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As part of the UN Climate Summit in New York, the Solar Impulse founders were elated to announce Abu Dhabi as the start and finish point for the first Round-the-World solar flight to be attempted in 2015.

Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg were just two of the delegation that included 120 Heads of State and Government, and over 800 leaders in business, finance and civil society responding to Ban Ki-moon's invitation. The spirit of the summit resonated around the world, including a gathering of 300,000 ...

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Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg were just two of the delegation that included 120 Heads of State and Government, and over 800 leaders in business, finance and civil society responding to Ban Ki-moon's invitation. The spirit of the summit resonated around the world, including a gathering of 300,000 supporters in the streets of New York.

The political momentum has gained since the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in 2009: while previously the delegates only recognized the existence of the problem, the summit in New York saw a more positive and determined commitment to financing low-carbon development and the adoption of clean technologies. Indeed, a fund of $200bn was agreed by a coalition of global leaders.

The only way to motivate people is to demonstrate the existence of solutions, not only to speak about the problem,” said Bertrand Piccard. “It was great to meet so many people acting to change the world,” continued André Borschberg.

The Solar Impulse founders announced Abu Dhabi as the host city, and Masdar as the host partner while standing alongside Didier Burkhalter, President of the Swiss Confederation, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Chairman of Masdar.

Bertrand and André were pleased to be back in New York just a year after completing their flight across America with Si1, the first generation Solar Impulse airplane. Their record-breaking journey in 2013 visited the cities of San Francisco, Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Washington and New York. Second generation Si2 will look to make stopovers across the USA as it attempts the first Round-The-World solar flight, commencing in March 2015.

The summit was really a positive time to develop the momentum for meaningful change in developing and adopting clean technologies, of which Solar Impulse is a pioneering example. The first Round-The-World solar flight will be bracketed by the forthcoming summit in Lima, later this year, and the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of 2015.

From Alexander Likhotal,

The world is facing unprecedented challenges. Expanding opportunities are emerging side-by-side with intensifying problems. A proliferation of links between money, technology, energy, education, trade and communication is fueling ever more rapid global development. ...

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From Alexander Likhotal,

The world is facing unprecedented challenges. Expanding opportunities are emerging side-by-side with intensifying problems. A proliferation of links between money, technology, energy, education, trade and communication is fueling ever more rapid global development. Growing global capacities to meet human needs have come face-to-face with insurmountable difficulties.

Persistent poverty coexists with unprecedented prosperity. Rising levels of inequality and unemployment are spreading discontent and social unrest, while an aging population is straining social welfare nets. Economic growth is rapidly depleting the world’s natural resources and threatening catastrophic climate change. Competition for scarce resources is aggravating nationalist competition at a time when international cooperation is needed for coping with common global challenges. Globalization is breaking down the barriers insulating national economies, increasing the vulnerability of States to destabilizing cross-border impacts. Proliferation of nuclear and other weapons poses new threats to national and regional security.

Humanity seems driven by mutually exclusive and contradictory goals leading to apparently insoluble problems.

Governments rare not taking the perilous challenges posed by climate change and achieving sustainable and equitable development seriously. Short-term national and financial concerns are taking top priority, while resource use is escalating. 

Urgent action is needed on the structural, fundamental causes of the deteriorating situation, primarily excessive consumption, waste and the current unsustainable model of economic growth. This requires transformational change. But we have mainly seen rhetoric and political grandstanding on change. We must walk the talk.

Actions from one organization alone cannot change the world. We must work together. Awe-inspiring initiatives like Solar Impulse show people that it is possible to dream about a future driven by clean, renewable energy. Innovators like Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg embody sustainability through their work with airplanes capable of crossing the United States of America fuelled just by sun rays. Their coming around-the-world challenge will no doubt instill millions of people with hope for the future and demonstrate how we humans can take revolutionary actions today that can sustain us into the future. 

This is why a partnership between Solar Impulse and Green Cross makes sense. Working together, and with our many other partners, we can play our own unique, yet related, roles in a coordinated way to achieve one common goal: to transform and preserve our world through sustainability.

Nothing less than a revolution is needed in how we use natural resources. Our economy requires a fundamental transformation within a generation – in energy, industry, agriculture, fisheries and transport systems, plus producer and consumer behaviour.

When I joined Green Cross, shortly after its 1993 founding, I knew we had a long battle ahead to influence change in the values of people, business and government, and to turn sustainability into a development pillar.

This is taking hold, but slowly. President Obama is committing to fight climate change. Europe is championing green energy. China has de-facto recognized its development must be sustainable. The UN adopted the right to water as a human right. Oil multinationals, car manufacturers and chemical companies are parading their environmental credentials. Pollution, climate change and the depletion of natural resources have replaced nuclear weapons as the existential threats keeping voters awake. 

There is awareness and many examples of required actions being undertaken by companies, governments and individuals. But this must be stepped up, and governments must incentivize the expansion of circular economic and business models, green and smart energy and technologies.

Alexander Likhotal
President, Green Cross International

From the depths to the sky

As André Borschberg returned from his first attempt to conquer the Moroccan desert, Bertrand Piccard jumped on a flight to the capital city of the United States. In fact, Bertrand, with his two siblings Thierry and Marie-Laure, have been invited to collect the Hubbard Medal from the National Geographic ...

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As André Borschberg returned from his first attempt to conquer the Moroccan desert, Bertrand Piccard jumped on a flight to the capital city of the United States. In fact, Bertrand, with his two siblings Thierry and Marie-Laure, have been invited to collect the Hubbard Medal from the National Geographic Society bestowed on their father Jacques Piccard –explorer and oceanographer- posthumously.

The event will take place in Washington D.C on Thursday 14th of June and will also be an occasion to celebrate the 125th year since the founding of the event’s host, the National Geographic Society. The Medal will be presented by James Cameron, film Director (Titanic, Avater, and others), and Don Walsh, explorer, oceanographer and Jacques Piccard’s companion during the exploration of the world’s deepest point, Mariana Trench.   

More than a record, the dive was a milestone for the protection of the environment: by proving the existence of life where nobody expected it, this discovery pushed the governments to ban the dumping of toxic waste into the deepest trenches.

Just like August Piccard with the invention of the pressurized chamber and first trip to the stratosphere (1931) and Jacques Piccard with the first exploration of the depths of the ocean (1960), Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg have proven the importance to act upon one’s ideas even when they might sound unfeasible.


On 6 February at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Micheline Calmy-Rey, former President of the Swiss Confederation, presented the report on sustainable development written by a panel of heads of state at the behest of the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Aware of the very clear message from Solar Impulse in favour of technologies that can reduce our dependency on fossil energy, she had asked Bertrand to speak alongside her.

For him this was an opportunity to bring up the story about an exchange with his meteorologists during his round-the-world balloon trip and ...

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Aware of the very clear message from Solar Impulse in favour of technologies that can reduce our dependency on fossil energy, she had asked Bertrand to speak alongside her.

For him this was an opportunity to bring up the story about an exchange with his meteorologists during his round-the-world balloon trip and which describes so well the question of sustainability and the long-term vision. Very pleased with himself at having found an altitude where the winds were pushing him twice as fast as the team's calculations had suggested, his advisors replied ironically: "Do you prefer to fly very quickly in the wrong direction or more slowly in the right one?". "This is the question that governments should be asking now given the speed at which humanity is moving towards massive public debt, the depletion of natural resources and the pollution of our environment."

As Bertrand pointed out: "Today's pioneers should not limit themselves to being explorers who walk on the moon or who do trips round the world; they should be heads of state resolved to meet the even more ambitious challenge of improving the quality of life on this planet.

The report ends with a list of practical recommendations for governments and international institutions, such as the need to remove the many subsidies still given to fossil energy and to include the environmental costs in the prices of all products. "Lastly an official stance that a legal framework is essential to change certain types of behaviour", say Bertrand and André happy to have included this subject in their Energy Charter last year.


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