I’ll be honest. I was one of those that didn’t have high expectations for Rio+20. If trying to agree with your partner can sometimes be challenging and requires good negotiation skills and patience, I can’t even imagine which kind of super-powers decision-makers and negotiators would need to reach a satisfactory outcome. How can people from all over the world, with completely different backgrounds and capabilities, needs and interests, ideals and understanding of reality agree upon something that might go against their countries’ short-term development and interests? I don’t think there are too many brave leaders that would be willing to sacrifice their political lives for long-term development and progress, whatever that really means.
I wonder: Is some kind of global governance possible at all? The United Nations University (UNU) organized a side event on Global Governance Mechanisms for Boosting Green Innovation at the RioCentro conference center. I was surprised by the poor quality of some of their PowerPoint presentations, specially at such high-level events. Luckily enough, a good PowerPoint presentation is not central in conveying a valuable message. This was underlined by the fact that the only speaker without a PowerPoint presentation was the one with the best speech. Professor Cristovam Buarque is the Senator of the Brazilian National Congress, head of the Rio+20 Senate Commission, Brazil, and Member of the UNU Council.
This is a daily posts digest being published to keep track of what is happening at Rio+20. Posts published the 14th of June:
Another Brick in the Wall – The Transformation of Management Education
Nikolaj Fischer writes about the need of transforming management education. Business schools play a central role in sustainable development, as they are teaching the concept itself to future business leaders. Back to Discussing the Future
Ilke Schaart gives a neat review of what has been achieved since Rio 92. She states that regardless of the world’s political complications we saw a paradigm shift.
Sandra Waddock, the Galligan Chair of Strategy and Professor of Management in the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, was here at the Rio conference 20 years ago, and she will be part of it once again at Rio+20. I spoke with her via Skype to ask her about the main challenges our society is facing and about her expectations for the outcomes of the conference. Sandra thinks that corporate and system inertia is a huge challenge that we need to address, and that awareness will play a major role in decreasing inertia and fighting social problems.
Ms. Waddock, with an amazing 50 pages curriculum vita, has not only broad experience in strategy, business, public-private partnerships, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and corporate citizenship, but also in system change and the issue of growth as a problem. She is the author and co-author of several books, the latest ones are ‘SEE Change: Making the Transition to a Sustainable Enterprise Economy’, and ‘The Difference Makers: How Social and Institutional Entrepreneurs Created the Corporate Responsibility Movement.’ Besides all of her achievements, she is inspiring, charming and has a great sense of humor. Less inertia
The points Ms. Waddock discussed about inertia were intriguing. Inertia is the resistance to motion, action, or change.
Rio +20 is coming soon, and with it, a great team of student reporters from around the world. Behind all the student reporters, there are outstanding team leaders (like Caroline D´Angelo) who edit their posts and interviews while guiding them through the hectic journey of live conference-blogging. Leading a team of student reporters is certainly not an easy task. Funding, selection of students, training sessions, and much more has to be done before the start of the conference. In order to learn what it is like to be a team leader and a student reporter, I interviewed Caroline D’Angelo. Caroline D´Angelo is an editor for Student Reporter.
Have you ever heard about Game Theory, the Prisoner’s dilemma, or the Nash Equilibrium? Probably many of us, and –hopefully- the majority of the policy-makers around the world, studied this subject once. For me, the principle taught by this great subject is basically that if players of the game (namely policy-makers, CEOs, etc.) act in the interests of the group, they are better-off than if they acted in their interests alone (Nash equilibrium). But what happens if not all of those players act in the interests of the group? Then the ones who did, will presumably be worse-off than if they would’ve acted in their own interests.
Finally. Someone dared to question the approach of the World Resources Forum, and it was one of the speakers. Marilyn Mehlmann, General Secretary of Global Action Plan International (GAP), said some assertive words that many of us wanted to hear, especially the young ones (coincidence?). I found her speech sincere, which probably made it unpleasant for many of the people present. If you didn’t attend the conference, you might be asking yourself why ‘unpleasant’?
Change should always start at some point. Probaby the smaller the change is, the easier it is to make it. But what happens when a big organisation, not to say a corporate dinosaur, is trying to redefine its strategy towards a more sustainable way of doing business? Kraft Foods realised 20 years ago what many companies are just starting to realise: that Corporate Sustainability and Responsability really matter. It is not only about pressure from NGOs and governments, but also about competitive advantage and therefore, about profits.
There is a misunderstanding. We thought growth was about having and producing more, about improving quality of life. What happened? The concept of growth didn’t really take into account the whole life cycle of products and services we created and consumed. Without the internalization of current negative externalities we won’t be able to understand what growth really is, therefore not being able to grow at all.
Have you ever imagined yourself eating a worm-burger, a grasshopper-taco or an insect-cookie? Probably not. For many people, it is hard to think of insects as a sumptuous source of food. This might change in the future. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the world will have to produce 70 percent more food in order to feed a projected extra 2.3 billion people in 2050.
Impotence. Have you ever felt it? I guess that many of us have at least once felt not having enough power, money, and many other means to shape the future. This feeling can make people give up, or wait until they think they have the means to do something, without noticing they might wait forever. I am part of a group of passionate students from all over the world, gathered in Davos, Switzerland, to work together to show others how little power or money people need to start making a difference…