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Courage meets Collaboration at the Impact Days

"Where Courage Meets Collaboration" was the motto of the 10th Impact Days on 2-3 June at HOFBURG Vienna. A motto just to my taste. Courage is a feeling that first emerges within us. It makes us overcome our fears. It inspires us to act. But it is when we start acting that we do need others to collaborate with to reach true impact.

For ten years, the Impact Days have tried to do both: bring on stage the courageous "round pegs in a square hole", investors who are not primarily interested in profit but in the greater good. And create a space for them to meet with the people on the ground and those pulling the strings to start collaborations. Investing in products, services and initiatives that tackle the #SDGs is not a nice-to-have once other investments have cashed out. As Kirsten Dunlop, CEO of Climate-KIC, put it, "we need to invest every cent on staying alive". I'd say that covers the urgency.

Collaboration amongst generations was what "grandma on duty", Doris from the intergenerational coffee shop Vollpension (a perfect example for successful impact investment) called for: "We need to see the richness that older people bring to society with their experience!"

Rich indeed is also the experience of Heinz Fischer, former president of Austria, who quoted Willy Brandt, "Peace is not everything, but everything is nothing without peace" - whilst sharing his own story of being born into a world on the brink of war in 1938.

One wonders what advice people at that time would have given us had they had the chance to. Would their personal stories, their true voices touch us in a way that could be a more effective warning? To do everything we can to prevent war? To protect a then still so much more unharmed world?

We don't know. What we can know is the messages we want to pass on to our future generations. So we did: we got ourselves a time capsule from the International Time Capsule Society (yes, it exists), ask everyone - as Marc Mertens put it beautifully - "What are the whispers that have turned into shouts?", and let our messages be kept in secret for 100 years - for future generations to receive.

Let's hope that by then, they will look back to the year 2022, satisfied and proud that they, that we, had the courage to act just in time. And that it wasn't just a few of us, but many who understood the urgency and managed to collaborate - and only by that enable their past - our future - to be bright.

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