Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Take Me Higher

A personal highlight for me in the first part of 2011 will be helping to choose the Hillary Institute of International Leadership’s annual laureate, in my capacity as a member of the Hillary Summit, the Institute’s governing Board.

The Institute was launched in 2007 to honor Sir Edmund Hillary, the inspirational New Zealander who became the first person to summit Mount Everest in 1953 with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. As well as conquering the world’s tallest peak and undertaking many other expeditions around the world, Sir Edmund’s life was distinguished by his environmental and humanitarian work, which made a profound difference for the Sherpa people in Nepal.

In that pioneering spirit, the Institute keeps a global watch list of exceptional leaders who are mid-career and blazing an inspirational path in a critical leadership area. Once a year it names a laureate and every four years it awards the Hillary Step, a USD$100,000 prize named after the almost vertical 40-foot cliff-face that was the final hurdle for Hillary and Norgay in their conquest of Everest.

For 2008-2012 the Hillary Institute is focused on recognizing, rewarding and nurturing leaders in the area of Climate Change Solutions. The first laureate was social entrepreneur, author and renewable energy champion Jeremy Leggett (below, left), who is leading change by example through his solar energy company Solarcentury, and charity SolarAid.

The second laureate was Peggy Liu (below, right), Chair of the Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE). JUCCCE is a Non-Profit organization dedicated to visibly changing the way that China creates and uses energy, making a critical contribution to global sustainability.

Climate change is a high mountain to climb, but as Sir Ed once said it’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. To make a difference everyone will have to play their part, and inspirational leadership will be essential.