09/26/2014 06:28 pm ET Updated Nov 26, 2014


Speech by Morten Albæk, GSVP & CMO Vestas Wind Systems A/S - UN Private Sector Forum, New York, 23 Sep 2014


Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Morten Albæk and I am the CMO at Vestas Wind Systems, the world's largest wind turbine manufacturer. It's a privilege to share this time with you.

I am asked to summarise our table discussion. Good things were said. The need for carbon pricing, responsible corporate policies, long-term goal setting and change in investments.

But allow me to bring up another, and perhaps, more important issue. The human memory.

Namely, the memory process in which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved.

  • Encoding, as in registration, receiving, processing of received information
  • Storage, as in creating a permanent record of the encoded information
  • And retrieving as in a recollection of stored information for the use in an activity or action

You may ask what this has to do with the UN Climate Summit. To me, everything.

I fear that we in 12 months' time from now will look back and conclude; that once again we have less action than talk at a time where the levels of CO2 are at its highest ever.

My thesis is that when it comes to climate change, energy poverty and water scarcity, our memory, and specifically the ability to retrieve the information we all have encoded and stored and put it into action, is not integrated into business innovation.

We are all wise and clever people here. We have all encoded and stored that the planet is warming rapidly with catastrophic consequences for the climate.

We have all encoded and stored that today more than 1.3 billion people across the globe live in energy poverty with dramatic consequences for human health, education, and economic well-being.

We have all encoded and stored that 1.2 billion of the global population faces water scarcity. By 2050, more than
40% of the global population is projected to live in areas of severe water stress.

What I believe we have not done so far, is retrieving this information and used it in our business innovation. Because if we had, we would not be here today.

At Vestas, we have made a humble try to retrieve the information we have encoded and stored and used it in our business innovation.

We have connected two data points; one being that 1.3 billion people across the globe lack access to electricity, and the other that a significant part of these people live in areas with abundant wind resources.

By connecting these data points we now have a potential new market segment of about 100 million people for our new off-grid wind solutions. Through this we can mitigate climate change, energy poverty and hopefully also bring about a decent return on investment. We call it Wind for Prosperity.

So my message to you is - that yesterday I was in the business of selling wind turbines - today, I'm in the business of alleviating energy poverty.

So when you return home from the meeting today, then ask yourselves; which business are YOU in, because that defines what information your memory retrieves.

Thank you.