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Being Fiercely Compassionate - Lessons from the Skoll World Forum 2016

What differentiates a social entrepreneur from the average entrepreneur? Fierce Compassion according to this year’s Skoll World Forum. The ability to (fiercely) refuse and resist crisis combined with a compassion towards those that feel the consequences of issues such as climate change and don’t hold responsibility for it are drivers for the social entrepreneur. It’s about standing for something bigger than yourself and being unrelenting in that.

Social justice played heavily in this year’s plenary session as both COP and the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals provided the backdrop. The momentum for change and urgency that now’s the time to make a positive shift possible was firmly in the air. Why aim for a 2 degree climatic shift when what we really need is a 1.5 degree mindset? Shouldn’t we be fiercer about achieving the types of change we know we need?

Three questions were raised as the definers of our time: Do we really have to change? Can we change? Will we change? There was never doubt to the answer to the first two questions - the room was filled with expectation and hope. The answer to the third is more complicated. Social entrepreneurs can go some way in bringing about change however, initiatives tend to result in single point impact, tackling one issue in one geography. Do we have the time to wait? The business case for transformation was set out simply - storms/ floods/ drought/ fires are no longer going to be insurable as they increase in numbers and unpredictability. The financial services sector has raised the alarm bells. Mainstreaming Fierce Compassion is needed!

It’s hard to hear Mary Robinson, Jeff Skoll and Al Gore speak and not be inspired. They reflect how Fierce Compassion needs to permeate further through the different elements of our society - politicians and governments and the business community in order to make a difference at the scale that’s needed. The reality is, we will have to change. We will need to adapt and transform our consumption patterns, the way that we use oil and the way that we live. Being fiercely compassionate in the way that we go about it sounds about right.


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