If environmentalists are the new rock stars then Tim Smit, the Founder of the Eden Project and Jonathon Porritt of the Forum for the Future are the Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton of their industry.
Delegates were very privileged to listen to both on the second morning of the Symposium.
Both Jonathon and Tim spoke powerfully and with humour on the subject of the language of the environmental movement. Tim in particular, used some spicy language of his own in highlighting the challenge we face.
He said: “Most of us in the environmental movement have a love for horror movies. We are only truly happy when there is imminent disaster on the horizon. We are generally very bad company around the dinner table.”
The solution, he said, was to create an exciting new narrative thread that gets everyone involved in the future. People need to feel involved in the developments around them.
“We need to create a dream where other people imagine the roles they can play. The difficult skill of all is listening. My life has been transformed by listening.”
He concluded that the only people who get things changed for the better are those that are prepared to be “unreasonable” to get their way.
Jonathon Porritt is undoubtedly one of the finest speakers in the world. Delegates at the Six Senses Symposium responded positively to his message that the wider community had to be brought into the debate on sustainable tourism and travel. It simply isn’t good enough, Jonathon said, to insulate holidaymakers from the communities that live in tourist hotspots.
“When we talk about the solutions agenda we tend to put that to one side, and focus on familiar territory on what we do on water, waste, energy etc and pull back from those socioeconomic aspects. We can’t really afford to do that.”
Sonu Shivdasani, the CEO of Six Senses, who has already taken steps to help guests at Soneva Fushi engage with the local community, welcomed his remarks.
At the heart of Jonathon’s thesis is the requirement that the natural assets that are employed by the tourism industry have to be made available for the benefit of local communities as well.
“Tourism in the Maldives just doesn’t rely on the natural assets – it needs the human assets as well,’ he said.
And then President Nasheed arrived… We shall keep that for tomorrow’s update.