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Leadership on the Edge - by Zornitza Hadjitodorova
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Leadership on the Edge - by Zornitza Hadjitodorova

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"They say the worst part of a beautiful dream is when it is over. The best part is when you realize that that dream just transformed your world and marked the beginning of an inspiration for a lifetime.

Early this year I was given the exceptional honor to participate in the first of its kind Renewable Energy Expedition to Antarctica. In March 2011 I then joined a team of 27 senior environmental experts from across the world. Those were leaders from organizations like Shell, the Asian power house CLP Group, Duke Energy, National Geographic, Lokheed Martin, Newscorp, US Green Building Council, and EPA among others. This consortium of like minded people got together not only to witness Antarctica but to share their own contribution to global sustainability development and write the first Corporate Sustainability Report from Antarctica.

The two-week expedition was organized by 2041 and led by ACORE, American Council on Renewable Energy. 2041 was founded by polar explorer, environmental leader and public speaker Robert Swan, OBE, the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles. Swan has dedicated his life to the preservation of Antarctica by promoting recycling, renewable energy and sustainability to combat the effects of climate change. Human activities in Antarctica are governed by an international agreement known as the Antarctic Treaty System, established in 1959. This unique international agreement ensures that Antarctica is used for peaceful purposes only and that the environment is protected. Currently there is a moratorium in place called the Environmental Protocol that bans drilling or mining in Antarctica. This document can be reviewed after its 50-year anniversary in 2041. As that year quickly approaches, Robert Swan’s goal is to ensure that the young people and leaders of today make sustainable decisions for tomorrow.

As our group stood in awe before the remnants of the Larsen B ice shelf (see image below), camped on snow beside seals and penguins, dove in sub-zero waters, and hiked volcanoes, we quickly realized that even though we were confined on a ship with strangers, we were part of an exceptionally supportive environment with an incredible pool of knowledge, experience, and decision making power. We were ripped out of our comfort zone, which lead to a powerful transformational experience where the extremity of the surroundings dug deep in our hearts and motivated us to leverage our joint efforts even more. We had the opportunity to step out of the systems we are part of and look from outside at the challenges we face. Whereby obtaining invaluable feedback from all the team members. The severe yet pristine and fragile environment of Antarctica re-ignited our passion to power through and inspire sustainable leadership within our communities and companies.

As the sheer power and enlightenment of that expedition started to sink in, I recognized I have a critical role as an official ambassador of 2041 not only in the Middle East but also globally. Through my work in e-waste recycling with Enviroserve and my involvement with various publications and NGOs, I am directly involved in environmental preservation and raising awareness on ecological challenges. It is certainly my long-term goal to progressively move up in the field and assist companies in adopting sustainability practices that benefit everyone – people, profit, and the planet."

As recounted by Zornitza Hadjitodorova.

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