Richard Branson3

As one of the world’s best known business leaders, the opinions of Sir Richard Branson carry enough weight to effect near immediate change, both for better or for worse.

Fortunately for the world, Branson is inspired by a love of humanity and a desire for superior solutions that has made him an effective and beneficial voice, in many fields. He has proven fearless in confronting challenges that many businesses shy away from, and has become a trusted opinion maker with a substantial and global following, both through ordinary and social media.

The Oslo Business for Peace Award is not bestowed in recognition of philanthropy or for corporate social responsibility. It is given to individual business leaders who are willing to take risks and who challenge and inspire their surroundings, in order to reach a better union between business and society. The award is conferred when enlightened leadership has a business contributing to the potential between business and society, rather than retreating to claims that “the business of business is business.”

A little over ten years ago, Branson was a climate change skeptic, who was concerned with how to lower fuel costs for the group’s airplanes and trains and many other activities. He was considering opening an oil refinery, to cut costs. While exploring this solution, he had a conference with twenty scientists who convinced him that fossil fuels were not a viable long-term solution, because of global warming.

Not long after, Branson had breakfast with Al Gore, who gave him the presentation that would later become An Inconvenient Truth. Aware of Branson’s public standing, Gore asked if he could make a gesture that might convince other business leaders.

In the years since, the Virgin group of companies and Branson have presented many initiatives that seek to build a bridge from today’s fossil fuel driven economy to the future solutions we need. Funds and resources have been allocated to searching for green fuels, more effective alternative energy sources, and energy savings in transportation – as well as awards and incentives for others to come up with lasting solutions. Most recently, Branson has called for the Caribbean to move from power from generators and fossil fuels, to using solar and wind energy. And he is sponsoring the work required to launch this change. He has also used his public platform to demand that “climate change skeptics should get out of the way,” impatient with how necessary progress in this area is being held up by special interests.

Branson has said that he is “cautiously optimistic that we can make the world a far better, safer and more equitable place if business and enterprise sits at the heart of the healing process. I firmly believe it is our responsibility to try and leave the planet in a better condition than we found it.”

For fearlessly taking on his critics, for pointing the way and for exploring every avenue that presents itself, towards that planet in a better condition – Sir Richard Branson is named a Business for Peace Honouree.