We live in an extraordinary period of human history.  It is a time of great wealth and opportunity, but it is also a time dogged by increasing turbulence and tragedy and the growing plight of the most vulnerable people. 

Lord Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen, I can only thank The Lord Mayor most warmly for her truly kind introduction and also, even more warmly, congratulate Lady Rothschild and the City of London for managing to bring together such a remarkable group of people.  I am sure I could benefit from learning how you do it!

Somewhat bewildered by being asked to join such a stratospheric group of financial, economic and business experts, I can only assume it may be partly due to my efforts over the past thirty-one years to encourage the concept of corporate social and environmental responsibility.  Thirty-one years ago, not many people were interested I can assure you.  I remember when the Iron Curtain came down there was a certain amount of shouting about the triumph of Capitalism over Communism.  Being somewhat contrary, I didn't think it was quite as simple as that.  I felt that unless the business world considered the social, community and environmental dimensions, we might end up coming full circle.  Hence my efforts to build effective partnerships between the private, public and N.G.O. - or civil society - sectors.

Whatever the case, what is so impressive about today's gathering is that every one of you ladies and gentlemen is so well-placed to take the kind of action needed to create a new form of inclusive Capitalism.  It is crucial, if I may say so, but it will need strong leadership, unbounded energy, determination and not a little daring.

We live in an extraordinary period of human history.  It is a time of great wealth and opportunity, but it is also a time dogged by increasing turbulence and tragedy and the growing plight of the most vulnerable people.  And, of course, it is a time of unprecedented environmental change, undoubtedly compounded by Man-made global warming and with great strain placed on Nature's life-support systems. In other words, her soils, fresh water, forests, fisheries, oceans and biodiversity - which are being lost at an alarming rate.  These changes threaten to undermine all of the progress we have achieved, unless we can create a much more sustainable and inclusive approach.

The key to forging such a new approach has to be, I would have thought, a fundamental transformation of global Capitalism.  It seems to me that the transformation I have long had in mind is reflected in the substance of your meeting today and the question of how to create a shift in focus away from the present attention on the short-term and towards a focus on the long-term.  And with it, an authentic moral commitment to acting as true custodians of the Earth and architects of the well-being of current and future generations.  Many of you here today are pioneers in this process and you have shown that this commitment does not have to incur a financial cost.  Indeed, as my Accounting for Sustainability Project has demonstrated only too clearly, it is only by adopting a broader sense of value that our finances will be sustained and we can find new sources of profit.

If there is a price to pay for achieving the necessary transformation, it will be our abandoning of the next, seemingly easy, short-term solution that our current form of Capitalism thinks is necessary and, instead, focusing on approaches that achieve lasting and meaningful returns.

This, for instance, would involve paying due attention to both social and environmental capital.  It would involve putting young people properly at the heart of companies' employment practices and planning strategies, in order to tackle more effectively the world's growing youth unemployment crisis.  It would also go some way to helping those who are most vulnerable in our societies.  After all, it is perhaps worth bearing in mind that at the end of the day the primary purpose of Capitalism should surely be to serve the wider, long-term interests and concerns of humanity, rather than the other way round.   So, critically, it would require the incorporation of environmental externalities.  We would have to account properly for carbon dioxide emissions, the use of water and fertiliser, the pollution we produce and the biodiversity we lose.  All of these would have to be properly comprehensively considered in our economic and national decision-making because inclusive Capitalism cannot be truly inclusive if our dependence on Natural Capital - what Pavan Sukhdev astutely describes as “the economic invisibility of Nature” - is not also included in our calculation of value and economic worth.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we stand at a pivotal moment in history.  Either we continue along the path we seem collectively determined to follow, apparently at the mercy of those who so vociferously and aggressively deny that our current operating model has any effect upon dangerously accelerating climate change - which I fear will bring us to our own destruction - or we can choose to act now before it is finally too late, using all of the power and influence that each of you can bring to bear to create an inclusive, sustainable and resilient society.  There will, of course, be hard choices to make, and, take it from me, in the short term, you will not be popular with your peers, but if you stand firm and take the kind of action that is needed, I have every confidence the rewards will be immense.  Not least, you will be able to look in the mirror and say with full confidence that you did everything you could possibly do to create the kind of transformation that would put the true, long-term value of both Nature and human communities at the heart of future economic and investment models, thus ensuring a social, environmental and commercial return that is truly resilient.  It would also reflect accurately, and support appropriately, the mutually inter-dependent relationships between people and the multitude of biodiverse species on which, whether we like it or not, we rely for our survival and our long-term welfare.  This, ladies and gentlemen, if I can remind you, is an absolutely crucial priority for the millions of rural poor, 350 million of whom in India alone depend upon the continuing provision of Nature’s ecosystem services - in other words, as Pavan Sukhdev again puts it, “the G.D.P. of the rural poor.”

Over the next eighteen months, and bearing in mind the urgency of the situation confronting us, the world faces what is probably the last effective window of opportunity to vacate the insidious lure of the “last chance saloon” in order to agree an ambitious, equitable and far-sighted multilateral settlement in the context of the post-2015 sustainable development goals and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.  I do hope and trust ladies and gentlemen that the intellectual, financial and moral leadership assembled here today will contribute as much as possible to the success of these processes, and I can only wish you an inspiring and constructive meeting.  I look forward very much to hearing of the next phase of your endeavours and to offering what little support I can.