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A Green Mission for 'Retired' World and Business Leaders

[Editor's Note: David Kenny, president of Akamai Technologies, writes from Davos, Switzerland, where the World Economic Forum is conducting its 41 annual meeting.]

I have an idea about recruiting former heads of state and retired CEOs into a movement for sustaining our world for future generations.

Last night, I saw Bill Clinton at a party, with as much energy and concern for the world as ever. Today, the presidents of Panama and South Africa are sitting next to me, and they clearly have much more to give after their terms end. Additionally, there are CEOs from several companies here who are getting ready to transition.

If all these talented individuals were encouraged to make the next phase of their lives about ensuring the legacy of a sustainable planet, we would most certainly have strong leaders to follow.

The challenge in so many of the sustainability and environment issues here is that the effects take time, and the benefits are years into the future. It takes wisdom to make sacrifice or change in the present to benefit one's descendants.

While many young people have taken up the environmental causes, it would be great if this also became a legacy issue for great leaders. We can create a movement, like Peace Corps or Teach for America, which is designed specifically to use the wisdom and motivation of those who are focused on increasing their legacy.

I believe science and technology will be the only way to create a sustainable world -- but scientists need funding, inspiration, leadership and vision. Retired corporate and public sector leaders can help fund the right projects, and serve as mentors and sounding boards to the scientists. As leaders, they can also help get new technologies adopted by promoting them to society and the business community.

Here is a video of the talk this week between Clinton and World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab at Davos:

Image and video courtesy of the World Economic Forum. Photo by Moritz Hager / © World Economic Forum.

Image and video courtesy of the World Economic Forum. Photo by Moritz Hager / © World Economic Forum.

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