Ahead of the release of his new book, Somebody Else’s Problem: Consumerism, Sustainability and Design, Robert Crocker examines the pervasive and destructive impacts of our consumption-driven social and economic systems.
Consumerism today represents an unprecedented crisis of values, in ethical, social and material terms. Never before have so many resources and so much energy been used to produce so many goods for so many people. And never before have hundreds of millions of people across the world been so ingeniously encouraged to buy, use and then throw away or upgrade – with increasing rapidity – what they have bought. This has resulted in a world of unsustainable material flows, and a world drowning in waste.
The future of sustainability is focused around the new global Sustainable Development Goals launched in September 2015. Momentously, Goal 16 calls governments, business and civil society to:
“Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”
Without peaceful, inclusive societies, sustainable development has no ‘enabling environment’. Yet, discussion of ‘peace and stability’ with many corporate representatives is often received with a quiet, “not really our responsibility” or “we don’t operate in conflict zones”. But as part of a community, or part of a social ‘system’, business can work with other actors to support their peace efforts. Business contributions to peace are crucial for conflict-affected countries, as well as countries not seen as
‘conflict zones’ but which experience instability and low-level violence. Indeed business support for peace is important in all countries, and can include for example, supporting measures aimed at inter-cultural/faith/sect understanding and countering terrorism. If companies ignore how they impact (both positively and negatively) on a country’s conflict(s), and how they can proactively help prevent or mitigate violent conflict, what is the point of sustainable development when big business is such a key global player? And ultimately, peace means prosperity for both communities and business. Continue reading
By Dr. Kathy Miller Perkins
Note: this article is part of The Transatlantic Debate Blog series, which forms a conversation between Dr. Katrin Muff and Dr. Kathy Miller Perkins on business sustainability. Read the previous post here.
Last month, in anticipation of the COP21 meetings, my blogging partner, Katrin Muff, wrote about hope for a miracle in Paris. Her desire was for global leaders to come together to create a positive force in the world to address climate change. Now that the meetings have concluded, I believe most of us would agree that her hope was realized. The outcome of the COP21 was an ambitious multi-country agreement that moves us forward in addressing the urgent issue of climate change. However, as Jeff Nye states in the title of his recent SustainAbility blog, We’ve come a Long Way from Rio but the Real Journey Starts Now. He argues that this treaty merely “fires the starting gun on a quest to deliver a carbon neutral economy within the lifetimes of our grandchildren.” Continue reading
A Greenleaf author has presented research from his forthcoming book, the first to analyze the psychosocial impacts of climate disruption, to a group of experts at the UK Committee on Climate Change (UK CCC).
Bob Doppelt, who is Executive Director of The Resource Innovation, spoke on the theories behind Transformational Resilience to the UK CCC team which advises on links between climate change mitigation and adaptation at the session organized by Greenleaf earlier this week. Continue reading
Peter Poschen, Director of the ILO Enterprises Department and author of Decent Work, Green Jobs and the Sustainable Economy: Solutions for Climate Change and Sustainable Development (Greenleaf Publishing 2015), argues that the world of work has a central role to play in tackling climate change and ensuring a just transition to a green economy.
by Dr. Katrin Muff
Different ways of occupying…
As we will consider in this month’s blog, there are different ways of occupying that middle ground between the personal space each of us feel responsible for, and societal best interests. The collective space called “we” can be used to uplift individuals to act together for a better common future, or it can be hijacked by individuals or special interest groups to occupy or “blockupy” the collective space pressing their issues – for better, or worse, as we shall see below, and not necessarily in the interest of the greater common good.
by Dr. Kathy Miller Perkins
For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.
John F. Kennedy
Recap – January Blog
Last month Katrin discussed the “zero decade” – a term used by Naomi Klein to describe our dwindling opportunity to take action to keep human-created climate change in check. Katrin conveyed how we might avoid an unmitigated global disaster. She outlined three levels of global responsibility including the individual (I), the collective (we) and the societal (us). She suggested focusing on how we might effectively occupy that middle space– the “we”.
NOTE: This post by Dr Katrin Muff is a continuation of ‘The Transatlantic Debate Blog, a series of articles published in 2014 forming a conversation between Katrin Muff and Kathy Miller Perkins on business sustainability. For more information and to read the posts, please click here.
Activists have come to call our current decade the “zero decade” – the decade in which we have the power to decide if we take action to keep human-made global warming within the relatively safe two degrees, or if we let the climate head off into spheres where the only certainty is that life will dramatically change for the generations after us. Is there anything we can do? Is there anything I can do?
I recently spent 40 hours on a train across India and took the time to read Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything book on climate change and what it will take for us to remain within the required two-degree temperature limit. Well, nothing short of getting rid of the capitalist system as we have come to know it! How? Nothing short of a revolution and global social unrest, she says. I don’t like social unrest – for many reasons – and I am sure I am not alone. The alternative? What if there is none?
[New Delhi, India Feb 10, 2014] Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and 2007 Nobel Prize awardee (with the IPCC and Al Gore) receives a copy of the Greenergized (UK: Greenleaf, 2013) business fable on clean energy from Philippine Climate Commissioner Heherson “Sonny” Alvarez. Greenergized was written by Philippines-based technology author and technology consultant Dennis Posadas to explain climate and clean energy concepts in a business fable format for laypersons.
Photo courtesy of Bernie Felix, Philippine Climate Commission.
SPECIAL OFFER: 20% off Greenergized with discount code GREE20. Visit our website to order and enter the code at checkout.
Review of Natural Corporate Management: From the Big Bang to Wall Street by William C. Frederick
Rare are books that begin with the Big Bang and march sequentially through a litany of seemingly unrelated natural phenomena including energy, life itself, genetics, and the rise of Homo sapiens. Add to this Darwinian survival and market competition, and you have Natural Corporate Management, a truly fresh perspective on individual and corporate behavior.
The novelty of the examples and logic is indisputable. Each natural science phenomenon is presented as more than just an analogy. Frederick (emer., Univ. of Pittsburgh), author of numerous works including Corporation, Be Good! (CH, Jul’06, 43-6635), treats them directly or indirectly as the causes for modern business practices. He offers a natural-world evolutionary perspective of why organizations exist and how they function. Continue reading