Nov 09 2006
Environment and Business in the 21st Century
By Tom Burke
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On the 9th November 2006, E3G’s Tom Burke gave the annual Barclay Foundation Lecture at Templeton College, Oxford.
Speaking on the topic of ‘Environment and Business in the 21st Century: Risks, Rewards and Responses’ Tom laid out his assessment of the challenge facing businesses and governments as they seek to tackle the hard politics of the environment.
An edited version of Tom’s speech was featured in the winter 2007 edition of the Templeton College Newsletter. The full text of Tom’s speech follows below, and is also attached in pdf format for download.
Environment and Business in the 21st Century: Risks, Rewards and Responses.
The Evelyne and Clifford H Barclay Foundation Lecture, Templeton College, Oxford.
Address by Mr Tom Burke CBE, 9th November 2006.
Let me begin by thanking Michael Earl and Stephen Barclay for the invitation to address you this evening. This was a completely unexpected honour and not one for which I am well prepared by prior experience. John Templeton exhorted us to ‘work at being a humble person’. Following in the footsteps of such distinguished previous lecturers as Eddie George and Charles Handy means I am not finding that so hard to do this evening.
I am better prepared to live up to one of his other precepts as ‘one who, according to the customs of his time, might be branded a heretic’. More than thirty years working as an environmentalist have made me rather familiar with the theory and practise of heresy. But there have been many over those years who sought assiduously to bring me back to whatever they conceived of as the true faith.
This has meant that I have received a rather superior education as leading figures in many walks of life went out of their way make sure that I fully understood the workings of their institution or profession. It has also paved the way for a somewhat chequered career – though that might be far too organised a word for my rather erratic passage through the environmental NGOs, government and business.