The Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) just announced a competition for Sustainable Leader Scholarships, for fees-paid places on the new Post-Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Leadership. This new course involves two residentials in the Lake District, UK, and independent study. It is suitable for professionals in the sustainability field seeking greater impact in their work. The deadline for applications is in January. The scholarships are made possible by sponsorship from the Robert Kennedy College. See: http://iflas.blogspot.sg/2013/12/become-sustainable-leadership-scholar.html
Archive for the ‘Academia and Research’ Category
Posted by jembendell on December 4, 2013
Posted by jembendell on April 21, 2013
I recently wrote a piece for the Guardian entitled “Is sustainable business still possible?” Why ask such a question? Wouldn’t it be disheartening to think it’s too late to avert massive disruption? Well, I don’t think so – after the initial shock and mourning, a new type of commitment can emerge. Not everyone reacts in that way, but I think it’s important to face up to what the science is telling us and then explore the implications, rather than continuing old patterns.
Some might think I’m exaggerating. So here is a quick recap.
Carbon concentrations in the atmosphere have stayed between 180 (ice ages) and 300 (inter glacials) parts per million (ppm) for 800,000 years, possibly up to 20,000,000 years. Now it gone from 325 to 397 ppm in my lifetime. It’s increasing at 2.7 ppm a year.
The average global surface temperature is now about 0.8C above that in 1900. Current projections are a 4 degree rise by 2100; i.e. in the lifetime of babies being born today.
Global warming affects the hydrosphere (water, ice), lithosphere (the land), and atmosphere. The relationship between them is complex, but the hydrosphere has been acting as a buffer, with seas soaking up most of the excess energy trapped by the current 397ppm of CO2.
Heating is speeding up beyond the worst past projections. For instance, NASA in 2007 said that we could lose Arctic summer sea ice by 2030. Now some projections are it will be gone by 2015.
The warming of the Arctic affects those areas most efficient in feeding the world through their exports.
Sea levels have been rising by over 3 mm a year since 1993. The most fertile farmland is low-lying and much will be swamped by sea rise of a meter.
CO2 at 397ppm is probably a death sentence for billions of people, and possibly for civilisation as we know it.
Significant action now will reduce the damage. Yet we don’t have significant action. Our systems for acting together have been failing us, ever since 1987 when the UN General Assembly first recognised climate change as a major problem. Media, politics, economics, monetary systems, intergovernmental processes, religions… We need to ask why, and that doesn’t mean asking who to blame, but delving deeper into causes, and learning more about rapid change processes.
Although significant action now will reduce the damage, it won’t stop massive disruption. So, we need to consider how to help future generations get through the disruption, through the suffering. What kind of ancestors are we? Will we be despised for our stupidity and selfishness? Perhaps. But can some of us help shape ways of life, values, ideas, systems, etc, that might help?
Some of the speakers recently appeared on Sea Change Radio: http://www.cchange.net/2013/03/26/sustainability-adventurers/
Seeking Transformation? Study for an interdisciplinary PhD at the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability
Posted by jembendell on November 25, 2012
“Education is the science of relations”
the founder of our Lake District Campus in 1892
Next year the University of Cumbria launches the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability. As Director of the new Institute, I am currently welcoming inquiries about potential PhD research. We will accept six PhD students, whether full time in residence (typically 3 years), full time away (typically 4 years) or part time (residence or away (typically 5 years). There is one opportunity for receiving a bursary to cover fees. The Institute is based in the heart of the beautiful Lake District in the UK, in the village of Ambleside, with Campuses also in Lancaster and Carlisle.
The Institute has a specific research focus, about which it welcomes proposals. This is in the field of “transition”. All our work on leadership and sustainability seeks to enable personal and collective transitions to living in harmony with each-other and the planet. Leadership that makes a positive difference to communities and environments is the only leadership worth practising or learning. To us, sustainability means that everyone thrives in harmony with the biosphere and future generations. That does not mean maintaining or spreading a particular way of life, but a transition from behaviours and systems that are destructive, towards those that restore the environment and support individual rights, wellbeing, and community. It implies a systemic shift; large numbers of persons and organisations acting in a significantly different way. A transition to sustainability involves promoting ecological integrity, collective wellbeing, real democracy, human rights, support for diversity, economic fairness, community resilience, a culture of peace, compassion and inquiry, and the appreciation of beauty.
Studies of positive transformations suggest this shift will require interacting cultural, economic, technological, behavioural, political and institutional developments at multiple levels. Leaders during social transformations appear to have transcended a concern for self, yet sufficiently sustained their wellbeing, and empowered others. Therefore our work seeks to connect the systemic and the personal, and mobilise insights from diverse schools of thought on how transformations occur. Consequently, our research focuses on actionable knowledge, action research, combining diverse disciplines, linking local with global, and learning from old and new teachings that arise from diverse cultural settings. With us, you will not gain a straight-jacketed PhD in management, or politics, or sociology, but produce insight that is highly relevant and interdisciplinary.
Within the framework of transition, we are particularly interested in three areas.
Transformative Leadership: how to encourage the attributes and competencies that enable someone to participate in social transformation; how organisational and societal transformations occur; how to encourage personal transformations and wellbeing through learning experiences.
Innovative Resourcing and Exchange: innovative ways for people and organisations to share, swap, rent, or exchange, with or without official money; sharing economy, collaborative consumption, complementary currency; implications for business development, international development, and policy; implications for donors and foundations, including more catalytic and transformative philanthropy.
Scaling-Up Transitions: approaches that hold potential for the scale of change required by current global challenges; public policies for scaling social innovations; transformative cross-sectoral alliances; disruptive innovations in existing markets and industries.
If your research interests relate to this, please read on about our approach, to consider whether to submit an initial inquiry.
At the Institute we will combine what is normally expected for PhDs, with our own particular emphasis on purpose-led inter-disciplinary actionable research. Many people are unaware of what researching for a PhD involves, and mistake it for the writing of a thesis/book, or the winning of a credential. The thesis and the credential are the results, but the PhD process is about becoming a reflective and skilled researcher and communicator of research. Therefore PhD research with the Institute will involve the supervisor helping the doctoral candidate with most of the following elements:
- developing and applying professionally ones sense of social purpose and without a completely fixed view. Specifically, we are interested in inquiries in personal and collective transition to fair and sustainable societies (broadly defined)
- learning how to research (how to turn ideas, beliefs or doubts into inquiries with suitable research; which means learning about ontologies, epistemologies, methodologies, methods)
- learning how to assess existing intellectual disciplines for the way they can both inform and restrict inquiry on the chosen topic; some sociology plus at least one other social science discipline are expected (relevant subjects include management, design, international development etc)
- unlearning some existing assumptions in ways that help one to become critically reflective yet action-oriented in all aspects of life and work
- learning how to analyse primary “data” of forms relevant to one’s chosen inquiry and to develop findings that are relevant to broader contexts (data can include lived experience; but then one needs to learn how to analyse ones experience, not just re-tell or re-articulate it)
- learning how to identify findings that both contribute to existing fields of knowledge, but also a particular field of practice (i.e. to seek both academic and non-academic relevance for ones work)
- learning how to communicate findings in ways that reach people in academia and beyond, including presenting findings in ways that can inform education (such as online or in-person lectures)
Proposals need to reflect some of this journey, and a thesis will need to demonstrate these outcomes were pursued and somewhat achieved. Myself and my co-supervisors will help doctoral candidates along this journey: you don’t have to have everything mapped out already, but be open to this depth of inquiry. Information on what I do is on the University website.
Still interested? Then please send me some information about yourself and your idea in the following format, by December 17th 2012.
Your Idea: Tell me in half a page what your area of research is, what your overall research question might be, why it is relevant to leadership or sustainability or transition, what existing research you have done on it, what stakeholders you have engaged about your research idea, and what existing theories/disciplines (if any) you think are relevant to it. If you have a provisional research question, then include it.
Your Motivation: Tell me in half a page why you want to explore this, in terms of your personal and professional development. Also explain how you will fund, or seek to fund, yourself, and what format you would go for (full time, full time away, part-time)
Please attach a one page CV and a sample of existing writing, ideally already published.
That is 2 pages in total (1 on research and 1 on CV), and a piece of writing.
Provide a skype ID or google talk ID so that we can interact more easily (my skype: jembendell).
I will contact you within one month of you submitting your information, potentially to discuss further your ideas and help you prepare a full proposal to the University.
Please note that information on our Institute is not yet available online – by joining the Institute you will help to shape our emerging programmes.
Dr Jem Bendell
Professor of Sustainability Leadership
Director, Institute for Leadership and Sustainability
University of Cumbria, UK
jem dot bendell at cumbria.ac.uk
Posted by jembendell on August 31, 2012
Just over five years ago I began working on the luxury industry. I thought, why cant these elite brands not excel in social and environmental performance? I researched, wrote and produced the report Deeper Luxury for WWF-UK, and it triggered a bit of a furore in the fashion press and wider luxury industry (about 8000 sites now link to the report). 5 years on, I’ve helped some luxury companies with their social and environmental impacts. But I havent seen much change. Some large firms like PPR have embraced the agenda, although we wait in anticipation for more results, in terms of positive social and environmental outcomes. In the 5 years, what inspired me the most were the entrepreneurs I met. People who were creating businesses to address social and environmental problems, and targetting the luxury segment as a way to do that. I began to realise something might be in this – that these entrepreneurs might be shaping the future of luxury, and that they might be revealing a new way we can engage in social change. In the new study, I profile sustainable luxury firms Elvis and Kresse, Tesla Motors, Shokay, Source4Style, Rags2Riches, Positive Luxury, Timothy Han and Nue Luxe… It’s called “Elegant Disruption: How luxury and society can shape each-other for good”. It took about a year to write, as it involved a lot of conversations to understand just what the potential of luxury might be to influence social change. Ill be presenting it at conferences in Brisbane and Barcelona in the coming weeks.
Abstract, August 2012.
This paper outlines the contemporary luxury sector, showing it is global, thriving and influential. It shows how creative destruction is typical in most industry sectors, including luxury, and how disruptive innovation by entrepreneurs is key to that process. It proposes that the current time is potentially disruptive for incumbent luxury brands and groups, due to five key trends that are beginning to re-frame the markets that luxury brands sell to. Sustainable luxury entrepreneurs from USA, UK, Philippines, India, Argentina, China and Hong Kong are profiled and described as pursuing “elegant disruption”: a well-designed intervention in markets that both uses and affects aspirations in ways that change patterns of consumption, production or exchange, for a positive societal outcome. The paper reviews the response of mainstream luxury brands to the sustainability agenda, proposing some possible reasons why they appear to be encumbered in embracing this agenda fully. Some of the paradoxes in the notion of “sustainable luxury” are described, in order to draw implications for both the luxury industry and people interested in positive social change. The paper draws upon the authors five years of interaction with the luxury industry on sustainability issues, and is therefore written as a “first person inquiry” and draws upon principles of “appreciative inquiry” in documenting the breakthrough approaches of some sustainable luxury entrepreneurs.
Posted by jembendell on July 3, 2012
Yesterday I was awarded a prize by Emerald publishers for Outstanding Paper 2012. Here is my recollection of I said during the cocktail party at the EABIS colloquium, IMD, Lausanne, July 3rd, 2012 (minus the dirty joke).Thank you for the Outstanding Paper award 2012. The paper is about mainstreaming innovations in sustainable and responsible business; about ways governments can help to scale up positive innovations. In the aftermath of the Rio conference, talking about progress in government policy could seem rather naïve. However, this paper shows what some governments are already doing with innovative policies to scale voluntary initiatives. Since the first Rio summit 20 years ago businesses and NGOs have worked together to create innovative certification systems. They are widespread, but they are not mainstream. For instance, the certification system of the Forest Stewardship Council, which was the focus of my very first job after leaving university, now accounts for about 11% of the world’s trade in wood and wood products. That is great, but it also means that 89% of wood products could come from trashed forests. Some governments, from all continents of the world, have been adopting innovative policies to help scale such voluntary initiatives, to achieve public goals. We present a typology of those policies.
The paper grew out of a UNCTAD study I worked on, which also informed the G20 discussions on greening international trade. So I thank my colleagues at UNCTAD who are coauthors of the paper. The support from Griffith helped me to re-purpose the research and set it in a wider context to share with academe. My research has always been shaped by what I considered relevant to change, whether in policy or practice. I haven’t always been able to have it published academically, and have previously been rejected for being too interdisciplinary. So I’m grateful for this new journal and the accolade from Emerald publishers. I supports the notion that theory should be the servant, not master, of our inquiry, and that disciplines should be our foundations, not cages.
The Outstanding Paper 2012 is available for free download for another month:
Jem Bendell, Anthony Miller, Katharina Wortmann, (2011),”Public policies for scaling corporate responsibility standards: Expanding collaborative governance for sustainable development”, Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 2 Iss: 2 pp. 263 – 293
Posted by jembendell on May 21, 2012
In the face of financial crisis and mass unemployment, do you believe we have to choose between either austerity or debt-funded economic growth? Its a false choice, based on false assumptions. My video-keynote at a forthcoming conference in Denmark, explains how we can achieve job creation without austerity or more debt, by redesigning our monetary systems.
If you are near Denmark, go join the conversation at Rebuild21.
Want to learn more? Access more materials.
Posted in Academia and Research, Counter-Globalization Movement, Occupy, Sustainable Development, Talks | Tagged: collaborative consumption, community currencies, complementary currencies, Monetary Reform | 4 Comments »
Posted by jembendell on May 9, 2012
Do you have a car pool at work? Car-sharing revenues in North America have been predicted to reach US$3.3 billion by 2016. There are many start-ups in this field, including Zipcar, which floated last year for US $174M. Enabling the more efficient exchange and sharing of products and services, in order to increase human well-being while reducing the consumption of natural resources, is a key dimension to the sustainability transition. The increasing penetration of the internet means new systems of exchanging and sharing products and services, are growing, in many areas. Facebook’s CEO has even emphasised the potential for developing new sharing enterprises as key to its future financial success, after floatation.
These developments in “collaborative consumption” bring a new dimension to the existing forms of alternative exchange systems, such as business barter networks or countertrade agreements, and community currency systems that help connect underused assets with unmet needs. Countertrade accounts for around 20% of world trade, while one national barter network now involves 1 in 5 small or medium sized companies in Switzerland, amounting to over US$1.5 billion a year. The new sphere of peer-to-peer financial-lending has taken off, and predicted to reach US$5 billion next year. It appears to be a time of disruptive innovation through new forms of sharing, exchanging, renting and co-owning.
Some of these activities are important to sustainable development, and, therefore, to the broad field of responsible enterprise (whether we label our work corporate social responsibility, sustainable business, social enterprise, shared value, responsible or impact investment, or some other term). For business executives to contribute to a positive sustainability outcome from these developments requires enhanced understanding of how to explore ways to become involved, including by adapting their own business models.
Which means there is an educational need, for those of us interested in enabling the sustainability transition. Lifeworth Consulting is conducting research on these developments, for presentation in July at the EABIS colloquium at IMD (in Lausanne), and in September at the Necessary Transition conference at GBS (in Brisbane). So, if you are currently employed, and would like to receive the results of this research, please participate in our 5 minute survey, it would really help:
Please, click that link!
Thanks, Jem Bendell
Lifeworth founder and Adjunct Professor @ GBS
Posted in Academia and Research, Corporations, Lifeworth, Sustainable Development | Tagged: business barter, collaborative consumption, community currencies, complementary currencies, countertrade, eabis, sharing economy, sustainable exchange | 2 Comments »
Posted by jembendell on March 12, 2012
It has come to my attention that you’ve taken a battering in the last few years. Apart from a handful of you, the massive failure to predict the financial crisis, and the peddling of tried-and-failed theories of how to get out of said crisis, seems to have diminished your profession’s standing. Some politicians are even listening to sociologists, who say you have have nothing useful to offer on systems for achieving greater well-being, rather than mere economic growth. Perhaps rather unkindly, some now wonder whether your assumptions about self-interest have been a severe case of projection.
I don’t like to see anyone in such a bind. Especially when I sense there is major opportunity for a turn around in your fortunes. Although I’m one of your poor-cousins (i.e. a sociologist), for the past couple of years I’ve been reading some economics, mostly on monetary systems, and mostly by those I think you call “heterodox economists.” As an active reader, I jotted down some questions that I wanted answering. As I read on, it seemed that these questions were not yet answered! I looked everywhere (well, at least not just on wikipedia) and could not find data on them. So if you work on the following questions, not only could your answers become seminal, secure yourself tenure, you might even gain a spot in the next ‘Inside Job’ movie! I hope you read on and come back with peer-reviewed articles in the coming years.
1) How much money is there is in the world, and how much debt? If the amount of debt is much higher than actual money, what mathematical models can you offer for how this will be resolved, and with what implications for overall utility?
2) Which governments do not issue bonds to private banks, or to (semi-)privately owned central banks, but issue their own money (or issue bonds to government-owned central banks that do not then sell those bonds on to private banks – the same as issuing their own money)?
3) Which governments used to issue their own money, but no longer do, and when did these changes take place?
4) How do the non-GDP aspects of the Human Development Index correlate with the periods and places of governments issuing their own money? (Just take out the “income” component from the HDI and if you have got the information on monetary policy and central bank ownership, then bingo).
I realise some of you may have a more neo-institutional approach (dare I say sociological?!), and are interested in how economics is discussed in the media, or used in public policy. So for you, I also have a couple of research questions to suggest:
5) Of the news coverage since 2008, what % of the coverage on “financial crisis” also mentions “monetary reform”? I ask, as when searching on Google, only 3% of websites mentioning “financial crisis” also mention “monetary reform”. If you find similar statistics from trawling databases of news coverage, could you create follow up questions to reveal why there is this lack of analysis?
6) How are countries receiving advice, assistance and training on monetary issues, and what interests and evidence are involved in that advice?
7) How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?
“As many as need the light.”
Ok, so I knew the answer to that one. But could the answer instead be “as many as know the light is needed?”
I’m asking these questions as they relate to my own interests in sustainable enterprise, exchange and development, and I’m not about to retrain in your wonderful arts (sorry, “science”). If you want to know why more non-economists would like you to research these issues, you can view my TEDx talk on the “money myth.” For some output from economists already engaged in related matters, I recommend “Where does Money Come from” by Professor Werner and colleagues. Other, fairly elementary, resources Ive listed on my blog.
So, dear economists, please throw new light on money. I’m waiting for illumination. Posting links to peer-reviewed work in the comments section below would be great.
Professor Jem Bendell
Adjunct Professor at Griffith Business School
Distinguished Visiting Professor at IE Business School
Posted by jembendell on January 10, 2012
Everywhere we turn, we hear people asking “how long can it go on?” Whether it is financial crisis in the West, environmental pollution in the East, or increasing prices and natural disasters everywhere, there’s a growing sense of dystopia, and of the need for more fundamental reform of our economic and political systems. Mass protests can remove leaders, but what creates a lasting positive shift in society? And what are YOU doing about it? Rather than ask “how long can it go on”, it’s time to ask “how can we move on with essential changes?”
As I read leading commentators on business responsibility and sustainability sharing their insights on trends for 2012, I saw a new boldness. People are recognising the need for ambitious goals that address root causes, including economic governance failures. At Lifeworth we have been seeking to contribute to a sustainable economic transformation and published a variety of works on that theme over the past ten years. In that time I’ve seen the more critical analyses initially ignored by leaders in favour of less challenging narratives. Yet this year I think we will see more opportunity for ‘radical’ suggestions for change to be discussed and trialled. In that sense, despite the fears, it’s the year we have been waiting for. But rather than adding to the many predictions, I’ll summarise Lifeworth’s efforts that could be of relevance if you seek to team up to strive for far greater positive change than you might have before.
The first area for transformative action in which we are engaged is policy innovations for scaling responsible enterprise and finance. Rightly or wrongly, government budgets cuts are happening in many countries. The implications for them to regulate businesses for social and environmental objectives are beginning to be felt. How then can we promote and reward better business practice, without increasing the costs to government? Leveraging private standards of social or environmental performance is one option. In work for the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), we looked at public policy innovations to scale the number of firms adhering to voluntary standards like the Forest Stewardship Council. This appeared in the World Investment Report, with the full academic study published elsewhere. The idea that these forms of ‘collaborative economic governance’ are a pragmatic response to the twin challenges of sustainable development and government efficiencies, was fed into the policy discussions leading to Rio+20, happening this June. The need now is to create systems for collecting innovative public policies for scaling responsible business, analysing which work well in what contents, and disseminating this to government officials worldwide. If you can help on this project, do get in touch.
Yet we must go further than coping mechanisms in a world of irresponsible enterprise and governance failures. The second area for transformative action, therefore, is redesigning financial systems for more fair and sustainable outcomes. Although commitments to responsible investment have existed for some years, the translation into investment practice and the realities of corporate leaders has far to go. The limitations of current environmental, social and governance (ESG) practice in empowering investors to act is one of the stumbling blocks which we analysed in 2011, sparking lively debate. Our interest in ESG is because of the potential for progressive investor influence, which is a historically novel situation. In 2012 I hope we see the emergence of a progressive voice from investors on matters of public concern. Aside from investor-business relations, the public voice of the progressive investor has been slow to emerge. The Carbon Disclosure Project has shown that on climate change investors can sound a new tune on public policy. In 2012 and beyond, we could see other forums, particularly the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), providing opportunities for progressive investors to promote policy debates that better include social and environmental priorities. Whether they will be able to counter-balance the more regressive investor resistance to financial re-regulation will be interesting to watch.
In 2012 we will continue to participate in fora that discuss the need for transformation of economic systems for sustainable development, including the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, The Finance Innovation Lab in the UK, and the Griffith University conference on transition, in Australia. As I explained in an interview for Griffith, the key stumbling block to progress on tough issues is our limiting assumptions and oversights about the real causes of our crises. During the next months I’ll be asking world leaders what they think are the key activities to drive massive positive change that weren’t possible before now, and who they need to work with to make that happen. Identifying such pressure points for massive positive change will inform our philanthropy advisory during 2012, and beyond.
One area where I think there is currently a woefully lack of attention, funding and action is in “sustainable currencies”. Current monetary systems are incompatible with the goal of a fair and sustainable economy, and thus we need greater efforts at reform, as well as at developing secure, scalable and community-owned alternative currencies and barter systems. It is, no doubt, a difficult area for many to grasp; as I experienced myself. Yet in 2011 there were strides towards greater understanding by sustainable development professionals, through the work of New Economics foundation (nef), among others. My TEDx talk on the topic reached over 12,000 views in a couple of months. As austerity bites and unemployment persists, new ways of getting people working for each other without putting governments further into debt will inevitably rise up political agendas. In 2012 we will help through collaboration with Community Forge and The Finance Innovation Lab, amongst others, and promote the uptake of ‘sustainable currencies’ as an innovative social development mechanism, through fora such as the Geneva Forum on Social Change.
What does this renewed emphasis on systemic change mean for specific industry sectors? I think the main implication is to be more ambitious in attempting to mainstream change for sustainable development. That is a third area for seeking transformative action. That has been our approach in the work we do in the luxury and mining sectors. With the organisation Fair Jewelry Action we researched and published “Uplifting the Earth: the ethical performance of high jewellery brands.” In this report we mapped out a transformative agenda for responsible jewellery, where the industry can contribute to sustainable development. From this basis, we aided De Beers’ stakeholder consultations, and worked with the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) on their training for the jewellery industry, which will be rolled out from Antwerp this year. The Spanish version of the report was launched at the world’s first Sustainable Luxury Awards, in Buenos Aires, co-organised with CSSL and the Authentic Luxury Network. The aim of these awards is to encourage sustainable innovation in the luxury sector; this year’s awards are scheduled for November. The insights from our work on transformative corporate responsibility in the luxury sector were refined for the launch of the world’s first MBA module on ‘Sustainable Luxury and Design’, which I teach at IE Business School, in Madrid. Students learn how sustainability is the smartest and most elegant paradigm within which to design anything. At the other end of the value chain, in 2012 we are working with Channel Research and the German development agency Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to encourage disclosure on the social, environmental and economic impacts and contributions of mining companies in the Congo. There are few more challenging locations for mining to align better with the goals of peace, human rights and development.
A fourth area for transformative action in 2012 is enhancing the way UN agencies and civil society organisations engage companies. There are now many cross-sectoral partnerships, and the relationships they established hold the potential for greater changes. Largescale change goals need to be connected back to practical steps that can deliver benefits in the near term for various partner organisations. That’s the thinking behind a spate of new resources on more transformative partnering that were released in 2011, including reports from the UN Global Compact, and my own book, “Evolving Partnerships: engaging business for greater social change.” During 2011 we applied our approach to developing transformative alliances in our support for the International Labour Organisation’s fight against forced labour. In 2012 we aim to help the development of their Global Business Alliance against Forced Labour.
Despite the shocking persistence of slavery today, and the general dystopian tone we hear from thoughtful people in international fora, or indeed, because of such darkness, we need a bright vision for life on Earth. That is why we are helping the Future Perfect Festival in Sweden in August. It will celebrate the brilliance and fun of sustainable lifestyles, sustainable businesses and sustainable communities. It will shine rays of light on a better way of life, beyond the dark mountains of outmoded and destructive ways of thinking, working and living. Our ability to understand values, and articulate them in professional contexts, is important when working towards a positive vision. My colleague Ian Doyle has therefore been teaching ‘voicing your values’ class at Grenoble Graduate School of Business, and we will be integrating this into various lines of work in 2012. In our forthcoming book, Healing Capitalism, Ian and I will seek to integrate both the personal and systemic levels of analysis, to aid transformative action.
In summary, we hope our 2012 will involve the following arenas of transformative action:
1) Policy innovations for scaling responsible enterprise and finance;
2) Redesigning financial and monetary systems for more fair and sustainable outcomes;
3) Mainstreaming contributions to sustainable development within specific industry sectors (including luxury, mining etc);
4) More ambitious collaborations between UN agencies, civil society organisations and companies;
5) Visions of sustainable ways of living, pathways to achieve them, and values competence to walk that path.
To better develop our work, this year we become a Swiss non-profit association. We will remain a network of independent associates, and will continue to deliver in partnership with other service providers, for a limited number of clients who seek to create meaningful change. If you can help us have an impact in these areas, I’d love to hear from you.
Professor Jem Bendell
Founder and Director, Lifeworth.com and Lifeworth Consulting
Adjunct Professor, Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, Griffith Business School
Distinguished Visiting Professor, IE Business School
Posted by jembendell on December 2, 2011
Readers of my blog will note that at the beginning of the year I reflected on the coming Rio2012 Earth Summit, and what it could be useful for. Since then the preparatory committees have got somewhat lost in definitional issues about what the “green economy” really is… oh, the farce of humanity’s efforts to do something together for our common future.
Dark grumblings aside, during the year Ive been doing some work on the economic governance needs for more sustainable development. Some of the results of that are out, with the UNCTAD World Investment Report discussing public policies for scaling CSR (I helped with the research that went in to it), and a new journal article just out where we go into some depth on a new paradigm of collaborative economic governance for sustainable development.
The UN Non Governmental Liaison Service published my opinion piece about the need to focus on economic governance, in their “Road to Rio 2012″ publication. But it was in a publication from Singapore, for the region’s enthusiasts in social enterprise, corporate responsibility and voluntary sector, where I let summed up some basic points…
“If Rio 1992 was about governments calling non-state actors to act, Rio 2012 may be about non-state actors calling on governments to join them in creating greater change.”
“…the continued lack of major global progress towards sustainable development, towards true integration of environmental and developmental priorities, should make us question [the] lack of attention to economic systems and
“Twenty years after Rio, with the old debates and fears of the Cold War well gone, we should be able to show more maturity in exploring how systemic flaws in our economic systems could be changed to improve social or environmental outcomes.”
“…it will take effort and courage, rather than mere intellect, to articulate and implement a global policy agenda that tackles some of the economic causes of social and environmental problems.”
The pdf of “Towards Rio 2012 And Collaborative Governance For Sustainable Development” is available from Singapore Management University at http://bit.ly/ukwagD