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January 17th, 2014
MDH, DHL Express und Sirona engagieren sich für die zahnmedizinische Versorgung in Ruanda


DHL und Sirona unterstützen ein von der MDH AG initiiertes Hilfsprojekt mit dem Transport von Behandlungsstühlen sowie deren Installation und Wartung. Der Transport von vier Sirona C8+ Behandlungsstühlen nach Ruanda ist Teil eines nachhaltigen Hilfsprojekts zur Verbesserung der Zahngesundheit in Ruanda, das von der MDH AG, Mülheim an der Ruhr, und Mamisch Hilft e.V. initiiert wurde.

September 5th, 2013
Top 10 tips for teaching CSR and business ethics


It's time again for the start of the new school year in universities across much of the globe. For us, this typically means updating course outlines, refreshing our teaching materials and getting ready to hopefully engage and excite a new cohort of students looking to learn about corporate responsibility.

There are many ways to teach courses on CSR or business ethics. Some approaches suit particular professors or groups of students better. But over the years, we've discovered that, as far as teaching in business schools is concerned, there are some fairly common do's and don'ts that can make teaching in this field more effective.  Not everyone will agree with all of these, but here's our list of the 10 best ways to ensure a positive learning experience in ethics and CSR.

1. Be clear and realistic about what you can achieve.
All good courses start with a clear set of learning objectives. This is particularly important in corporate responsibility courses because there are so many different types of outcome that an instructor might be aiming for. Do you want to make your students more ethical managers? Do you want to improve their decision making? Do you want them to be able to practice CSR, or to have a more critical perspective on it? Think about not only what is most important to you, but, most importantly, what you think your students hope t learn. But beware of expecting too much - you're never going to change your students' values in a couple of months of teaching.

2. Use current events to engage students.
Teaching ethics and CSR isn't easy, but one thing we do have an advantage in is that there is hardly a day that goes by without our subject being in the news. This is a golden opportunity to demonstrate to students that what they are learning in the classroom has immediate relevance in the real world. Don't waste it!  

3. Start with a problem or issue, not with a theory
In our experience, business school students respond best when they recognize there's a problem to be fixed and then you give them some theories or concepts to help them do so. So start with a problem - whether a case study, a news story, or your own experience - and then use this to hook them on why theory matters - not the other way round! Starting with the theory and then showing how it applies runs the risk of losing the students' interest too early. It might work for some, but it's a risky strategy.

4. Students’ own experience is valuable class material – don’t waste it!
We are constantly surprised by the rich variety of  experience and opinion that our students have had in corporate responsibility, even without ever having a formal CR position. This is a real treasure chest for teachable moments, when you can flip what you're teaching in the classroom to help students make sense of their own past or current experience. And the rest of the class can learn so much from this too. It brings everything into such clear focus about the here and now rather than some abstract case in a textbook.

5. Don't preach.
In our opinion it is important to avoid imposing a single theoretical position or set of values on students, regardless of what your own perspective on corporate responsibility might be. There are few unequivocal right or wrong answers in this field. So the goal should be to help students understand the breadth of perspectives on the issues at hand and enable them to find their own position not to impose one on them. The professor's job should be more like that of a coach than a preacher.

6. Don’t confuse ‘there are no right and wrong answers’ with ‘there are no better and worse answers’.
The first statement is largely true. The second one is not. One of our most important jobs is to enable students to make better decisions, and to come up with better answers than just simple moral relativism : "my opinion is just as valid as anyone else's". A valid opinion, or a good answer, is one supported by fact, reason, evidence and logic. This may not mean that the answer is right from any universal moral perspective, but is should mean that it gets an A when you're doing your grading - even if you don't agree with the answer!

7. Use (but do not abuse) the business case 
Rightly or wrongly, the business case is the most powerful tool for any corporate responsibility advocate in the workplace. If you can show how a CR initiative will create business opportunities or reduce risks, it has a much better chance of getting approved. So teaching the business case is a crucial part of any course. But there is more to responsibility than only the business case. A good course needs to consider other social and ethical arguments for corporate responsibility beyond the business case so that students do not get trapped inside a purely self-interested mindset.

8. Be mindful of the limits posed by particular forms of business and business system. Not all companies are publicly-held corporations, and not all systems of governance work like the US where the shareholder is king. When teaching corporate responsibility it is essential to help students recognize this, especially if they are using a US textbook. Small firms, privately held companies, co-ops, mutuals, B Corps, social enterprises, etc - these all operate by different rules that give rise to different limits and opportunities for social responsibility. Likewise, the governance of large companies in continental Europe, Asia and and Latin America is quite different from in the Anglo-American system. Corporate responsibility is best understood as a practice than happens within particular constraints - and students need to know exactly what those constraints are in different parts of the world and in different parts of the economy.

9. Provide a good structure for learning. 
This is true for any course, but its easy to forget how important good structure is for good learning when there are so many juicy issues to get your teeth into in our field. An effective course will use a clear relevant organizing framework (such as themes, stakeholders, theories), not just a list of issues. Think about a course as series of building blocks - what's the foundation and what are you aiming at reaching at the pinnacle?

10. Remember to link with other business subjects and courses
Corporate responsibility is not an island. It needs to be linked and embedded with the other subjects that students are taking. Hopefully some of this will be happening in those other courses, but our job as a corporate responsibility professor is also to make those links clear for our students so that they don;t see ethics and social responsibility as add-ons separate from "real" business. So bring in elements of strategy, or marketing, supply chain management, accounting, finance - whatever it is that makes sense in the context of what you are teaching. A joined-up curriculum leads to joined-up thinkers - and one way or another we need a whole lot more of them out there.

Photo ©Schulich School of Business


April 8th, 2013
Margaret Thatcher’s unacknowledged grandchild


The death of Baroness Thatcher is dominating today's news. Despite the euologic praises heaped now posthumously on the ‘iron lady’ one cannot overlook one common thread: ambiguity. Yes, she modernized Britain, but for whom? She was a war leader, bu...

March 11th, 2013
Fun facts about corporate accounting scandals


Regular readers will know that we have a soft spot for corporate responsibility infographics. The one below, which recently crossed our desk courtesy of Accounting-degree.org, provides a nice overview of some of the big corporate accounting scandals of...

February 15th, 2013
Unilever and responsible capitalism: a "licence to lead"


Over the past two days, we've had the good fortune to hear up close what Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, has to say about responsible capitalism and the role of Unilever in making the world a better place. Polman has been in Toronto speaking in the Bata ...

December 1st, 2012
3D Printing and the Ethics of Value Creation


A technology that adds value to our lives is an ethically good thing. A technology that enables a whole range of services that add value to our lives is even better. Smartphones are the obvious example: Apple’s iPhone has spawned an entire industry of app-makers. Even more important, ethically, would be a technology that could [...]

September 26th, 2012
Plagiarism, journalistic ethics … and climate change?


One of the big ethics stories blowing up in Canada right now concerns plagiarism and journalistic ethics. Namely, criticisms of a journalist at one of the big national papers here, The Globe and Mail, have gone viral leaving the paper, and the journali...

July 4th, 2012
Who really should resign for the Barclays interest rate scandal?


The banking sector needs another scandal like a hole in the head. Or maybe that's the wrong metaphor. Because a quick death from a headshot might be more preferable to the excruciating, but likely never fatal, torture of interminable crises t...

June 28th, 2011
Lebensfreude und nachhaltiges Handeln sind für die meisten Deutschen kein Gegensatz mehr


Nachhaltiges Handeln stand lange in dem Ruf, Verzicht zu bedeuten. Heute verbindet mehr als die Hälfte der Deutschen (58 %) mit dem Begriff „Nachhaltigkeit“ auch Lebensfreude. Das geht aus einer repräsentativen Umfrage hervor, die Coca-Cola Deutschland gemeinsam mit der VERBRAUCHER INITIATIVE e.V. durchgeführt hat und die gestern in Berlin im Rahmen des von Coca-Cola Deutschland durchgeführten Stakeholder-Dialogforums diskutiert wurde.

November 26th, 2010
Price of tap water x 2000 + plastic bottles + manufactured demand = The Story of Bottled Water


We've been meaning to write something on Annie Leonard's "Story of Stuff" online phenomenon for some time. But then we thought: why not give some real "digital natives" the opportunity to express what they think about it? So we set a challenge for a cl...

August 6th, 2010
Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen begrüßt Spendeninitiative amerikanischer Milliardäre


Berlin > Mehr als 40 amerikanische Vermögende, darunter Bill Gates und Warren Buffett, haben öffentlich erklärt, einen Großteil ihres Vermögens für wohltätige Zwecke zu spenden. Der Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen begrüßt die Initiative und hofft auf zahlreiche Nachahmer in Deutschland. „Was für ein großartiger



May 22nd, 2008
1. Bremer Gespräche der brands & values GmbH


Bremen > Am 24. Juni finden im historischen Bremer Rathaus die 1. Bremer Gespräche der brands & values GmbH statt. Unter dem Motto „Ehrenamt und Geschäft – ein Widerspruch?“ diskutieren namhafte Vertreter aus Wirtschaft, Politik und dem sozialen Sektor über Potenziale und Herausforderungen



April 21st, 2008
Jetzt bewerben: World Business and Development Awards der UN


Bis zum 30. Mai 2008 können sich Unternehmen für die World Business and Development Awards 2008 bewerben. Ausgezeichnet werden Projekte der Wirtschaft, die innerhalb des Kerngeschäftes dazu beitragen, die Millenniumsziele der Vereinten Nationen zu erreichen. Ausgeschrieben wird der Preis von der Internationalen Handelskammer



July 10th, 2007
Kreishandwerkerschaft Essen mit weltweitem Preis für CSR-Engagement ausgezeichnet


Berlin, 10. Juli 2007 - Die Kreishandwerkerschaft Essen hat gemeinsam mit ihrer Partnerorganisation in Brasilien den weltweiten Kammerpreis in der Kategorie „Beste Internationale Kammerkooperationsprojekte“ gewonnen. Der Preis wird alle zwei Jahre von der Internationalen Handelskammer (ICC) und der World Chambers Federation (WCF)



July 9th, 2014
Erfrischende Ideen für mehr Gemeinsamkeit im Naturschutz: Studentenwettbewerb von Coca-Cola und EUROPARC e.V.


Kreative Lösungsansätze für das Zusammenbringen der unterschiedlichen Interessen und Interessensgruppen bei dem Naturschutzprojekt „Alte Elbe Klieken“ waren von den 21 Studentinnen und Studenten gefordert. Die Studierenden aus verschiedenen Fachbereichen waren dem Aufruf von Coca-Cola und EUROPARC Deutschland zum Ideenwettbewerb in das Biosphärenreservat Mittelelbe gefolgt.

June 26th, 2014
Disrupting management ideas



Over the last days we have seen a captivating debateunfolding. Jill Lepore’s article in The New Yorker on the concept of ‘disruptive innovation’ has garnered quite some attention. Not at least from its progenitor, Lepore’s Harvard colleague Clayton Christenen, who appears to be anything but amused.


Disruptive innovations - put simply - are new products or services that create new markets, while at the same time turning existing solutions to customer demands obsolete, and thus destroying existing markets and the companies that serve them. In his many books, Christensen initially developed the idea from a corporate context (such as his floppy disk, steel, or construction equipment examples) but it quickly branched out into other sectors.


The article is a fascinating read not just because it takes on an idea largely uncontested in academia and beyond. Moreover, the concept of ‘disruptive innovation’ had quite a substantial impact on the real world. Lepore writes as a historian and delineates the superficial and ideological nature of the idea. The piece is also worthwhile reading as it exposes Christensen’s ‘case study’ approach (after all, a hallmark of its intellectual birthplace) to thorough historical analysis. The latter perspective debunks and exposes the data at the heart of Christensen’s ‘disruption’ theory as utterly wanting.


Now it is always fun to question conventional wisdom and powerful ideas, especially when they come from a Harvard Business School professor recently honored as the No 1 in the Top50 Thinkers ranking. As some of our readers might remember, we also enjoyed doing a similar job on his colleague Michael Porter’s ‘big idea’ on Creating Shared Value earlier this year. But there is the danger that those skirmishes just remain internal quibbles inside the ivory tower of which another former Harvard colleague, Henry Kissinger, once said that they ‘are so vicious because there is so little at stake’…


Lepore’s article clearly goes beyond that. Two things seem worth highlighting. First, she contextualizes a management theory in a wider intellectual historical context, and second, she shows that as such management ideas are deeply ideological constructs:
"Beginning in the eighteenth century, as the intellectual historian Dorothy Ross once pointed out, theories of history became secular; then they started something new—historicism, the idea “that all events in historical time can be explained by prior events in historical time.” Things began looking up. First, there was that, then there was this, and this is better than that. The eighteenth century embraced the idea of progress; the nineteenth century had evolution; the twentieth century had growth and then innovation. Our era has disruption, which, despite its futurism, is atavistic. It’s a theory of history founded on a profound anxiety about financial collapse, an apocalyptic fear of global devastation, and shaky evidence. […] 
The idea of progress—the notion that human history is the history of human betterment—dominated the world view of the West between the Enlightenment and the First World War. It had critics from the start, and, in the last century, even people who cherish the idea of progress, and point to improvements like the eradication of contagious diseases and the education of girls, have been hard-pressed to hold on to it while reckoning with two World Wars, the Holocaust and Hiroshima, genocide and global warming. Replacing “progress” with “innovation” skirts the question of whether a novelty is an improvement: the world may not be getting better and better but our devices are getting newer and newer. […] 
The idea of innovation is the idea of progress stripped of the aspirations of the Enlightenment, scrubbed clean of the horrors of the twentieth century, and relieved of its critics. Disruptive innovation goes further, holding out the hope of salvation against the very damnation it describes: disrupt, and you will be saved."
Disruptive innovation in its reception in business, academia, public administration and politics had some rather devastating (side-)effects – as Lepore eloquently points out. The crucial lesson of her essay though lies in its unmasking of what sounds like a rather technocratic ‘theory’ as something that is deeply informed by a particular view of the world, by a particular normative take on how humans historically have evolved.

As the article points out, such functionalist and technocratic ‘theories’ totally ignore other dimensions of human life. ‘Disrupting’ – sold as a good thing and the natural way of how organizations evolve - ignores other important dimensions of human development, especially if the concept gets branched out and expedited beyond business to schools, hospitals, prisons, museums etc. The ethical implications of such a theory are totally ignored in Christensen’ framework – argues Lepore.

One central lesson of this article for everyone concerned with the role of business in contemporary society – be it academics, executives or politicians – points to the pivotal role of understanding the intellectual heritage and presuppositions of those core theories and ideas that have shaped contemporary social (incl. business) reality. In that sense, Lepore’s piece is a truly ‘critical’ contribution to management – and the set of historical ‘criteria’ by which she does the job should encourage particular management academics to move beyond the confines of their discipline. To understand the power of ideas we have to look at the broader picture of their origin, their contemporary drivers, but also their wider implications for society.


Photos (top by Andy Kaufman; middle by Nicolas Nova) reproduced under the Creative Commons license.


June 26th, 2014
Disrupting management ideas



Over the last days we have seen a captivating debateunfolding. Jill Lepore’s article in The New Yorker on the concept of ‘disruptive innovation’ has garnered quite some attention. Not at least from its progenitor, Lepore’s Harvard colleague Clayton Christenen, who appears to be anything but amused.


Disruptive innovations - put simply - are new products or services that create new markets, while at the same time turning existing solutions to customer demands obsolete, and thus destroying existing markets and the companies that serve them. In his many books, Christensen initially developed the idea from a corporate context (such as his floppy disk, steel, or construction equipment examples) but it quickly branched out into other sectors.


The article is a fascinating read not just because it takes on an idea largely uncontested in academia and beyond. Moreover, the concept of ‘disruptive innovation’ had quite a substantial impact on the real world. Lepore writes as a historian and delineates the superficial and ideological nature of the idea. The piece is also worthwhile reading as it exposes Christensen’s ‘case study’ approach (after all, a hallmark of its intellectual birthplace) to thorough historical analysis. The latter perspective debunks and exposes the data at the heart of Christensen’s ‘disruption’ theory as utterly wanting.


Now it is always fun to question conventional wisdom and powerful ideas, especially when they come from a Harvard Business School professor recently honored as the No 1 in the Top50 Thinkers ranking. As some of our readers might remember, we also enjoyed doing a similar job on his colleague Michael Porter’s ‘big idea’ on Creating Shared Value earlier this year. But there is the danger that those skirmishes just remain internal quibbles inside the ivory tower of which another former Harvard colleague, Henry Kissinger, once said that they ‘are so vicious because there is so little at stake’…


Lepore’s article clearly goes beyond that. Two things seem worth highlighting. First, she contextualizes a management theory in a wider intellectual historical context, and second, she shows that as such management ideas are deeply ideological constructs:
"Beginning in the eighteenth century, as the intellectual historian Dorothy Ross once pointed out, theories of history became secular; then they started something new—historicism, the idea “that all events in historical time can be explained by prior events in historical time.” Things began looking up. First, there was that, then there was this, and this is better than that. The eighteenth century embraced the idea of progress; the nineteenth century had evolution; the twentieth century had growth and then innovation. Our era has disruption, which, despite its futurism, is atavistic. It’s a theory of history founded on a profound anxiety about financial collapse, an apocalyptic fear of global devastation, and shaky evidence. […] 
The idea of progress—the notion that human history is the history of human betterment—dominated the world view of the West between the Enlightenment and the First World War. It had critics from the start, and, in the last century, even people who cherish the idea of progress, and point to improvements like the eradication of contagious diseases and the education of girls, have been hard-pressed to hold on to it while reckoning with two World Wars, the Holocaust and Hiroshima, genocide and global warming. Replacing “progress” with “innovation” skirts the question of whether a novelty is an improvement: the world may not be getting better and better but our devices are getting newer and newer. […] 
The idea of innovation is the idea of progress stripped of the aspirations of the Enlightenment, scrubbed clean of the horrors of the twentieth century, and relieved of its critics. Disruptive innovation goes further, holding out the hope of salvation against the very damnation it describes: disrupt, and you will be saved."
Disruptive innovation in its reception in business, academia, public administration and politics had some rather devastating (side-)effects – as Lepore eloquently points out. The crucial lesson of her essay though lies in its unmasking of what sounds like a rather technocratic ‘theory’ as something that is deeply informed by a particular view of the world, by a particular normative take on how humans historically have evolved.

As the article points out, such functionalist and technocratic ‘theories’ totally ignore other dimensions of human life. ‘Disrupting’ – sold as a good thing and the natural way of how organizations evolve - ignores other important dimensions of human development, especially if the concept gets branched out and expedited beyond business to schools, hospitals, prisons, museums etc. The ethical implications of such a theory are totally ignored in Christensen’ framework – argues Lepore.

One central lesson of this article for everyone concerned with the role of business in contemporary society – be it academics, executives or politicians – points to the pivotal role of understanding the intellectual heritage and presuppositions of those core theories and ideas that have shaped contemporary social (incl. business) reality. In that sense, Lepore’s piece is a truly ‘critical’ contribution to management – and the set of historical ‘criteria’ by which she does the job should encourage particular management academics to move beyond the confines of their discipline. To understand the power of ideas we have to look at the broader picture of their origin, their contemporary drivers, but also their wider implications for society.


Photos (top by Andy Kaufman; middle by Nicolas Nova) reproduced under the Creative Commons license.


April 29th, 2014
A ‘Sweet Spot’ in tackling climate change?


Jeremy Oppenheim
Today (Monday April 28, 2014) Jeremy Oppenheim was in Toronto. Oppenheim is the director of the  Global Commission on the Economy and Climate (chaired by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, co-chairs include Lord Nicholas Stern and the OECD Secretary-General). He was hosted by Corporate Knights’ Toby Heaps for a 'high level' lunch which included some of the top brass of Toronto’s investment, real estate, insurance and academic communities. And civil society, of course, David Miller (ex-Major of Toronto and now Head of WWF Canada) was there, too.

It was, first off, a real game changing experience to see a room of 30ish ‘climate activists’ in pinstripes (or female equivalent) convening over antipasto e bistecca to discuss the plight of the planet. Oppenheim's remarks were thought provoking as they reflected the current gist among those leaders that care seriously about climate change.

Oppenheim started by highlighting that the public debate has somewhat stalled as most of conversations on climate change evoke pretty unsexy, depressing and un-cool truths. Going on and on about threats linked to climate change just makes you a boring party pooper.


At least in person – he was all but. Eloquently, engaging and thoughtfully he relayed his core points. What struck me most is that amongst the experts, the entire debate about ‘avoiding’ or ‘fighting’ climate change is yesterday’s news. Oppenheim stated clearly that – in my words - we just have to suck it up that temperatures are about to rise by two degrees. The damage is done. Today’s debate is really about how to avoid global warming to reach three or even four degrees. A sobering – and somewhat chilling assessment.


Oppenheim – no less a McKinsey director on leave from their London offices – then pointed to the currently explored strategy - which hopefully can become a game changer: highlight the 'positive' side of climate change (in my words). Or to put it this way: adapting to climate change can already make economic sense now! He ran through a couple of examples from many places around the globe. Here is just one: Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon region has been identified as a great worry. What we see now though is that land owners in the Amazon are increasingly sympathetic to restrictions on turning rain forest into farm land: after all, the unlimited possibility of creating new farmland through cutting the forest decreases the value of their property. According to Oppenheim, those economic drivers are a huge force in favor of climate friendly policies.


It is interesting to see that a group of top business people is having this discussion. In the Canadian context, many of these will be laughed out of their Golf Clubs or seven star resorts in the Caribbean if they ever repeated to their buddies what they heard today. Canada, Oppenheim intimated with the maximum level of British politeness, is a real mess with regard to climate change action. So Oppenheim’s point was really that we have to change the story, change the way we communicate about it. Present it as a story of opportunity, rather than a story of threat. While Lord Stern’s report years ago was telling us ‘Pay a little now and you avoid being taken to the cleaners by climate change tomorrow!’ Oppenheim’s new message is: ‘You can actually make money on adapting to climate change NOW!’

I left the event with a somewhat ambiguous feeling. I was uplifted to see key players in business – from where most of the sources of carbon emissions are ultimately governed – acutely aware of the problem. I also liked the pragmatic gist of Oppenheim’s argument: We can use the current incentive structure in one of the most powerful engines of capitalism to ‘move the needle’ (I have to watch my language…) on pressing global issues. And - fair enough - there is some leeway.


At the same time, the by now worn out quote from Albert Einstein kept creeping up on me on my way home: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” A focus on short term economic gains for individual actors or organizations got us into this mess of climate change in the first place. And – we have to add – has prevented any large-scale meaningful response to date. So finding that ‘sweet spot’ (a quote from Jeremy Oppenheim’s McKinsey Website) where business interest and environmental needs converge may take us some way. But there can be little doubt that this is not going to really change the bigger picture.
DM
Photo by Arbeiderpartiet. Reproduced under Creative Commons licence.


April 29th, 2014
A ‘Sweet Spot’ in tackling climate change?


Jeremy Oppenheim
Today (Monday April 28, 2014) Jeremy Oppenheim was in Toronto. Oppenheim is the director of the  Global Commission on the Economy and Climate (chaired by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, co-chairs include Lord Nicholas Stern and the OECD Secretary-General). He was hosted by Corporate Knights’ Toby Heaps for a 'high level' lunch which included some of the top brass of Toronto’s investment, real estate, insurance and academic communities. And civil society, of course, David Miller (ex-Major of Toronto and now Head of WWF Canada) was there, too.

It was, first off, a real game changing experience to see a room of 30ish ‘climate activists’ in pinstripes (or female equivalent) convening over antipasto e bistecca to discuss the plight of the planet. Oppenheim's remarks were thought provoking as they reflected the current gist among those leaders that care seriously about climate change.

Oppenheim started by highlighting that the public debate has somewhat stalled as most of conversations on climate change evoke pretty unsexy, depressing and un-cool truths. Going on and on about threats linked to climate change just makes you a boring party pooper.


At least in person – he was all but. Eloquently, engaging and thoughtfully he relayed his core points. What struck me most is that amongst the experts, the entire debate about ‘avoiding’ or ‘fighting’ climate change is yesterday’s news. Oppenheim stated clearly that – in my words - we just have to suck it up that temperatures are about to rise by two degrees. The damage is done. Today’s debate is really about how to avoid global warming to reach three or even four degrees. A sobering – and somewhat chilling assessment.


Oppenheim – no less a McKinsey director on leave from their London offices – then pointed to the currently explored strategy - which hopefully can become a game changer: highlight the 'positive' side of climate change (in my words). Or to put it this way: adapting to climate change can already make economic sense now! He ran through a couple of examples from many places around the globe. Here is just one: Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon region has been identified as a great worry. What we see now though is that land owners in the Amazon are increasingly sympathetic to restrictions on turning rain forest into farm land: after all, the unlimited possibility of creating new farmland through cutting the forest decreases the value of their property. According to Oppenheim, those economic drivers are a huge force in favor of climate friendly policies.


It is interesting to see that a group of top business people is having this discussion. In the Canadian context, many of these will be laughed out of their Golf Clubs or seven star resorts in the Caribbean if they ever repeated to their buddies what they heard today. Canada, Oppenheim intimated with the maximum level of British politeness, is a real mess with regard to climate change action. So Oppenheim’s point was really that we have to change the story, change the way we communicate about it. Present it as a story of opportunity, rather than a story of threat. While Lord Stern’s report years ago was telling us ‘Pay a little now and you avoid being taken to the cleaners by climate change tomorrow!’ Oppenheim’s new message is: ‘You can actually make money on adapting to climate change NOW!’

I left the event with a somewhat ambiguous feeling. I was uplifted to see key players in business – from where most of the sources of carbon emissions are ultimately governed – acutely aware of the problem. I also liked the pragmatic gist of Oppenheim’s argument: We can use the current incentive structure in one of the most powerful engines of capitalism to ‘move the needle’ (I have to watch my language…) on pressing global issues. And - fair enough - there is some leeway.


At the same time, the by now worn out quote from Albert Einstein kept creeping up on me on my way home: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” A focus on short term economic gains for individual actors or organizations got us into this mess of climate change in the first place. And – we have to add – has prevented any large-scale meaningful response to date. So finding that ‘sweet spot’ (a quote from Jeremy Oppenheim’s McKinsey Website) where business interest and environmental needs converge may take us some way. But there can be little doubt that this is not going to really change the bigger picture.
DM
Photo by Arbeiderpartiet. Reproduced under Creative Commons licence.


April 22nd, 2014
Nachhaltigkeitsseminare bieten Überblick zu Softwaresystemen


Auch in diesem Jahr bietet die Nachhaltigkeitsberatung brands & values zusammen mit der Serviceplan-Gruppe und in Partnerschaft mit Forum Nachhaltig Wirtschaften neue Nachhaltigkeits-Seminare an. Die eintägigen Workshops in Hamburg und München geben einen Überblick in die Softwaresysteme zur Erfassung und Auswertung von nachhaltigkeitsrelevanten Daten.
















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