features global problem-solving podcast

Category: Environment & Sustainability | NGOs & Government
Published on Feb 22, 2010 has a little write up of my conversation with Dave Witzel and Jerry Michalski earlier today. The post on does a decent job of capturing the main thesis, but the conversation itself covered more ground, including some reflections on the changing roles of business, government and individual citizens in addressing environmental problems and a discussion about how social innovations that reach across borders and cultures will challenge traditional conceptions of democracy. The recording should be available on the EDF website soon.

Whatever epithet you prefer — a  “shameful, monumental failure” or “BrokenHagen” — the outcome of December’s climate negotiations in Denmark was a pretty bleak testimonial to the ability of nations to cooperate on any issue, let alone one as pressing as climate change.

But Anthony Williams, co-author of Wikinomics, argues that a collective faith in global bureaucracies and nations’ competing self-interests was probably misguided in the first place. As Williams put it in a call hosted by the Environmental Defense Fund today, given an “absence of effective leadership in government and business,” the real challenge is to find the social innovations that work and scale them up.

To be sure, Williams is careful to note that there’s definitely an important role for both government and big business to play.As he says, there’s a growing consensus around the fact that corporations need to be judged by a broader metric of success — and as Nathaniel wrote this morning, there’s also an increasing awareness that corporate social engagement can and should involve skill and capacity transfers, as well as traditional philanthropy. . .

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