On June 17th 2011, His Holiness the Dalai Lama joined 700 Brisbane business and community leaders in a luncheon addressing values and leadership, environmental thinking and the action required. This event was presented by Dalai Lama in Australia Ltd and was proudly hosted by Green Cross Australia. Our thanks to Network Ten for supporting the luncheon, and to Sandra Sully for graciously hosting.
A panel of sustainability leaders joined the Dalai Lama to share their own personal leadership experiences with the audience.
Below Green Cross Director Blair Palese shares her reflections on the importance of His Holiness's comments in light of heightened sustainability debates. After her comments, we share insights by Green Cross volunteers about each of the Panelists' inspiring contributions.
Attending the Green Cross lunch with the Dalai Lama was an amazing opportunity to hear about environmental leadership and to share the experience with others working on these critical issues. The Dalai Lama is impressive not only for what he says, but for what he doesn't say - he is clear and simple in his thinking and his message.
What I took away from the Dalai Lama's talk was his directness about what we all need to do: "There is only one 'blue planet'. Though there may well be life elsewhere, we only have this planet for now and so we must work to protect it."
As a woman, I was also grateful that the Dalai Lama talked about the important role that women can play as leaders. As His Holiness said, "Women are more biologically compassionate. Hence leadership from women in this age is increasingly important."
Having worked on environmental issues for more than 20 years, my sense is that many women are afraid to step up to leadership roles in the environmental arena. The Dalai Lama spoke of women as nurturers and said that this kind of nurturing leadership is now more important than ever.
His discussion of good leadership as authentic, transparent and something that builds trust was also very helpful. At a time when we are struggling in Australia to find solutions to many of our problems, this kind of leadership often seems lacking. It is these qualities we will need to seek out and support if we are going to succeed.
The Dalai Lama extended his sympathy to the Brisbane audience for this year's tragic severe weather events. He invited leaders to take the opportunity to rebuild our communities in better ways, noting that some areas are not as susceptible to flooding as others (such as the mountains of Tibet where, he reminded us with a wink, it never floods!).
Finally, the Dalai Lama's talk of the interconnectedness of the world and the importance of thinking as much about others as ourselves was a wonderful insight. Our failure at global conferences such as the Copenhagen climate change talks is evidence of our inability to think beyond our own nation's needs. But he said our task was clear: "We are all contributing to global warming...it's the responsibility of the whole world to address it."
After the Dalai Lama's talk, I was equally impressed by the panel who spoke of their own ideas on environmental leadership, including the founder of Wotif Graeme Wood, Young Queenslander of the year Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Deloitte Digital CEO Peter Williams. They were inspiring.
It was a great privilege to be in the company of such innovators and I'll be keeping the insights I took away close to heart as I continue my work to help find solutions to address global climate change.
And now below is our vote of thanks from Green Cross volunteers to the leadership Panel which brought the Dalai Lama's messages close to home:
Graeme Wood, Founder & Executive Director, Wotif.com Holdings Limited, one of Australia's most successful and well-known online businesses prominent environmental philanthropist:
""When someone asked Graeme Wood what drives him (to establish the Global Change Institute, Wild Mob and his various other philanthropic and entrepreneurial endeavours) he said simply 'I got tired of seeing dumb decisions being made.' This was heartening to hear - such a simple, pragmatic call to action. For a man adorned with many an accolade, Graeme spoke humbly and without bravado. Thank you!"
- Kate Cranney, Graduate Policy Officer, Department of Environment and Resource Management.
Yassmin Abdel-Magied, 2011 Young Queenslander of the Year, Founder Youth Without Borders, mechanical engineering student at University of Queensland and Formula 1 lover:
"Yassmin is an incredible, mature leader. I was impressed with her ability to command the audience with passion and integrity. She demonstrates the power of youth leadership."
- Lisa Wilhelmseder, Geospatial environmental engineering specialist
Allan English - Founder and Non executive Chairman, Silver Chef, and core supporter of Opportunity International and Karuna Hospice:
"Allan's inspiration is that he lives his company's values. He understands the need to provide positive messages on an everyday basis with his staff. He not only has good core values, he reinforces them. His company lives by its values, and management and staff interact around them. As the Dalai Lama said, its all about honesty and this builds trust."
- Jeremy Mansfield, Sustainability Manager Queensland, Lend Lease
Peter Williams, CEO Deloitte Digital, developer of innovative disaster recovery online initiatives supporting Black Saturday and Queensland disaster impacted communities.
"Pete tells it how it is, in plain language and with passion - he spoke about taking action in Flowerdale, especially disseminating information quickly and effectively through social media, during the bushfires and throughout the recovery period afterwards. He also spoke about the importance of the community taking action for themselves and I think that is a really powerful thing to remind and empower people to be part of their world, instead of being passive observers."
- Margaret Lipinska, Creative Director, Zeroseven Internet Solutions
"Positive action begins with study, learning and understanding. Steve Killelea inspired me to always strive for knowledge, for without conviction of what we know, we cannot do anything well."
- Jessica Davis, Bond University student doing work experience with Green Cross Australia
Finally a word of thanks to Brett Godfrey, Green Cross Director and Founder of Virgin Blue. Brett closed this event with typical humour and insight, sharing a story about how the Dalai Lama gave him the best pat his head has ever received.
"We are so grateful that Brett has been involved on the Green Cross Board since the early days of Mikhail Gorbachev's visit to Brisbane and our founding. Brett brings that special touch of a successful entrepreneur that has built thriving cultures with passionate people. He has earned the respect and admiration of the Brisbane community."
- Mara Bun, CEO, Green Cross Australia