IT IS BUSINESS AS USUAL THAT IS THE UTOPIAN FANTASY...
SAFER, SMARTER, GREENER
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MOVING BEYOND BUSINESS AS USUAL On 8 November 2013, DNV GL hosted a roundtable with leading sustainability thinkers and front runners in the grand setting of the National Museum in Copenhagen. The purpose of the event was to identify actions that can break the inertia which currently prevails in the public and private spheres, and speed up the transition towards a safer and more sustainable future. The roundtable was part of a series of events leading up to the 150th anniversary of DNV GL in 2014. Rather than to celebrate past achievements, DNV GL is using the anniversary to direct attention to its vision for a safe and sustainable future. This document presents a summary of the discussion at the roundtable.
Prepared by: Cecilie A. Hultmann and Anne Louise Koefoed
ABOUT DNV GL Driven by its purpose of safeguarding life, property and the environment, DNV GL enables organisations to advance the safety and sustainability of their business. DNV GL provides classification and technical assurance along with software and independent expert advisory services to the maritime, oil & gas and energy industries. It also provides certification services to customers across a wide range of industries. Established in 1864, DNV GL operates globally in more than 100 countries with over 16,000 professionals dedicated to helping their customers make the world safer, smarter and greener.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS The grand challenge of our time
A unique meeting of the minds
Reflections by the moderator
Breakfast with Dr. Pachauri
Highlights of actions from the journey
Thinking about actions
Developing a compelling sustainability narrative Demonstrating real leadership Changing minds
Taking the next steps in the journey
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THE GRAND CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME From obesity in the OECD countries to chronic undernourishment in the developing world, from short-termism to long-term financial debts, from pollution to poverty - there is an abundance of issues that threatens human well-being. Critical resources are nearing exhaustion, the Earth is growing steadily less habitable, social instability is on the rise as disparities are widening, and a growing population is adding to these pressures. The serious challenges facing humanity are numerous and are becoming progressively more complex and interlinked.
THE PEAK GENERATION We now know that the tremendous achievements in human progress and prosperity experienced since the beginning of the 20th century has come at the expense of the planet. We are at a turning point, where the pressures of human activity are undermining our prospects for the future as well as the possibility for future generations to thrive and enjoy the same prosperity as we enjoy today. This century may very well be the one where we will see
a peak in some aspects of human development, and possibly a reversal of the progress seen so far. We are on a deeply troubling trajectory. Unless we act now and change course, we may be headed towards disaster.
A TROUBLING OUTLOOK The evidence suggests the environmental, social and economic effects of business as usual are unsustainable. We are heading towards a world in 2050 in which: àà Environment: Climate change threatens up to 40% of the earth’s species and 60% of coral reefs with extinction. Global warming has resulted in temperature increases of between 4-6oC by the end of this century. Nutrient pollution and excessive levels of waste threatens ecosystem stability, human health and economic growth. Demand for natural resources sees over 80% of the Earth’s land used by humans.
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«It’s important to keep in mind that no matter how great the challenge, we have the potential to rise to it if we work together with perseverance and diligence» Henrik Madsen, President & CEO of DNV GL Group
àà Social: A growing and ageing global population of 9 billion, 53% of whom will live in areas of water scarcity, and requiring a 70% increase in food production to meet basic food security. Around 200 million people are likely to be displaced by climate change factors. Rising conflicts and social unrest as a result of competition for scarce resources. àà Economic: Sluggish economic growth and severe income disparities within and between countries. A world where although emerging markets grow faster than the developed world, their living standards remain stubbornly stuck between 25-60% of those in the US.
A MORAL RESPONSIBILITY TO ACT We are left with little uncertainty with regards to the consequences of our current ways. But despite the abundance of analysis indicating where we are headed and the changes needed, the current level of action is insufficient to take us to where we need to be. We must move now, but existing knowledge is not adequately acted upon and society's response is slow. Moving beyond old thinking and business as usual practices is essential to ensuring a transition to a safe and sustainable future. Whereas industrialization was the great project of modernity, sustainability has become the greatest project of our time. The question is: will mankind step up, take responsibility and meet this challenge in time to avert major crises?
Evidenced by the above, business as usual is risky, costly and unsustainable. It will increasingly constrain the ability of business to operate and societies to thrive. In fact, it is business as usual that is the utopian fantasy1.
1) Phrase coined in State of the World 2013, Worldwatch Institute.
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AGE RANGE FROM
18 –73 4 360 500
FOLLOWERS OF PARTICIPANTS OR THEIR ORGANISATIONS ON TWITTER
A UNIQUE MEETING OF THE MINDS WHO
FRONT RUNNERS from business, faith and civil society organizations, government, media and academia
To discuss ACTIONS to move BEYOND BARRIERS
TRANSITION to a safe and sustainable future
«One of the most important shifts we must make is to accept that our economy is not an entity unto itself. It is a sub-system of the ecosystem and should be a servant of society - not dominate it. Until we get our heads around that we’ll continue to be in the mess we’re in.»
«In truth most people are not willing to make a sacrifice today to get an uncertain benefit for their children or grandchildren 30-60 years in the future. That underlies inaction in parliaments, the market and at the individual level.»
«We have to go faster. Business needs to account for sustainability and it must engage non-sustainability people and wider society with new measures and new indicators.»
Jørgen Randers, Norwegian
Rob Cameron, SustainAbility
Marina Grossi, Brazil Business Council for Sustainable
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«We have lost the view that we must win a war. It is ok with progress, but this is not enough. We need to realize that we are in a war situation.» Erik Rasmussen, Monday
«‘We need to tell the story of nature, which is completely absent. And the story must be about nature’s value in and of itself… not just as part of a human end.» Tristram Stuart, Author and Campaigner
«What economy is it we would like to see? We need to shift financial capitalism to a more holistic capitalism defined by environmental and social capital as-well as economic capital.» John Fullerton, Capital Institute
«Anti-corruption is priority number one… at the same time we need to do everything we can to advance the priority issues of poverty, exclusion and scarcity.» Georg Kell, UN Global Compact
«Neither governments nor civil society can do it. Only business is large enough, and resourceful enough, to really generate change.» L. Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism Solutions
«If we help religious leaders to understand sustainable development, they can communicate this better than anyone else. They can move the masses.» Bawa Jain, World Council of Religious Leaders
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BUILDING MOMENTUM In the months leading up to the roundtable, a series of interventions with the participants were designed to inspire reflections around the meaning of a safe and sustainable future and what it takes to move beyond current thinking about solutions and towards actions that hold the potential to generate real transformative change.
1 The DNV story A short introductory animation presenting DNV GL and why a safe and sustainable future is important to us. «DNV GL was established in 1864 as an independent institution with the purpose to safeguard life, property and the environment. We started out in maritime transportation, but as we continued to grow we moved into new markets… gaining deep technical competence… staying in the forefront of knowledge and expertise, advancing safety and sustainability - to help our customers keep standards high, and risks low.»
2 Interviews with participants All roundtable participants were interviewed for their personal vision of a safe and sustainable future and the most important actions needed to change course. A key question was: “What characterises a safe and sustainable future?”
«The global economy has managed to shift its reliance on fossil fuels and reduce as much wastage as possible. We all move into a global economy where it’s low carbon and where it’s green.» Jessica Cheam
«A sustainable future is one where the kids’ voices matter as much as those of the older generations.» Alec Loorz
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«The fundamental change is that power has devolved to the edges and become more transparent.» Bright Simons
«A sustainable future is not just about surviving. It’s actually having a good time as well. Everybody - us, and future generations have the ability to make our dreams come true, and we do that in a way that doesn’t compromise anybody else’s ability to make his or her dreams come true.» Kevin Noone
3 Understanding barriers Knowledge about what needs to be done to transition to a low-carbon, green and equitable future is widespread. However, action is still not happening at the scale and speed needed. In preparation for the roundtable, analysis done by DNV GL researchers identified 39 major barriers preventing the transition towards sustainability. The barriers ranged from cognitive and behavioural barriers such short-termism and materialistic values, to market barriers such as perverse subsidies, through governance, technological and societal barriers. The map of barriers was shared with the participants prior to the roundtable, and served as a starting point for discussion.
4 Sharing perspectives To introduce participants to each other prior to the roundtable, brief videos where each participant was asked to share their perspective on the most important action needed to speed up the transition towards a more sustainable future were produced and shared with the group.
5 The Roundtable
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REFLECTIONS BY THE MODERATOR There is something of a mystery about the process of change. Even when we think all the pieces of a particular puzzle are in place, there is no certainty that what we hope will happen will indeed manifest. So when it comes to addressing the many sustainability challenges the world faces, what is the best approach to take?
The simple truth is that when you look at the most respected global figures who are held up as icons of transformation, such as Nelson Mandela and Gandhi, you quickly realize is was not so much the facts at their fingertips that was most important but the fire in their belly.
Good quality data and analytics are important but not enough on their own to create the transformation.
So to be effective change agents, it is vital that we better understand everything from our motivations and the way we approach issues to the reasons behind our successes and the learnings from our failures.
The reason we know this is because we are not adequately responding to issues ranging from climate change and resource scarcity to deep inequalities and the loss of biodiversity, despite being awash with information about problems and the ways to fix them.
We constantly talk about the need for creating resilience and adaptation in the world around us, without recognising how important it is to build these into our own ways of acting in the world.
So what is missing? Most important of all is the recognition that we are human beings and not just human doings, which means we need to engage our hearts as well as our minds. It was with this in mind that I chaired DNVâ€™s roundtable of sustainability experts in Copenhagen. While the purpose of the event was to find some of the key breakthrough ideas in order to scale up change, what we concentrated on to begin with was an understanding of the challenges we have faced individually as change agents and how we have overcome them. The reason this is important can be found in the old saying that 95% of people try to change the world around them but only 5% have the courage to seek to change themselves.
The benefit of going through this process, is that there is something magical and at the same utterly human that can come from sharing our inner torments and successes; just ask any analyst, counselor or executive coach. My other motivation for concentrating on our own effectiveness as individuals was the learning I received from my masters degree in sustainability in business practice at Bath University. The focus was on action learning, which involves cycles of consciously reflecting on the way we approach issues and the impacts we have. If we fail to do this, then we remain subject to our unconscious, which is made up of feelings, thoughts and urges that result from our past feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict.
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«Remember the Arab proverb … trust in God but don't forget to tie up your camel. We can have faith but it doesn’t let us off the need to take action too.» Jo Confino, Editor, Guardian Sustainable Business Network
As Jung noted, if we fail to get to grips with the unconscious, “it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
As Thomas Berry said: “It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble now because we don’t have a good story.”
The second part of the roundtable focussed on identifying the key issues that will help transcend the current level of sustainability progress, which is incremental at best.
John Fullerton, one of the roundtable participants, is seeking to provide that very narrative through the development of what he has coined ‘regenerative capitalism.’
We discussed more than a dozen key sustainability solutions, ranging from natural capital valuation to education initiatives, but what was felt to be most important was being able to tell the story of the future we all want and to truly believe it is feasible.
He puts the challenge of our times more eloquently than I could: “Dana Meadows suggested that the most important leverage point for enabling system change is to change the paradigm, or belief structure, within which a system operates. We must evolve beyond the outdated mechanistic worldview and impossible exponential growth paradigm which defines contemporary economics and finance, to a regenerative paradigm grounded in the holistic ecological or living systems worldview of contemporary science.”
Story telling is in our blood and it is vital that we are able to answer the question of how to create a healthy and prosperous society within environmental and social limits. Our failure so far to create this compelling narrative means that we have no way of knowing if the many individual sustainability initiatives and projects currently underway are genuinely moving us towards the very transformation we hope for.
Now that sets the heart beating and the mind spinning.
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BREAKFAST WITH DR. PACHAURI To set the stage, the roundtable started off with an exclusive interview with the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri.
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«If we do nothing, sea level rise at the upper end of the range, will be 0.98 meters by the end of the century. Every continent will be affected - the entire contour of land areas and geography of this planet will be changed.» Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri
Highlighting the results from the recently released Fifth Assessment Report of IPCC (September 2013), Pachauri started off by stating its main conclusion, namely that it is ‘extremely likely [with 95 percent certainty] that humans are responsible for the warming since the mid-20th century’. Urgent mitigation of greenhouse gases is needed, he said, to stabilize the climate of this planet. But, he argued, this is not enough. Due to slow responses, we are locked into some degree of climatic change, and solutions must now also involve adaptation measures. This concerns all stakeholders. Many businesses are located in areas which will be severely affected by climate change, and will need to start preparing for this. Businesses do not operate in isolation, and collaboration with governments and civil society is needed to develop effective solutions. Dr. Pachauri highlighted the importance of spreading awareness of the current climate projections widely. Whereas the IPCCs role is to produce knowledge, it is vital that its messages are understood by the public. The media are particularly important in this regard, to treat the findings of the scientific community and spread message to people worldwide. Awareness building is the first and most important step to bringing about action. We urgently need massive awareness about the implications of not taking action – both to present and future generations - and the relative ease of taking action. When pressed on whether he felt there is a growing understanding of how urgently action is required, Dr. Pachauri responded that we are ‘close to a tipping point’ which will lead to significant responses and ultimately new behaviours. If that takes on collective strength, undoubtedly we can obtain results and minimize the risks from climate change in the future.
However, Dr. Pachauri warned that we do not have the luxury of time. The next two years are absolutely critical, he said, with the release of the full Fifth Assessment Report next year, and to lay the grounds for a new climate agreement at the COP 21 in Paris in 2015. “I hope our responses are rational. I hope leaders in business, politics, civil society think about where we are going, and what that implies in terms of the future of humanity and the species on this planet – and what we can do that really is not all that difficult”. So where will the change come from? Dr. Pachauri saw community level initiatives as paramount drivers. Political will is needed, but the strength of what we achieve will come from the grass roots level, which can push decisions upwards in the system to the national level as well as act as inspirational examples. The conversation finally touched on the movement from highlighting problems to focusing on actions and opportunities – towards the positive aspects of dealing with the climate challenge. Dr. Pachauri referred to the benefits of mitigation, like energy security, lower levels of air pollution, health benefits, and jobs. The co-benefits of a structural shift are attractive for human wellbeing and welfare. This movement, he emphasized, is part of the change in mindsets that we need.
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HIGHLIGHTS OF ACTIONS FROM THE JOURNEY2 1. THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY Re-align supply chains systematically for ‘cradle-to-cradle’ management of materials flows.
2. EQUITY Incentivise green job creation, using inclusive business models, to move towards global equity.
3. TRUE COST/TRUE VALUE Create global mechanisms that fairly price ecosystems services, natural resources and externalities. This includes putting a price on carbon.
4. NEW METRICS Create and report on new measures of progress and prosperity beyond GDP.
5. EDUCATIONG GIRLS Provide secondary education for girls in developing countries.
6. EDUCATION Embed sustainability thinking in all education.
7. CHANGING MINDSETS
Create a compelling sustainability narrative that resets our mindset towards the economy.
8. GLOBAL VISION & PRIORITIES
Agree on global priorities and a system for national monitoring, reporting and verification for sustainable development targets.
9. CORRUPTION Strengthen capacity of independent audit/ review commissions to combat corruption and vested interests
10. GLOBAL GOVERNANCE Strengthen governance of the global commons and international institutions to counterbalance national short-termism.
11. GREEN TECHNOLOGY Scale existing and new technologies by shifting capital flows from ‘brown to green’ investments.
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12. TRANSPARENT DISCLOSURE
13. THE BUSINESS CASE
18. VALUE NATURE
Make integrated sustainability reporting mandatory for all organisations.
Demonstrate the business case for sustainability and clarify its effect on the bottom line.
14. INFORMED DECISION MAKING Align public and private decision-making with scientific evidence and priorities.
Create trust between disparate groups that will need to work together to find solutions.
Protect and value natural habitats not just for ecosystem services but also in their own right.
19. LAND USE Introduce global land use management system to restrict conversion to arable land
20. NEW ECONOMIC MODEL Rethink the purpose of the economy by introducing the principles of the regenerative economy.
15. COLLABORATION Identify effective collaboration models to overcome complex sustainability challenges.
16. GREEN ECONOMY
Incentivize sustainable investment, business and behaviour.
21. AFRICA Use Africa as a test bed for the most innovative sustainability solutions because of its leapfrogging potential.
22. DIVERSITY Diversity in leadership : 50/50 men and women running companies
2) This overview presents suggested actions to move towards greater sustainability, picked up from interviews with the roundtable participants, from the roundtable discussion itself, and from analysis done in preparation for the event. The list is not ranked, and is by no means exhaustive.
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THINKING ABOUT ACTIONSâ€Ś A diverse group of leaders, representing a wide range of sectors, geographies, backgrounds and age groups met in Copenhagen. By bringing such mix of perspectives together, the aim was to explore the possibility for come up with new ideas with respect to actions that can effectively overcome barriers blocking change.
Interestingly, despite the vastly different backgrounds of participants, and the variety of actions that were touch upon during the day, three themes resonated as the most promising to deliver change:
1. Creating a new compelling
sustainability narrative 2. Demonstrating visionary and
transformative leadership 3. Changing mindsets and behaviour
A new compelling STORY
Changing MINDSETS and BEHAVIOUR
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THE NEED FOR A COMPELLING SUSTAINABILITY NARRATIVE
A clear message that emerged from the roundtable was the urgent need for a more widely shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities sustainability poses. Simply put: the world needs a common language of sustainability that is at once transformative and realistic, and that communicates, simplifies, and inspires. A story about the challenges, the consequences of doing nothing and a vision of the desirable future destination that we would like to see. Many of the participants felt this was a key starting point for change.
SPEAK TO HEARTS AND MINDS Inertia prevails in the private and public domain, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that we are moving towards greater challenges. Rationally we know that, through the choices we make every day, we have the power to change our destiny. However, the objective rational approach has only taken us so far. Facts appear to have insufficient capacity to compel change.
«There are now discussions between the idea of stranded assets and a stranded planet. Those words, that idea, has changed the debate.» Connie Hedegaard
There is nothing as powerful for changing mindsets as a good story, well told. Focusing on the delivery of information will not suffice to discourage the continuation of arrested patterns of behaviour and business as usual. Stories are needed that touch us on many levels – emotional as well as rational. We need to tell compelling stories about sustainability that speaks to hearts and minds, to change behaviours. We need to start telling an alternative story, and create new myths, that begin to formulate what the desired sustainable world looks like. This will help us see clearer what we really desire, as well as the new paths of actions, practices and solutions needed to get there. Visions help orient actions towards goals located in the future, and a compelling sustainability story would create a backdrop of understanding and foundation for setting in motion new ways of thinking and new courses of action.
«Shell brings scenarios into the world to transparently create dialogue - creating memories of the future that people can act on.» Jeremy Bentham
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SO WHAT ARE WE TRYING TO TELL A STORY ABOUT? The roundtable discussed the various chapters of the new story. Which stories need to be retold to urge a shift, and what is the compelling future vision that needs to be articulated? Highlighting the flaws in the current, dominant way of thinking and operating must be pushed continuously: àà The dominant human-centric view and the disconnectedness of humans from nature and from other people. Our values lean towards money and materialistic goods, and the predominant trigger is short-term personal gain, convenience and growth. àà The flawed model of capitalism, coming at a cost to both people and the planet. The story that we cannot maintain capitalism the way it is. àà The story about the flaws of democracy that postpones and postpones, unable to make much needed, but unpopular decisions. àà The story about insufficient and wrongly directed leadership. àà The story about intergenerational inequity. The voiceless future generations to whom we have bequeathed severe debt and environmental issues, but of which they are unaware.
àà The story about the price tag of business as usual. It is imperative that people understand what is at stake - the risks - and that business as usual leads to a risky and costly future.
«The public needs to be mobilized as a resource hence the need to focus on communication, language, mindset as part of the art of engagement.» Erik Rasmussen
A viable alternative must be sketched out to be a driving force for steps towards more radical change. The new story must be fine-tuned to different stages of thinking and ingrained habits, and speak to the concerns of different stakeholders. In other words, several stories must be written. Several titles were proposed: àà The 21 Century Capitalism Story: about a new economy, revamping the purpose of the economy to increase the wellbeing of most citizens, not just to generate GDP, but to enable people to live their lives in meaningful ways. Rethinking the notion of growth, the purpose of capital and the measurement of all types of capital as proposed by the principles of the regenerative economy.
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àà The Green Economy and Job Creation Story sketching out the economy we would like to see and the business case, such as green energy investment, enabling sustainable products and value chains. Due to the ongoing financial crisis worldwide, the story needs to focus heavily on generating new jobs. àà The Leadership Story demanding bigger and bolder things of individuals (CEOs), businesses and organisations. A new story about the purpose of leadership. Motivating top-down action by targeting G20, IMF, World Bank, industry associations, multinationals and powerful individuals. àà A New Story about Africa as a test bed for the most innovative sustainability solutions because of the leapfrogging potential. àà The Community Resilience Story motivating bottom-up action. City centres and communities around the world need the tools and a menu of options to build a safe and sustainable future. The story of resolving the crises – environmental, economic, societal – together. àà The Value of Nature Story, about Nature’s value in and of itself and not just as part of a human end. àà The Boardroom Story, capturing the attention of boardrooms around the world by focusing on risks and potential opportunities. A story about
innovation, future winners and losers and driving change in business-to-business relations, through collaboration and in linkage to consumers. àà The New Hero of our society, who is thrown into a dangerous situation beyond their control, and who is forced to act, struggles to survive and ultimately succeeds. The work of sociologist Joseph Campbell, and his concept of the universal ‘heroic journey’, was mentioned as a basis for this new story. FROM WORDS TO IMPACT Some concerns were raised regarding the potential of a new sustainability narrative to deliver impact. Firstly, with the emergence of the internet, social media and other forms of technology, we are increasingly overloaded with information and our minds distracted from focusing on a single narrative. How can the sustainability narrative stand out and be powerful enough to gain and retain attention, when we receive so many messages? And how can a compelling sustainability narrative be told in 140 characters? This was identified as a significant challenge. Secondly, without the institutional framework to deliver the story and put it into practice, there would still be a gap between aspiration and achievement. Thus a focus on competence development and capacity building of institutions is vital for delivering impact.
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THE NEED FOR TRANSFORMATIVE LEADERSHIP
The second theme which resonated throughout the day concerned leadership. Many participants expressed a deep concern with how leadership is understood and executed today, and the apparent disconnect of most leaders from a greater purpose, serving a greater good. We need a fundamental shift in the quality of leadership, across all domains, if we are to bring about a shift towards a more sustainable future. Leaders across all domains must rise to the challenge and take responsibility for steering the world towards a resilient, stable and equitable future within the environmental limits of the planet.
WHAT DOES 21ST CENTURY LEADERSHIP LOOK LIKE? A general argument was that leaders need to move away from short-term thinking and immediate rewards, and start to focus on delivering longer-term outcomes. Whether in the political, private, academic or religious domain, a greater focus on leading for a sustainable future was emphasized. Leadership priorities must be aligned with sustainability. Few individuals and organisations show this type of real transformative leadership today.
The younger participants highlighted that trust is earned by leaders. Leadership comes with responsibility as leaders step into roles to serve beyond themselves. Leadership has to be balanced with something greater. The overarching understanding that leaders must convey is that the kind of growth needed for the future must be created in a different way than growth created in the past.
ÂŤLeadership is about acting with responsibility. It has to be balanced with something greater. Now leadership does not have this depth of meaning.Âť Alec Loors This quality of leadership is needed both in countries that have the potential to leapfrog in their development, by applying the most innovative sustainability solutions, as well as in industrialized countries that now have to move from development to redevelopment.
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«Now that climate change has become a matter of life and death for the species, it is time for scientists to abandon their scrupulous neutrality, and enter into the messy arena of politics» Kim Stanley Robinson, New Yorker (12.12.2013)
RISING TO THE CHALLENGE Ambassadors of change exist in all domains. Frontrunners have for long been knocking on the door of transformation, but issues and challenges must also be understood in the mainstream arenas and in the streets. Politicians, business leaders, civic and religious leaders - all need to make the case for sustainability and ensure everyone knows what to do in their personal and professional lives to advance that goal.
«There is a lack of trust in the world. Trust in the business community is coming down. Who do the next generation really trust?» Henrik O. Madsen
Business leaders Trust in business and private sector institutions has been falling steadily for many years. At the same time, trust is essential for building relationships with customers, partners, employees, regulators and communities - vital for the conduct of business. Some roundtable participants expressed opinions that business is losing trust because they it simply not leading.
To restore trust, business leadership must be invigorated and reconnected with social progress. Leaders losing this sense of unity risk being harshly scrutinized and lose legitimacy and reputation in the market place. The notion of ‘servant leadership’ was described. A strong leader would create the conditions for their colleagues to thrive, professionally and personally. The CEO is in effect a ‘servant’ to their success. Although not yet common in business, this model was highlighted as a possible way forward. Business leaders also need to show courage, and voice concerns that may be uncomfortable to hear or which are unpopular. By clearly articulating positions such as ‘business as usual cannot continue’, business leaders can help to create the conditions for change. When it came to the relationship between markets and regulation, several participants called for more business leaders to support and advocate for good regulation to set the framework for business innovation. Individual businesses and lobby groups and associations representing business often hinder legislation. Leading business figures should welcome a clear policy framework with appropriate targets and price signals.
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Leading businesses must also become advocates for change within their industries and communities. Many companies are doing good things, but the question is how to get the views of individual companies into the mainstream? Business must move into the political discussion with visibility. Big powerful organisations can make an impact.
«Business must get into the political discussion with visibility. People listen when business speaks out.» Connie Hedegaard
There also needs to be a fundamental rethink of the current financial system. The idea of a ‘regenerative economy’ was highlighted as a promising model distinct from mainstream economic thinking. It recognizes the need to regenerate the original capital assets, such as the Earth, based not on a mechanistic view of the world but seeing human activity as part of a holistic, living system.
Importantly, political leaders must dare to make unpopular decisions and implement solutions today that costs more in the short term but which will avoid much greater costs in the future.
«The real core problem of this era is that we need solutions that are more expensive. It will cost us more today than the cheapest solutions available, but this is to avoid much greater costs in the future. But no one is willing to make this decision today’» Jørgen Randers
Scientific leaders The science community must also take responsibility to lead by developing a stronger voice. The tone of communications taken by the IPCC came in for criticism. The language of ‘likelihood’ and ‘medium confidence’ is not strong enough to encourage action with the necessary degree of urgency in the mind of the public.
«The current system sees us optimizing financial capital at the expense of environmental capital. We need to optimize all forms of capital and recycle financial capital into values that matter.»
Perhaps, it is time that the IPCC to send out clearer messages about knowing enough. Clearer statements such as: We now know and the next data point is not going to make a big difference to that conviction.
Religious leaders The unique ability of religious leaders to communicate to the masses was also discussed. This holds great potential for reaching the vast majority of the world’s population with messages about sustainable development. Equipped with a message about our moral obligation to safeguard the Earth for future generations, religious leaders, currently predominantly focused on the past can become a force for future good. Moreover, religions leaders should communicate the simple actions people can take in their everyday lives, and benefits from doing them.
Political leaders Also in the political domain, there is a need for closer alignment with sustainability priorities and for long-term thinking. Today, many countries are reversing their environmental focus because of the economic crises, but what is needed is a focus on how sustainability strategies can help solve these two crises together. Political leaders must provide the enabling framework, through good regulation and incentives, for large scale transitions to occur. Regulation to safeguard long term societal priorities is required to counterbalance short-term thinking in markets. The central role of policy makers and regulators is to catalyse action from business and to create the conditions for businesses to invest with confidence. Political leaders must get the price signals right and incentivize the right development; and set targets to steer the market in the right direction.
However, there is currently a knowledge gap among religious leaders, and a need to educate them on sustainability messages. In this regard, a possible collaboration between business leaders and religious leaders was highlighted as one promising route.
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24 TOWARDS A SAFE AND SUSTAINABLE FUTURE ROUNDTABLE MEETING REPORT
CHANGING MINDSETS AND BEHAVIOUR
So how can we apply narratives to today’s global challenges and, most importantly, how to move from compelling stories to action? As a society we have the opportunity to avert crisis, and with the inadequate response to tackle pressing societal and environmental problems; it becomes ever more important to inspire individuals and communities to take on action. Storytelling is central to the creation of awareness and mindsets, and new stories may move the few and, hopefully, the many into new action. People must understand and view themselves in relation to a larger purpose. When people understand that their own lives and the lives of their children will be affected, it can generate anger and action. For example, climate change, it was argued, is not just a science issue. It is about what we value, what is core to society as it affects the future state of livelihood for all.
«Climate change is no longer a scientific or a political issue, it is about values.» Alec Loorz
The effectiveness of the compelling sustainability narrative ultimately relates to whether or not it manages to change behaviour. The future is the outcome of the millions of choices individuals make every day. People, not organisations, make decisions. Real power and demand for change can be exerted while voting, voicing opinions and spending money. To move mindsets, the compelling story must make people: àà Understand – the big picture, the implications of inaction and why change is urgent. àà React - by connecting to individual and personal lives, triggering change in values and choices. àà Inspired - by demonstrating that an alternative path is possible and creating visibility around solutions.
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GETTING THE MESSAGE ACROSS Technology The roundtable discussed the untapped potential of technology to get the message across and reach larger audiences. Technology platforms can be used to push and spread messages to the streets to change opinions. Technology, such as mobile phones, can be used to reach people in underserved communities and emerging growth markets. Again the discussion highlighted the importance of communicating tangible actionable things, inspirational examples, role models and examples to follow.
«Business is a vital agent of change. Engineers can build and apply new technology; advertisers can change opinion and spread the message to the world. We have tens of millions of people who are eager to do stuff; it just needs a message to make it sexy.» Nathan Eagle
Art Participants also agreed on the need to explore new forms of communication, such as involving young artists, designers and film makers to reach a wider audience. If you want to engage people in the streets, you need to find the right language. Art can be powerful, and can reach out to and engage people more than facts.
«Imagine how much we have invested in new technology, compared to in communications. We should invest much more in communicating in an inspiring and engaging manner.» Erik Rasmussen
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TAKING THE NEXT STEPS IN THE JOURNEY DNV GL’s sustainability journey will continue. Our Vision as an organisation is “Global Impact for a Safe and Sustainable Future”. This will continue to guide our efforts in the years to come. The roundtable has given us a better understanding about what the world needs to do to move in the right direction. We also appreciate more than ever the importance of working together as we collectively write the next chapter in humanity’s story. The roundtable will be reconvened in Oslo, on 15-16 June 2014 to continue the conversation.
As a step forward to influence positive change, DNV GL will integrate sustainability into our management system certification services reaching 80,000 customers around the globe.
«We all agree on challenges and inadequacy of current actions. And we know that business as usual is not an option. We need collaboration, need to create awareness, and we need to find a balance which involves acting on science, raising standards, using and qualifying technology for purpose» Henrik Madsen, President and CEO of DNV GL Group
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PARTICIPANTS The roundtable brought together a wide cross-section of leading voices on sustainability. This mix of people was designed to create a meeting of all the talents, inspiring original thinking to help find solutions to some of the most important challenges the world faces today.
HENRIK O. MADSEN
Chief Executive Officer, DNV (Chair)
Vice Present of Business Environment and Head of Scenarios, Shell
Executive Editor of the Guardian and Editorial Director of Guardian Sustainable Business (Moderator)
RAJENDRA KUMAR PACHAURI
TRISTRAM STUART Author and Campaigner
Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
European Commissioner for Climate Action
Secretary-General, The Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, The World Council Of Religious Leaders
Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact
Founder of iMatter, Kids Vs. Global Warming. Winner of DNVâ€™s Future Sustainability Leaders competition
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Professor of Climate Strategy, Norwegian Business School
Vice President, Global Triple Bottom Line Management, Novo Nordisk
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Jana; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Harvard Universityl
Head of Maersk Maritime Technology
MARINA GROSSI Executive Director, Brazil Business Council for Sustainable Development
KEVIN NOONE Director of Swedish Secretariat for Environmental Earth System Sciences; Professor of Meteorology at the Department of Applied Environmental Science at Stockholm University
JACK LIU Director, Michigan State University’s Centre for Systems Integration and Sustainability
JESSICA CHEAM Editor, Eco-business.com
JOHN FULLERTON Founder and President, Capital Institute
L. HUNTER LOVINS President, Natural Capitalism Solutions
ROBERT ENGELMAN President of the Worldwatch Institute
SVEN MOLLEKLEIV Senior Vice President, GNV GL Group; President, The Norwegian Red Cross
OSVALD BJELLAND ROB CAMERON
Chairman and CEO, Xyntéo
Executive Director, SustainAbility
BJØRN K. HAUGLAND
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Monday Morning / Sustainia.
Executive Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, DNV GL Group
SAFER, SMARTER, GREENER
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Reflections from our sustainability roundtable in Copenhagen, November 2013.