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29 September 2015

Dream Week
By Richard Edelman

Written by: Richard Edelman, President and CEO at Edelman


The past two days in New York City have been the stuff of dreams. I sat with the top environmental official from the French Government yesterday morning to discuss the COP21 in Paris in December. I was invited to the Fortune Magazine CEO dinner for Prime Minister Narendra Modi last night. I then went to the premiere of the film on Malala, for whom Edelman has done pro bono PR for the past three years. And to cap it off, I have just been to see Pope Francis at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Here is a quick report on each of these events.

The French minister, Laurence Tubiana, was clear in her assessment of COP21. She said that domestic policy is the key to the successful implementation of any global goals. She believes in the private sector and local government coming to the fore in 2016 to bring the targets within reach. There is no way to force countries to comply, but with proper transparency on progress toward the goals, the proper pressure will be exerted from the various stakeholders. There will be large investment needed to achieve the goals, especially in energy intensive industries such as cement and chemicals. She was clear that it is up to each country to decide its own energy mix to achieve the goals, from nuclear to renewables to carbon-based. I found her realistic, well organized and business friendly.

The Indian Prime Minister met with 50 CEOs and listened patiently to criticism of excessive regulation and red tape, slow bureaucracy, a crazy quilt of rules between states and the federal government, the protectionism streak and lack of IP protection. He gave a fifteen minute talk concluding with a definitive statement that this is India’s time. He said he wants to reform governance for speed, to simplify government processes to ensure transparency and accountability. He was clear that government should not be in business. He sees three sectors: Private; Public; and Personal. He envisages one third of the economy in agriculture, one third in services and one third in industrial. He intends to push for exports, to improve infrastructure at the ports and the roads from the internal parts of the nation. He will harmonize India’s laws, especially with the global standard. I found him deeply persuasive and committed to change.

The movie premiere was a lovely end to the evening. Malala was especially engaging in the non-scripted parts. She asked the film director how he could stand her brothers… who always make life a challenge for her… and made faces when the director said he really liked the boys. She was so clear both in the film and in her comments that her dad was the most important person in her life but that she had to forge her own way, whatever the outcome. I would highly recommend the film, especially for teens.

Pope Francis’ visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum was deeply moving and brilliantly orchestrated. The opening remarks by Cardinal Dolan focused on the melting pot that is New York City, the horror of the day of 9/11 and the determination to rebuild. He was followed by representatives of Judaism, Buddhism, Hindu, Islam and Christianity. Pope Francis made two comments that resonated with me. Having just met the children and widows of firefighters and police, he said, “Destruction is never impersonal or abstract; it is not about things. It has a face and it has names. The families of these first responders showed me the face of pain that screams to heaven. But they also showed me the face of love and remembrance.” The Pontiff looked at the diverse religious leaders behind him and noted, “We have been invited to say no to making us all the same. We must accept our differences.”

Those of us in PR have an important role to play in helping to explain these issues of tolerance, environment, and innovation, to volunteer as possible and to make connections for clients to causes.

This article originally appeared on 6A.M., Richard Edelman’s blog on trends in communications, issues, lessons and insights.

Image by United Nations Photo.

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