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Michael Hayman: Could our entrepreneurs stop the clock on climate change?

Michael Hayman on how entrepreneurs can lead the battle against climate change, in his column for Country & Town House

‘The best way to predict the future is to create it,’ was the wise advice from Abraham Lincoln and it still stands as a good motto for any business person. We should be encouraged that entrepreneurs are increasingly seen as the disruptive dreamers who can create the innovation necessary for solutions for climate change.

It’s this impetus that’s behind The Earthshot Prize, created by the Duke of Cambridge as ‘the most ambitious and prestigious [award] of its kind’. It is ‘designed to incentivise change and help to repair our planet over the next ten years.’

The prize was inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s ‘Moonshot’, his clarion call in the 1960s to put a man on the moon. It proved that technology and innovation can make the impossible, possible. Fast forward to today and the stakes are indescribably higher. We are, as it has been wisely said, the first generation to truly understand the damage of climate change and also the last that can do anything about it. It’s perhaps why Earthshot has set itself until 2030 to make the difference.

The good news is that the energy of the world’s entrepreneurs has accelerated massively, because the world needs sustainable living solutions to guarantee our planet for generations to come. And we need our innovators to find new ways of doing this while ensuring that we don’t just stop the clock on the way that we live, work and play.

It’s a big task but one that plays to the innate spirit of ambition in a new generation of business leaders who wants to make a difference and be a force for good. And while Earthshot takes its inspiration from a US President, it’s from a First Lady that we might find the high notes needed to capture the necessary mood.

After the death of her husband in 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt would tell reporters, ‘the story is over’. On that she was untypically wrong. Within a year she began her service as American spokesperson in the United Nations. Perhaps just one of the reasons why she believed that ‘the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dream’. It is this dream of better days, that for our entrepreneurs means the future is theirs to play for.

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Chapter 1 outlines the concept of mission and how the breakthrough brands of today have succeeded by building a mission that inspires belief, generates a following and instils a purpose beyond profit.