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Sustainability is Systemic

Today we release the second installment from our interview with Bjørn Lomborg, Director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center. In this clip he talks about the issue of sustainability in a world where business is suddenly held responsible for the lifestyles of their consumers. "Business is often asked to do good on their own, to cut back on their carbon emissions and follow-up on other corporate social responsibilities. But what we have to realize is that it is systemic issues that drive what actually works in societies, whereas, business of course, can cut back on their carbon emissions, that’s going to cost them money." 

What might the solution be malnutrition? There needs to be a price on carbon for businesses to understand what they need to do. "Just like it’s not up to businesses to cure malaria, or to fix HIV or. But businesses can help. And so we need to recognize that, yes, businesses should be cost effective when it comes to energy ... but we should also recognize that at the end of the day, this has to be a societal decision and not one that just any one business can do."

Why organizations would most benefit from taking sustainable actions? Ones that pick the right targets. If corporate social responsibility is really just about PR, business should pick targets that have high visibility in today’s discussion. However, Lomborg points out: "If you’re goal is to actually do good, you should be asking yourself, where do we get the most return on social investments on the money that we’re going to be spending? Those are very often much less visible, much less interesting, but ultimately much more important issues."

These interviews are part of a series on business sustainability, "Balancing People, Planet and Profit: The Future of Business Sustainability," sponsored by Logica. So far, the series has featured interviews with Peter Brabeck, the Chairman of Nestle; Gro Harlem Brundtland, Special Envoy on Climate Change, U.N.; Ernst Weizsäcker, Co-chair, U.N. International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management; Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group; and Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at IEA. The series examines ways that business interests can be better aligned with the greater social good.
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