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Unifying Leadership: US Cities Response to President Trump's Paris COP 21 Withdrawal

Back in June, 300 US Mayors and counting, including almost all the major cities, and several US States, covering >20% of US GDP and population, pledged to remain within the 2/1.5 degree Paris COP commitment. City halls across the US were lit up in green in a co-ordinated action to reassure the global community that Americans are still serious about climate change.

The Climate Mayors had been preparing for President Trump's announcement of withdrawal for many months prior. An even broader based coalition, including the Mayors, called "We Are Still In" and adding many Fortune 500 businesses, investors, States and civil society organizations, has also shown that co-ordination between investors, politicians, business and civil society can provide powerful leadership, even without national commitment.

Sustainable Means had been aware of this process since January, through our network, but were sworn to secrecy. The successful candidate in a search we ran (US region leader) had provided instrumental leadership in the Climate Mayors response, including working with the Mayor of the founding major city that spearheaded the response, developing that city's strategic sustainability plan with the CSO and the Mayor, organizing the first 100 signatories, and helping draft the text, so we had known confidentially for several months what would unfold when President Trump pulled the trigger.

The impact of this candidate with the Climate Mayors work represents an example of what we set out to do when founding the firm - finding high potential leaders and putting them in positions where they could have maximum sustainability impact based on a global platform.

With a first class undergraduate degree and trained with two of the best strategy advisory firms in the world this candidate had gone on after his MBA at Stanford to develop specialist subject matter expertise at the leading sustainability boutique. Here he worked with some of the world's largest firms on their most intractable sustainability issues, translating them into major financial and impact value opportunities. He had also worked in a specialist C-Suite firm recognizing that transformational decisions are made at the ELT level and that skills in this area were vital to becoming an impactful (and senior) partner.

This well-rounded combination of quantitative, strategic and high level relationship/soft skills, with impeccable educational foundation and pedigree global strategy firm training, represents the type of candidate we bring to our searches. His alignment of sustainability values and passion, with building his firm's brand and impact, and delivering financial results to his clients, through innovating towards the sustainable future economy, is the sweet spot we focus on at Sustainable Means - integrating financial and social/ecological value as the future economy is delivered.

This is also a signature mark of the world's best future leaders - the realization that good business (delivering solutions people and planet want and need), investment performance (profit denoting excellence in service rather than exploitation) and planetary sustainability, can go hand in hand - rather than the old-paradigm view that capital and profit and environment and labor must necessarily be in conflict.

It was uplifting in June to see partnerships between several Fortune 500s, large investment houses, politicians, civil society and activists in standing up for the COP21 commitment in the USA. In our view true leadership unifies across all sectors of society, and indeed, across all nations of the world.

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