Memento mori

Memento mori

“Obsolescence”. Any idea what this means? Most people don’t… despite the fact that it is a very common phenomenon in our daily lives. So what is it??


Is it a medical condition, something scary, weird behaviour? Does it have to do with health, with technology or with economics? Do we need to worry about it? Does it affect our wellbeing? Mentally, physically, morally? Is it bad for our environment, for nature, for other living beings?


… Probably yes to all the above… we should definitely be aware of it!

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Dare to jump!

Dare to jump!

The reference “Value@Venture” may need some explanation, so please allow me to clarify:


  • “Value” – the term “value” is often seen as plain material/ financial value, but true value has much more to it. I see it from a moral perspective too. Values & norms are important. Adam Smith (the famous economist with his market theory “led by the invisible hand”), for example, not only wrote about the “Wealth of Nations”, but also about “Moral Sentiments”. Humans are value driven animals in the broadest sense of the word.

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To be(e) or not to be(e)


I started a beekeeper course at the Landwirtschaftsschule in Imst (the agricultural school in Tyrol, Austria) and a new world opens up! The bees are incredibly interesting and inspiring! We don’t just learn a lot of them, but we can learn a lot from them.




Great is the following statement of the Austrian bee expert Karl von Frisch (Nobel Prize winner 1973):

“Der Bienenstaat gleicht einem Zauberbrunnen;

je mehr man daraus schöpft, desto reicher fließt er.”


Which translates in English:

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Conservation Finance


Report Conservation Finance

Report Conservation Finance

This week a new report on conservation finance came out:


“Conservation Finance. From Niche to Mainstream: The Building of an Institutional Asset Class”


Please find the report via this link:



Sustainable farmland, healthy forests, clean water, and abundant habitat stand to become more valuable as the global population climbs to nine billion by 2050. Already, pioneering investors have put together financial solutions that combine real assets, such as tropical forests, with cash flows from operations in fields such as sustainable timber, agriculture, and ecotourism. Conservation finance, as this field is known, represents an undeveloped, but emerging private sector investment opportunity of major proportion.

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Food for Thought…


These cartoons pinpoint some actual issues…


Food for thought…


Evolution of Man by Dan Piraro



= As an aside, please find an interesting interview with cartoonist Dan Piraro here. =




… and thought for food…

Bizarre Evolution

Bizarre Evolution









A recent video of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the UN shows more serious details around these themes. Worth the watch:

FAO on Farming


Sour Grapes and Sweet Lemons

Illustration by Aofie-Fionn

Illustration by Aofie-Fionn

A famished fox saw some clusters of ripe black grapes hanging from a trellised vine. She resorted to all her tricks to get at them, but wearied herself in vain, for she could not reach them. At last she turned away, hiding her disappointment and saying: “The Grapes are sour, and not ripe as I thought.”

—Aesop, traditional fable, The Fox and the Grapes


The fox in this fable is very motivated to get her hands on some deliciously looking grapes. Unfortunately, she cannot reach them… In the end she turns her back to the grapes and comforts herself by thinking that they are not so ripe or desirable anyway.

Like the fox in the fable, if motivated, people bring judgments of desirability in line with judgments of likelihood. (How likely is it that a desired object is obtainable? How big is the chance of getting something and hence, how much do I want it?) A great article on this phenomenon is “Sour Grapes, Sweet Lemons, and the Anticipatory Rationalization of the Status Quo”.

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Shareholder statement

Headline in the Guardian dd.  1 July 2015: “Church of England divests from Soco oil firm over Virunga operations“


The Church of England, a key shareholder in the UK oil firm Soco, sells its GBP 1.6m stake, citing ethical concerns over UK firm’s controversial plans to drill in Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Please read more here:




To be interpreted… Certain payments and activities in Virunga…

The New York TimesVery unfortunate, but maybe nothing new: Global Witness presents latest evidence that UK oil company SOCO has been involved in corrupt activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in and around Virunga National Park. Please see the following New York Times article (dd. 9 June 2015):




Whether it is about bribery or “facility payments” (these concepts and the “differences” between them are intriguing; shady and grey), it was – is – and remains a tricky situation in this magnificent, unique region of the world. Sad but true. It shouldn’t be like this. And it doesn’t need to be like this. There are multiple opportunities for sustainable development here…!

Limited minds… and (corporate) responsibilities?

Upon reflection, we can acknowledge that our human mind is rather limited:

We overestimate what we do know and we underestimate what we don’t know.


We humans take a lot at face value. We suffer from “black swan blindness” (as we mostly see white swans, we tend to think they are all white and we tend to forget about the black ones). We can even ignore “stampeding black elephants” if we want?! In other words, we can ignore very obvious facts that are in the face (please see the previous blog post dd. 25 November 2014).

Interesting questions that follow out of these facts are: How do we deal with reality? How do we (want to) see things? How much are we aware of our limitations? And how do we manage these limitations?


M.C. Escher

M.C. Escher Museum


In my prints I try to show that we live in a beautiful and orderly world, not in formless chaos, (…). I cannot resist fooling around with our established certainties. It gives me great pleasure, for example, to deliberately mix together objects with two and three dimensions, surface and spatial relationships, and to make fun of gravity.” – M.C. Escher



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Attention! Stampeding black elephants…

Black Elephant

“Black Elephant”

The New York Times of 22 November 2014 makes us aware of the black elephant phenomenon that has been discussed at the World Parks congress in Sydney recently.

A black elephant is:

“a cross between ‘a black swan’ (an unlikely, unexpected event with enormous ramifications) and the ‘elephant in the room’ (a problem that is visible to everyone, yet no one still wants to address it) even though we know that one day it will have vast, black-swan-like consequences.”


Let’s think about the state of our world. Do we (want to) realize what is going on? Do we (want to) act upon it? What can we do? Please find the insightful article of Thomas Friedman via this link:


Conservation is self-preservation.” (Adrian Steirn)

Magnificent Virunga

Recently I gave several talks on Virunga National Park (some as an introduction to private screenings of the “Virunga” documentary) and I thought that a compilation of these texts could be interesting for the blog as well:


“Virunga” is a kind of “magic”, especially for the people who have been there or who know somewhat more about the place. Virunga grabs you, holds you. It is overwhelming. The natural beauty is just stunning. Everything is above any imagination in Virunga. That is true for the very best as, unfortunately, also for the very worst you can imagine. This wonderful region “East Congo” has been a troubled place since long.

Mountains of the Moon

Mountains of the Moon (photo by CTW)


This is a picture of the North of the Virunga National Park. Such mountains with glaciers and snow were probably not the first images you expected when thinking about this Park in Central Africa.

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Keep moving

Chukudu driving lesson

Chukudu driving lesson

The chukudu is the typical wooden, handbuilt, men powered “pick up truck” in East Congo. Like a bicycle, this vehicle converts muscle power into speed. A chukudu costs about USD 20. For the Congolese, the chukudu is the motor of the local economy and it can be the difference between starving and eating. And it often proofs to be more reliable than other means of motorized transport…

Chukudu in action

Chukudu in action




Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein


Truck driving

Truck driving

Truck crashed

Truck crashed…

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