A little flag,
and the big why
‘Russia plants a flag under the North Pole.’ On 3 August 2007 Princess Laurentien van Oranje read in a newspaper that two small unmanned Russian submarines had planted the Russian flag at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. A land grab on one of the most vulnerable places on earth, prompted by the belief that there might be deposits of oil and gas under the surface. It surprised her, and not in a good way. The more so because the multitude of similar disturbing reports in the media had already made an impression on her. It seemed like they had become the norm, but surely that wasn’t how it should be?
Princess Laurentien thought there was an essential element lacking in these news reports. Why plant a flag like that in the first place? Why are we looking for fossil fuels in such vulnerable places? Shouldn’t we be asking ‘why’ much more often?’
In the months that followed, the idea for a book about this missing element in the debate about the future began to grow. The title of the book seemed obvious: Missing Chapter. But what form should the book take?
The answer was, in fact, as clear as daylight. Which people use the word ‘why’ most of all? Which people are really skilled at asking that particular question? Precisely: children. It’s their direct and honest voice that gets us to re-examine the essential nature of the things we do. The ‘missing chapter’ they represent found its first expression in a children’s book thought up and created by Princess Laurentien, together with illustrator Sieb Posthuma. The star of the book is a little creature - dressed in green trousers and a blue jumper - called Mr Finney who explores the world, keeps on asking ‘why’ and sparks dialogue between adults and children as the book itself provides the material to get them talking. The first Mr Finney book was published just ahead of the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. Princess Laurentien sent copies to numerous world leaders who were due to attend the conference, enclosing a letter in which she called on them to keep the Finney message in mind.
That little character who keeps on asking ‘why’ became the anchor for Missing Chapter and its goal of bringing the worlds of children and of adult executives, directors and other leaders closer together. A much-needed addition to the process of taking future-proof decisions. And, in fact, an essential addition because the future is something that concerns and affects children the most. Seen in that light, it should be the most normal thing in the world for their voices to be heard and acted on.
And thus, on 16 December 2009, Missing Chapter was established.