Can it change your life? And I think Ibrahim would say yes it has.

Edie Lush: 25:45 Not only did U-Report give Ibrahim access to guidance through the thickest of laws and rules covering migrants. This mobile phone message system gave him the opportunity to share and process some of the trauma of his journey and experiences.

Pause: 26:01 [background music]

Ibrahim Kondeh: 26:01 They made a competition for people to give out their views. It can be video, a song, whatever someone wishes to participate with. And so I had to sit down and like reflect on my journey and all the things that I have been through. There was no one that I could talk to most of the time. So I just used to write, just to free myself from that dark past that I had. So I decided to like to write upon it. And so when I shared it with them and they liked it, they said I have won! I won the competition! I was surprised that someone would like them. So that was when I started, I kept on writing.

Claudia Edelman: 26:49 Here at the Global GoalsCast we have been deeply touched by Ibrahim’s, courage, first courage, making his journey and then courage in telling the world about it. And we love his poem. An extract of that poem can be heard in our previous episode, which covers the first part of Ibrahim’s journey.

Pause: 27:08 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 27:08 Edie, this is a really touching moment for both of us, I think. A boy whose voice has never been heard, number 453, and he has this beautiful moment when he realizes that he has something to say, his story is important. His poem has been selected. I think that that’s such an incredible sense of, all of a sudden being visible.

Edie Lush: 27:43 Which is what we’re trying to do here on the Global GoalsCast. I actually felt incredibly touched that he chose to share his story with us when I still don’t think he’s ever told it to his mother and I think his mother has now listened to this podcast, so she’s also hearing some of it for the first time.

Claudia Edelman: 28:00 Wow. I actually have to admit, I would love to know if we can reach the mother of Ibrahim and let her listen to this, but hey, she has a blood pressure, right? Like I don’t know. I don’t want to think. I won’t. I won’t push that one.

Edie Lush: 28:16 Hang on. Stop press. We’ve just received a message from Ibrahim saying that his mom hasn’t yet listened to the podcast, but his brother has and he is going to play the podcast to his mom because she can’t actually use the internet yet. So…

Claudia Edelman: 28:30 Oh, that’s so amazing!

Edie Lush: 28:30 I feel like we’re connecting the dots. I feel like we’re gonna show Ibrahim’s mom what an amazing person he is. She probably already knows that though.

Claudia Edelman: 28:44 The most important part that I have realized through this journey of Ibrahim and Daniel, first of all, is that we’re all human. At the end of the day, having lost your best friend on a journey where you’re like trying to get something and all of a sudden you’re sitting down on the edge of a boat on your own, it’s such a human story. I can relate to that so dramatically, but at the same time, it stroke me how do you know like UNICEF and people like Chris Fabian inventing U-Report, you know like someone we know has been able to save someone’s life like Ibrahim. That’s amazing! And how many other technology pieces can we add to this equation to make them touch the life of someone?

Edie Lush: 29:28 Actually, I think it was your idea to have this whole season be called technology and transformation, Claudia, so well done! Because I actually think that this story is exactly that. Ibrahim was pretty much doing everything he could. This is a kid with grit, with resilience, with real courage and actually a lot of bravery and a little bit of bravado possibly to make him get across Africa, but it was a really tough grind until he gets that mobile phone. And that mobile phone was able to transfer that grit and resilience and that human intelligence into stuff that actually changed his life. Helping him get a health card, helping him find out about scholarships to an incredible school in Italy and helping him now go back to school when he had to flee all those years ago. It is incredible. It is a story of our times. That’s what I really love about the story of Ibrahim.

Claudia Edelman: 30:27 But overall like the transformation of technology. I can see it now out working on, for example, all their spaces just like not life-threatening, but also access to Latinas. Edie, Latinas have a huge issue with that technology being a friend or a frenemy when it comes to having access to capital. So Latinos create six times faster than any other group in America, small businesses. And so they start a little kitchen, they start a little business here, but they don’t scale out for more than two or three employees. And that is because we don’t have access to capital, we don’t have a credit history, we don’t have financial literacy. All of those issues can be solved by technology. So Ibrahim’s life and the Latina life who wants to scale up and none of us want to be that entrepreneur. You know, like becoming an employer, having 100 employees is all through technology. I think that in the next decade of action that we’re going to starting 2020, I think that technology has to be the center of everything we’re doing so that we can really achieve the Global Goals.

Edie Lush: 31:34 And I’m so inspired by actually listening to the stories from a lot of our partners from the World Food Programme, from UNICEF, from UNDP of how they’ve all started their own innovation centers and startups almost for entrepreneurs and they are putting technology in the hands of those people who need it but also who can transform their own lives.

Claudia Edelman: 31:55 The one thing that pisses me off dramatically is that we did an episode on migration at the time of the launch of the Global Compact for Migration and that was 2000 what was it? 17! And nevertheless, the conversation was the same we have to humanize the stories of the people. Migration is positive, ancient, and unstoppable. We need to understand migration as opposed to fear it. And here we are, Edie, two years after, one Brexit about to happen, the break of Europe through migration. You know like countries and countries divided by fear, migration being the biggest enemy and the elephant in the room. And yet we still haven’t made a lot of progress. It seems to be stagnant, if not more. I think that we should get every one of our listeners to do something. Think about someone that they know on a paid tribute to a migrant be someone you know in your close family or someone else. The way that we’re trying to do it here because I think that if we’re going to ever break the cycle, we have to do this together and if humanizing migration is the story, then we have to all be part of the solution.

Edie Lush: 33:05 By encouraging our listeners to do that, we can show how the power of technology and social media can break barriers. Tanya Accone at UNICEF has also told us that there are plans to expand this U-Report. 10 agencies across five countries are now moving to launch a version as part of the response to the upheavals in Venezuela. And that’s a great segue to this episode’s facts and actions from Mathias Devi. He’s using innovation specialist at UNICEF’s Office of Innovation. Mathias manages the Global U-Reports platform that has had such a positive impact for Ibrahim

Mathias Devi: 33:44 Fact number one, refugees are a wildly diverse group. Even those coming from the same country. I think this is often forgotten or people are surprised when you mentioned that you’ve sat down and spoke to a doctor, an Instagram influencer, and a member of an indigenous people on the same day. So the word refugee quickly refers to a stereotype, negative stereotype. And I think this is a good fact to keep in mind when speaking about refugees and migration issues. The second fact, knowing that Ibrahim has shared his story on this podcast, is that his story is just one in many and just like Ibrahim, the many children like him want to go to school. This is in fact repeatedly the single most important thing that young people raise when we speak with them through our youth engagement platform – U report. But more than 30 million children are displaced around the world. Who commonly lose between one to four years of school. And that’s a fact. Thirdly, trust is key. This may be more of a perceived effect than a hard fact, but I have experienced over and over again in this work. The trust is so important. Refugees are rarely looking for luxury, but for life, they can rely on, stable access to school, access to reliable services, trustworthy information about their situation. This is exactly what U-Report On the Move is trying to deliver. Reliable information about your situation and the place you’re in, advice in your legal status, referrals to accessible services and so on.

Pause: 35:11 [background music]

Mathias Devi: 35:13 So the first action you can take personally is to remember what a refugee is and what a refugee is not. Retire that stereotypical review of refugees and speak about these issues in the constructive solution-oriented way around the dinner table and in your daily interactions with people. Secondly, support youth to speak up and hear them. Whatever you’re working on, whatever you’re designing, whatever you’re promoting. Remember that 1.8 billion people in your potential audience are children and youth and that 90% of these live in developing countries. This group has lots to say and listening can both improve your work and their lives massively. Lastly, looping these points back into U-Report. I’d like to say that U-Report as a tool for all youth to raise their voices, battle stereotypes, connecting youth to services on a global scale. We’re currently operating in 65 countries with more than 8.5 million users growing by a quarter million users every month. The key to providing ever greater services and reaching more youth is partnerships. We currently have more than 350 partners worldwide, but if you are listening to this and think your company, agency, NGO, the local youth group has something to offer and want to get involved either at a country-specific level or at global level, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Edie Lush: 36:37 Thanks to Mathias Devi for those facts and actions and thanks to Ibrahim for sharing his story.

Pause: 36:41 [background music]

Claudia Edelman: 36:45 Thanks for listening. Please like us. Subscribe via iTunes or whatever you get your podcasts, and follow us on social media @GlobalGoalsCast. See you next time. Bye-bye.

Edie Lush: 36:56 Adios.

Presenter: 37:01 Global GoalsCast was hosted by Edie Lush and Claudia Romo Edelman. We are editorial gurued by Mike Oreskes, editing and sound production by Simon James. Our operations director is Michelle Cooprider and our interns Tina Pastore and Brittney Segura. Music, in this episode, was courtesy of Universal Production Music, original music by Neil Hale, Angelica Garcia, Simon James, Kaity Crone, and Andrew Phillips. This episode is brought to you by Mastercard, creating scalable solutions for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Thanks. Also, CBS News Digital and Harman, the official sound of Global GoalsCast.