Environmental and climate change evangelist James Cameron – best known for being non-executive Chairman of UK-based Climate Change Capital (CCC) – gave an inspiring talk at the international Open Knowledge [OK] Festival, recently held in Finland.

Cameron was one of the keynote speakers during a Plenary Session of the Festival – which was held at Helsinki’s Aalto University. He argued that open source knowledge on sustainability, economic issues and a wide range of related subjects should be freely accessible on the web and via other outlets – and that it was an essential tool for many decision-makers, businesses and the wider global community.

The Carbon Disclosure Project ( has been widely cited as a successful OK network involving major corporations.

Cameron thought that OK and open data systems can have a key role in formulating measures to ensure the long-term survival of the planet’s life support systems.

But the challenges in building up these OK systems over the next decade are not to under-estimated. Throughout the world there are huge quantities of data – but many of the data sets are either not joined up or are not readily accessible. Connectivity and standardisation is therefore required to ensure everyone has the data and analysis capabilities that they require to develop a more sustainable world.

Cameron has repeated argued that without access to reliable data how can governments identify the serious problems that are developing and what options are available to deal with them.

He added that decision-makers also need a “Ghostbusters button” – allowing them to rapidly contact specialists in the event of an emergency.

There has been some speculation about the future role of Cameron at CCC now that it is under new ownership. However, he confirmed that he will be staying with the company for the time being and will continue to develop its global activities.

In a brief interview, Cameron commented that he was keen to focus on work to improve the use of technologies that assist sustainable development. He is particularly interested in the energy-food-water nexus – saying that better knowledge and innovation in these vital sectors is central to the future of mankind and also to avoiding future conflicts in several regions of the world.

Anyone attending the OK Festival would have been impressed and inspired by Cameron’s communication skills. He stressed that “people need to break out of their limited identities” and develop appropriate strategies to deal with the ebbs and flows in their careers. He also thought that creating new businesses models that reflect the changes in society and encourage individuals and groups to work on cutting edge issues will be a major challenge over the next decade. This process could include new “public good enterprises” [such as those starting to emerge in the USA and European countries]. Cameron has recently been encouraging the UK’s Open University and other global institutions to carry out research into this embryonic field.  Governments can also have a key role in this process by offering support through the tax systems.

So let’s watch this space for further developments.

Background Note:

Prior to become Chairman of CCC, James was Counsel to Baker & McKenzie and was the founder and the head of their Climate Change and Clean Energy Practice. He has spent much of his legal career working on climate change matters, including negotiating the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol as an adviser to the Alliance of Small Island States. As a barrister he appeared in several of the leading cases in international and environmental law.

Image via CNBC