Letter from Beijing: disasters, opportunities and inspiration

On 10/12/2013 by Site Default

From choking air pollution and corruption to the scaling up of the green agenda, Simon Zadek reflects on his year in China.

“Scale is the ‘unreasonable challenge’ we must meet to drive forward sustainability“, I argued in Guardian Sustainable Business almost a year ago.

Five days later, taking my own advice to heart, I decamped with my family to Beijing in search of those elusive leverage opportunities to make a difference. One year later, late night on the 23 December 2013, after delivering the final “business performance and sustainability” module at Tsinghua School of Economics and Management, I will head to the airport, bound for Europe. Time for some brief reflections on my one-year intensive engagement in Beijing.

China has affected me as it has many others before me – it’s startling, exhilarating, ambition-raising, exhausting, depressing and profoundly confusing. Being part of tomorrow’s history through Chinese eyes has been a trip worth making, from views of Japan’s habitual aggression to Chinese frustration over perceptions of its African safaris. I am without doubt energised and re-focused by riding history rather than facing its tidal wave.

My timing turned out to be great, as real-time disasters, opportunities and inspiration has over 2013 ripped through China’s political economy. China’s Third Plenum this November has set the course for its rise over the next decade, an inflection point that is likely to move China from its current position as re-emergent late-comer to one of global leader in modern times. More dazzling has been the spectacle of Beijing’s air pollution, peaking in a yellow fog on 8 January, five days after arriving here, measured at 32 times the safe level recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Read more here: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/blog/letter-beijing-disasters-opportunities-inspiration?CMP=twt_gu

Smog in China - 08 Dec 2013

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