As the panelist on the “Kick-start Panel” of the WBCSD/IUCN Business and Ecosystems Think Tank B (8 Sep 2012) – called “Future World Leaders” Panel, Peter Bakker, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development being the Chair – Other Panelists’- Sander Jansen (KPMG, Future World Leaders Programme of WBCSD), Monika Shivras (Holcim, also part of the Future World Leaders Programme of WBCSD) and Maria Ana Borges (IUCN Secretariat) – Dr. Justine Braby, IECN Integrated Environmental Consultants from Namibia, summarized-
The Think Tank was a set of panels of World Business Leaders and Experts on Sustainable Development (e.g. Syngenta, Shell, Holcim, etc). Each of us were assigned two minutes to give our intervention on “own personal views and aspirations on biodiversity and ecosystem challenges”, to which mine was-I believe that, while great efforts have been initiated over the years, we are still on an extremely destructive path for all of biodiversity on Earth, and this includes our own species.
And this doom and gloom picture is the product of our entire system, especially in terms of economy, which has been based on valuing commodities which actually have no value, like Gold, and putting absolutely no value on things that are intrinsic to our own survival – such as clean air, fresh water. This “undervalue”, or “no value”, as a result, has completely disconnected us from nature and our dependency on it!
For instance, we add the price of a bushel of wheat harvested, but we forget to subtract the topsoil lost forever in its mass production. And we are changing too slowly to come back from the MAJOR global losses of ecosystem services and biodiversity as a result of this system.
We are already getting feedback telling us that our current system is not working, peak oil, peak metal – and the end of the golden age! This seems like we are moving toward a dooms day picture if we carry on the same path.
However, there is also hope and excitement in this picture – one with many opportunities combined with the challenges. If a critical mass can realize, understand and want to change, we can use these opportunities to move towards a very bright future in which we value human well-being over material wealth – where a successful person is not a rich person, but a happy, healthy person.
Poverty is eradicated, nature is harmonized with development, and we connect again with our roots. I don’t have the answers to get there – but I know that with like-minded people we can come up with new, brilliant, innovative ways towards this paradigm shift in our society – for the betterment of all living beings in Earth, and especially our human society. Business, in this sense, can play a key role toward finding these innovations.
After this session Peter Bakker asked us a few questions, including where we think we are and what we would do if we were IUCN President. When asked that question- I alluded to the fact that our current value system is totally skewed – and used the Niger Delta as a case study of the extractive resource curse – 600 Billion USD pumped out of the Niger Delta over the past 50 years, not one of those little green notes making it to one of the 42 million people living in abject poverty here, countless major oil spills which we never hear about, and ecosystems ruined in the globally integral wetland, which would cost at least 1 Billion Dollars and more than half a life time to fix. I then reached to the fact that we have defined our success on material wealth only which is why we are on this destructive path. We need to come up with a new holistic system to measure success rate – one which focuses on human well-being instead. Like, for example, the GNH concept in Bhutan – which is slowly being integrated into other parts of the world.
If I were President, I would advocate for more research and development of this measure – looking at effective communication to enhance and mainstream this concept into decision-making processes. Perhaps then we would collectively realize that ecosystem services and biodiversity are integral to our well-being.
Before concluding the Business Leaders Panel after me, Peter Bakker mentioned my statement of “happiness and health” over financial wealth again
Remarks with Submission- I posted on my blog about it – but this is very personal and subjective so not so great for professionalism – but something to take from anyway if need be – http://www.sprouts-of-change.blogspot.com.