Foundations 21 - December 2017

Foundations 21 2 Simon Upton is one of the original members of the LafargeHolcim Foundation. He took a seat on the Board when it was initially formed in 2004. Over the years, the Board has benefited particularly from his wealth of political experience, as Simon Upton served as parliamentarian and minister in his home country. He is now giving up his function at the Foundation in order to devote himself to a new challenge in his homeland (see box). With Simon Upton’s depar- ture, the LafargeHolcim Foundation is losing a modern polymath who holds degrees in English literature, music, and law from the University of Auckland and a Master of Letters (MLitt) in Political Philosophy from the University of Oxford. Although he is departing, the New Zealander will continue to be associated with the Foundation in the future. Simon Upton, you have been direct- ly involved in the activities of the LafargeHolcim Foundation for the past 13 years. How has the Founda- tion changed during that time? Simon Upton: It hasn’t so much changed as it has deepened. It was a concept at the start, and people had to define it as they went along. Every time there was an event – whether it was a Forum or an Awards ceremony or another event – there was also a process of reflection: This was good, this didn’t go so well, so let’s change it. So although the overall format has always remained the same, we haven’t always done everything in the same way. Let’s take the Forum 2019 in Cairo: The way it’s being put together now is much better than anything we’ve previously done. So the change has been the process of learning how to run these events and make them more valuable each time. That means you are leaving the Foundation at its most interesting point! “There is no shortage of bright people and ingenuity” Since its inception, the Board of the LafargeHolcim Foundation has greatly benefited from the membership of Rt Hon Simon Upton. He is now stepping down – mainly because he wants to focus on his new role as Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment in New Zealand. In this conversation, he looks back on how the Foundation has developed over the years. It’s always been interesting! It’s just that we’re getting better at what we’re doing. And besides, everybody has to move on at some stage. I’ve been here for a long time; now it’s time for a different responsibility. But the Foundation will remain. Had strand of discussion that we had to follow. We’ve looked at the economics of things, we’ve looked at infrastruc- ture, and the next theme is going to be circular economy and dematerial- ization issues. Since the start of the Foundation, the world’s perception of sustain- ability has certainly changed – sustainability has become common sense. Is the LafargeHolcim Foundation still needed? Construction – the making of the fab- ric of our civilization – is one of the biggest activities we undertake. We feed ourselves, we move ourselves around, and we house ourselves. There are vast amounts of construc- tion required for providing moving and housing. On a global level, the construction industry is still putting huge pressure on the environment. Although we’ve learned a lot and are still learning a lot, there is still a vast amount to be done. For example, we still have prices for key raw materials that simply don’t reflect the environmental impact. We do not price things in a way that reflects the scarcity of our environmental you asked at its beginning whether it would be around in three years’ time, you would have had to say: Well, we’ll see… Now it has earned some real credibility, which LafargeHolcim as funding entity can be very proud of. What were the greatest challenges in the field of sustainable con- struction during your years at the Foundation? I’m not a construction expert, I’m in sustainability and environment, so I couldn’t answer this question – but I do know how the debate has changed. The Forums, for example, have covered a wide range of issues. So it’s not as if there was only one