Attending the World Forum on Natural Capital in Edinburgh in 2015 thanks to receiving a bursary from conference organizers delivered networking opportunities which would be unimaginable in Australia. It has also allowed me to elevate the status of my work on natural capital with my current employer and international peers in academia. This was particularly evident after winning the Best PhD Paper Award at an international organizational studies conference for research based on de-coupling organizational value from natural capital consumption, something I attribute in part to specific research I was exposed to at the World Forum.
Apart from pursuing my research, it was important to me to raise awareness of the importance of natural capital for business in Australia. Since my fortunate attendance at the 2015 conference I have sought to do so through my position and contacts at The University of Queensland Business School. I’m constantly pleased and surprised at how easily the next generation of managers understand the topic and the critical importance of its integration into business decision making through my teaching in the Masters of Business program.
However, as an impatient millennial, I wanted to reach the current generation of managers in Australia making decisions on a daily basis which affect our natural capital as well. A chance encounter at the World Forum with the internationally renowned Australian author Dr Jane Gleeson-White led to the creation of an event also featuring the world expert on Environmental Accounting, Carl Obst. Together they presented a powerhouse team to challenge the thinking and ideas of more than 50 Executive MBA students and alumni of The University of Queensland Business School at an aptly named Think & Drink session. Both idealistic and pragmatic, this event uncovered the eagerness of current business executives in Australia to embrace and apply the concept of natural capital and to imagine a world where accounting systems adapt to integrate natural capital, among other capitals, into the operations of businesses, indeed shifting the business environment and wealth of organizations.
As the number one ranked MBA program in Australia and the Asia Pacific region (as ranked by The Economist) and a business school who seeks to "Challenge the Future", creating an awareness of natural capital among students and alumni of the UQ Business School MBA program, far from the hub of activity on the topic in Europe, is an achievement I hope is worthy of the opportunity I was given to attend such an exceptional event.
If you seek to make a difference, the unparalleled networking opportunities and access to the latest research from around the world at the World Forum for Natural Capital can genuinely provide the opportunity to make that difference happen. This is a global issue requiring global solutions, therefore I recommend any aspiring natural capital expert from anywhere in the world to attend the World Forum and contribute to Better Decisions for a Better World.
Cristyn Meath is a Lecturer and PhD Candidate at the University of Queensland Business School in Brisbane, Australia.
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