Tina Pastore

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

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“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

Transcript

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

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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

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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. 

Prior to joining UNICEF, Accone worked in the private sector. She was part of the team that first took The Washington Post digital, and has launched technology businesses across sub-Saharan Africa. 

Accone is a Fulbright Fellow with multiple graduate degrees including in Studies of the Future. She is the fourth-generation of her Chinese family to be born in South Africa, where she spent her childhood on the outskirts of Tshwane. 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

Transcript

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