The energy transition is here for real and Musk is inspiringly authentic
In this blogpost (Guido, Nazava’s co-founder) reflect on my visit to the B20 conference in Bali. Opinions are my own.
During the COVID years conference visits were sparse and trips to Bali even sparser. We quite often visit trade shows and conferences for social enterprises but never massive international business gatherings like this one. Indonesia wanted to make the B20 big and turn Bali into a new Davos (home of the Social Economic Forum). So you can imagine I traveled to Bali buoyant with expectation. What would this be like? Would I be able to meet the global elite? Or even reptiles?
The travel to Bali was uneventful. I flew lion air that luckily did not land in the sea this time . On arrival I was escorted to a shuttle bus to the registration center. It took 10 minutes or so to get the registration batch after which I ordered a grabcar to my guesthouse. I was happy that I could still find a room for less than 15 USD at only 2 kilometers from the venue. The host Mr. Made – 30 % of Balinese men have that name – was very welcoming. I changed into my running shoes, ran to Nusa Dua beach, took a quick dip among some Russians and ran straight back. I didn’t feel fit at all but at least got some training in.
In the afternoon there was the official launch of the Benelux Indonesian Association, a new outfit to foster trade between Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Indonesia. Nice to meet with Dutch , Belgium and even one Luxembourger while enjoying a cold bintang and some nice food!
The next morning the B20 started. Here are some observations:
So many people
There were a total of 3000 participants. All sitting in an enormous room. With such a big crowd it is really hard to find who might be a useful contact. I made some connections before and also planned to meet some people at the venue but I ended up not finding many people. So I decided to follow the principle of serendipity: just have an open mind, make connections and be curious.
Most speakers were from big business or the government. Running a small always underfunded social enterprise selling water filters also it was hard to not to self indulge in my Calimero complex. But hey, better enjoy the show!
Real drive to move to clean energy
Expectantly, many of the speakers were coming from companies not known for their environmental achievements. Self congratulation is the norm at these conferences so it was easy to fill the BS bingo . I can be deeply cynical in general about big business, I felt that we are now on a different page in the sustainability book. All parties clearly see that renewable energy holds the future. It is not something for CSR reports anymore. Energy transition is now the thing to invest in. It is the business of the future. Governments are fighting to get investments in battery making capacity and renewable energy projects.
However, even though I can be deeply cynical in general about big business, I felt that we are now on a different page in the sustainability book. All parties clearly see that renewable energy holds the future. It is not something for CSR reports anymore. Energy transition is now the thing to invest in. It is the business of the future.
Gender Inclusive – mwah not so much
Gender inclusivity was another key theme of the conference (besides energy transition and collaboration). There were some formidable female speakers such as Sri Mulyani (Indonesia’s finance minister) and Candace Johnson but most panels were men dominated and in some the only woman was the moderator.
Elon Musk is having a hard time but space lightens him up.
Many participants were disappointed when the crowd was told that Elon Musk would not make an offline appearance but just do an online interview. This was still an Epic session. Aninda Bakrie, boss of TV One and heir to the enormous Bakrie group interviewed Elon Musk.
Elon musk was at an undisclosed location where they just experienced a power outage. Elon himself was amused by the irony of the fact that the CEO of SpaceX & e-car maker Tesla was sitting in the dark, his face only lit by a candle and his screen.
Unlike the other CEOs Elon did not join self promotion but was very authentic. . When asked what his plans were with Tesla his face darkened and he just said that he was working day in night for the company and that managing it was very hard. He looked as if he was at the point of a mental breakdown and then just said:,”that is all I want to say about it”. His expression was very genuine and as an entrepreneur myself I recognized that feeling. It was a beautiful moment.
Elon Musk looked as if he was at the point of a mental breakdown and then just said:,”that is all I want to say about it”. His expression was very genuine and as an entrepreneur myself I recognized that feeling. It was a beautiful moment
When Aninda asked why he is investing in SpaceX and traveling to outer space while there are still people going hungry, Elon answered that indeed we should focus for 99% on the problem on earth but that he needed to spend at least 1% of his time on something that really makes you happy. And indeed when he started talking about the remote possibility of finding other civilizations in outer space or the prospect of becoming a multi planetary species his eyes started shining like those child thinking about candy..
Indonesian Ministers frivolous fighting for investment and Jokowi wants Australia’s Lithium
Other remarkable was when Sandiaga Uno from Tourism and Budi Gunadi Sadikin from health started a frivolous battle to convince the audience to invest in their sectors. Mr. Sadikin saying that everybody should invest in Indonesian healthcare and Sandiago Uno asking for investment in the tourism sector. Finally Mr Sandiago conceded and said he would himself consider investment in health care.
Indonesia’s president gave only a brief speech. Most remarkable was that he asked his Australian colleague who was present at the time to send all Australian Lithium to Indonesia to make car batteries in Indonesia .