The discontinuity in our lives triggered by the CoVid pandemic creates a unique peacetime opportunity to recalibrate our priorities, reconsider our possibilities, and reconfigure our politics, economies and business models.

The Impact Trust’s Conversations at the Crossroads series offers an accessible public platform that seeks to explore and reflect the experiences (good and bad), the potential of the time we’re in and the impact of decisions we make moving forward.

We believe there is a moment to co-create a shared narrative that collectively determines what is worth holding on to and what we can let go. With a commitment to an open, inclusive society, this conversation series strives to engage and reflect the diversity of views, voices and experiences that may support, design, create, contest, challenge and regenerate a common future from our collective stories of meaning-making.

In this Prologue to the first conversation of the series, Dr Gary Kendall will set the scene by sharing some thought provoking perspectives on the trouble with the perception of the “pandemic as an event” and highlight why our collective reluctance to reconceptualise paradigms commits us to a future of growing systemic risk. The conversation will be moderated by Dr Gerry Salole.

Participants are invited to engage, support and drive the direction of discussion with their authentic and thoughtful contributions.

This week’s speaker biographies

Dr Gary Kendall has been working at the intersection of business strategy and sustainability for more than a decade. Prior to joining Nedbank in 2013, he was Deputy Director at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and previously served as Executive Director at SustainAbility in London, where he advised numerous blue-chip organisations on how to strengthen their business strategies with enhanced systems intelligence.

Gary’s career in sustainable development began when he joined WWF International’s Climate & Energy team in 2006. Gary is the author of the WWF publication on electromobility titled “Plugged In”. He has a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Liverpool and has held a season ticket with Liverpool FC since 1991.

Dr Gerry Salole is the Chief Executive of the European Foundation Centre (EFC) since 2005. The EFC is an association of over 200 public-benefit foundations and corporate funders active in philanthropy in Europe and elsewhere. His previous posts have included serving as Representative at the Ford Foundation’s Southern Africa office, based in Johannesburg, and Director of the Department of Programme Documentation and Communication of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, based in The Hague. He has also worked for Save the Children Federation (USA) in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, and Redd Barna (Norwegian Save the Children) and OXFAM UK and UNHCR in Ethiopia.

Gerry studied Social Anthropology and African History at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He holds an M.A. (Econ.) and Ph.D. from the University of Manchester. Gerry sits on the board of the Impact Trust, the Advisory Board of the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition (Parma), the Supervisory Board of the European Cultural Foundation (Amsterdam), The Board of the Firelight Foundation (Palo Alto) and the Advisory Board of the African Centre for Philanthropy and Social Investment (Johannesburg).

“If you think about this question of “What’s next?”, in no trivial way, what’s next is what we make of it. What we are able to convince others of, what we are able to do, what we are able to show. The morals we set, the ethical examples that we give. These things are passed on to others through global continuous engagement. That’s why the battle of ideas has to be joined, that’s why being on the side-lines is no longer an option for any of us. That’s why we have to engage because if we don’t, others will drive the agenda. We have a responsibility to create the world we want.”

Ian Goldin, SACC presentation 2018