India CSR Lifetime Achievement Award winner receives Honorary Fellowship award at world congress

Honorary fellowship recipient calls for climate change action before it is too late

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NEW DELHI: Prof Colin Coulson-Thomas, winner of India CSR’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award was presented with an Honorary Fellowship of India’s Institute of Directors (IOD) in a ceremony at the end of the second day of the 20th World Congress on Environment Management and Climate Change. The presentation was made by Lt Gen J S Ahluwalia PVSM the President of IOD which organises this annual event.

The professor’s plenary talk on the first day of the congress on the theme of “Transformational Board Leadership for Sustainability” was his 50th speech or presentation to an international conference, world congress or global convention organised by the IOD. He was presented with a framed certificate of his membership as an Honorary Fellow and also prepared conclusions and recommendations. The congress was held in the Sovereign Hall of the Hotel Le Méridien, New Delhi, India. The theme of the 2018 event was Transformational Leadership for Promoting Climate Resilient Economic Growth.

The world congress is one of five annual international events organised by India’s Institute of Directors and for which Prof Coulson-Thomas provides theme papers. Over 550 delegates attended and they were addressed by speakers from IFAD, the United Nations and World Bank and from Finland, India, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Qatar, Singapore, Spain, UAE, UK and US.

In another ceremony on the second day Prof Coulson-Thomas signed an IOD-IMS MOU in his role as President of the Institute of Management Services. He said “I cannot imagine another institute anywhere in the world that I would rather be a member of. Since its formation over 25 years ago IOD has led in so many fields, initiating conferences on topics long before they topped boardroom agendas. It is also a loyal MOU partner and I look forward to many years of future collaboration.”

At the congress Coulson-Thomas questioned, “Should it be onwards and upwards in terms of output, growth and development, or are we working towards our own downfall? Are we storing up problems that might overwhelm future generations? Are we putting sticking plasters on the wounds we are causing, rather than letting in fresh air and fresh thinking? Are some directors and boards the problem rather than part of the solution? Are incremental improvements merely reducing the environmental damage being done? Might we need to accept lower growth rates in order to achieve a more sustainable, simpler and healthier lifestyle?”

Coulson-Thomas’ conclusions challenge directors, “Do you have the courage to reinvent and lead your companies in a new direction? Will you champion the adoption of new and more sustainable business models and lifestyles? Do you view the sharing economy as a threat or do you see it as an arena of opportunity in which with the right business model you could build a new global business that is more valuable than your current one?”

Coulson-Thomas argues that directors should question and probe: “Electric cars may sound great, but where will all the lithium for the batteries come from? What about the emissions from the power stations that generate the electricity? What about disposal of the batteries and used solar panels?” He believes: “The cost, disruption and pain of delaying the business, economic and social transformation we need are likely to rise exponentially. Many boards need to be faster and more flexible in responding to challenges and opportunities.”

The professor believes: “Directors need to think “circular economy” and consider the life cycle impacts of corporate offerings. Sustainability discussions need to embrace supply chains. More thought should be given to technological solutions to pollution and climate change issues. Reinvention and changes of direction are required. While one has a directorial role it is never too late to exert transformational leadership. Do it now so that in future you will have few regrets. Do it while you can still exert influence and have a beneficial impact.”

Prof. (Dr) Colin Coulson-Thomas, President of the Institute of Management Services and chairman of Adaptation, has helped directors in over 40 countries to improve director, board and corporate performance. In addition to directorships he leads the International Governance Initiative of the Order of St Lazarus, is Director-General, IOD India, UK and Europe, chair of United Learning’s Risk and Audit Committee, Chancellor at the School for the Creative Arts, Honorary Professor at the Aston India Foundation for Applied Research, a Distinguished Professor at the Sri Sharada Institute of Indian Management-Research and a Visiting Professor of Direction and Leadership at Lincoln International Business School.

An experienced chairman of award winning companies and vision holder of successful transformation programmes, Colin is the author of over 60 books and reports. He has held public appointments at local, regional and national level and professorial appointments in Europe, North and South America, Africa, the Middle East, India and China. He was educated at the London School of Economics, London Business School, UNISA and the Universities of Aston, Chicago and Southern California. He is a fellow of seven chartered bodies and obtained first place prizes in the final exams of three professions. Details of his most recent books and reports can be found on: policypublications.com

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