I have been paying attention to live reports from #griconference. Last week a few good people introduced me via Twitter to Kumi Naido, the new International Leader of Greenpeace. These tweets quoted Kumi as pointing out in his presentation, "It's not business as usual anymore."
Welcome aboard, Kumi. I hope you can take a few minutes to think about what you said at GRI last week, as a leader of one of the largest global advocacy organizations in the world. For me, "acting on a recognition that it is not business as usual," needs followup from all sectors so global citizens can see an end to over 3 decades of advocacy, protest and debate that is not empowering a fast enough response for the problems we face today.
The mass media, at a cost of billions of dollars, continues to overwhelm the flow of information that re-enforces people and the institutions they represent to continuously look to see who is to blame and draw lines between sectors and institutions offering opinion about "who should do what?"
Many people in scientific circles from industry and government assert that resources to assure quality scientific research have been significantly reduced; scientists and media argue about conflicting findings rather than seize the opportunity to learn and build a research agenda of action to respond to current needs for people, planet and profit. The ongoing debate slows down investing in a consumer/patient centric science that can lead to combining resources for research and impacting a more systemic approach that the harm, as it is identified, is a result of environment and chemical toxins.
Some global citizens believe the only way to create the sustainable change is to author legislation. US citizens and politicians now lead this movement asking for more regulation in response to the Bush-Cheney years of de-regulation. This belief dominates the minds of activists, creating another belief that there will be no change unless we regulate.
This week, I have extracted from events, meetings and presentations around the world some insights and key fractal points. These points are potential tipping points of change that may lead to refocusing the #sustainnow agenda.
The United Nations Global Compact has convened 7700 companies globally as its learning community. During the #griconference, the UN Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative announced its new partnership. This partnership is all voluntary and through an application process that includes requirements for qualificaiton. I know we can aniticipate that as learning communities from within the Global Compact form and adopt that the GRI Reporting Framewokr, f this will facilitate a growing adoption of integrated Environment, Society and Governance Reporting (ESG indicators) built on a foundation value for exercising precaution.
The Global GeoStrategy of today is shaping a new ecological economy that focuses its response on catastrophes. This response began to build momentum with 9/11 and then increased its pace with the natural disasters that occurred with the Tsunami, Katrina and Haitian Earthquake. This response has resulted in having to think about how to respond and rebuild entire geographical regions. In Louisiana, the momentum of economic and environmental recovery from Katrina was brought to a halt by the BP Oil Spill now growing into a 45+ day disaster of harm that has shut down an entire eco-system of people, environment and economy.
Like everyone else, I took lots of deep breaths this week and some time out to find ground, humor and connection with people I respect to keep me motivated in my research and work. Amidst preparation for a trip to Washington DC to examine legislation for Safe Chemicals. The experience of the week reshaped for this trip.
The American Council for Sustainable Busines has convened a meeting, which will have international representation to focus on a Safer Chemicals Agenda. I am hoping that presence and contribution for European Union's ChemSec.org will offer some emotional intelligence to this community drawn from non profits, government and business to share a story of empowerment that moves this group beyond advocacy, lobbying and promotion. It's my hope to learn is a US based group of reputable people can build an agenda of strategy and action that moves the participants in Washington DC beyond business as usual.
As I prepared for my trip, I followed these reports with as much attention as I could find and give:
- #foxconn - 11 suicides of workers who manufacture for Apple, Dell and Sony;
- #bp & #oilspill - the immersion surrounded me with radio, tv, twitter, work and social conversation
These events to me represented opportunities for the creation of "tipping points. Reading these reports as they were produced sat in the background of my reflection on #ceres10 and now #griconference. Both these communities focused on conversations that emphasized the need for integrative ESG reporting - GRI then announced its partnership with the the UN Global Compact, with a goal in mind to make the UN Global Compact 10 Principles concrete and understood. This reponse for me shaped into a question:
- How do we pull the energy of reporting into learning that implies action and social impact for human rights, the global economy, environment and health.
"If it is not business as usual," as stated by Kumi Nado, could that imply it is only business or does it imply it is not only business, government, education, non-government organizations and/or industry; does it imply within every institutions of people, these institutions have to build and participate in a society to exercise precaution and do no harm. I then shaped another question:
- What can we leverage from this slow process of change to build a more rapid response?
Within the last 6 months, I have shaped this blog into an activity of action research and networked connection. I am now inviting participation into a focused on a conversation called #sustainnow. I have begun annotating and archiving some of the conversations, research reviews, annotations on a group board called AboutWorkEcology and located at Linkedin.com . Membership into this community is by application.
The first qualification for participation in this community implies that you have a sincere passion to empower and lead change that goes beyond information sharing, reflective dialogue and advocacy. The members of this community are people learning to apply the thought leadership of AboutWorkEcology into a practice of change, one person at a time; cross sector, industry and culture.
The WorkEcology #sustainnow conversation and news is has convened some of the best people globally who do far more than advocate. We will be joining our network through a shared social media platform, into a network that builds through inquiry a new interactive format of education focused on learning and application for thought and practice leaders.
- Is it the way we speak; news media continues to cloud the understanding of change #csr, #sustainability, #socent, #justmeans #griconference, #ceres10 with a jargon and voice that is not consumable to most who can not afford the venues of participation beyond their local community.
- Mainstream media forms its analysis after the fact; it is primarily a live location view of what is not working. The world of social responsibility, sustainability and corporate social responsibility is reporting live change and thinking as it occurs and doing it well even within the limits of 140 characters of twitter speak.
Today one critical question began to gnaw at me: "Why is it taking so long to get the right response to change the pattern of culture and how we live for the majority of people?"
What does the BP Oil Spill Imply?
From #griconference, I found a report that Marc Gunther had announced the new debt crisis is ecological. This post is a must read. Marc points out we all have to learn to live within our means. That statement in my opinion also has to imply that having a means to live is critical for those who have lost jobs or are derailed from the monetary system in some way through illness or family caregiving needs. Marc goes on to point out something that challenges Darwin's "survival of the fittest." He says we are all interdependent and accounting matters. Isn't that a new layer of learning we are being pushed to learn from the BP Oil Spill?
Does the BP Oil Spill imply a collapsed ecology for the good people of Louisiana, as a result of the double whammy - Katrina and Oil Spill.? Is Louisiana the new Haiti? Will this trickle like "dominoes" throughout the United States and other parts of the world? Embedded in what was once the leading economic power in the world? Are we finally learning that a global corporation, a government or a geography can get lost trying to find who or what is to blame and that everyone and all institutions and all stakeholders have to engage and rebuild a healthy eco-system of interdependence?
After reading Marc's analysis, I put myself on reflective pause for a day. I started to think about how to create an international line Up of award winning artists from film. Isn't film a rapid way to influence change? I asked myself if I could lead a production of a film ready for Cannes and Sundance by 2011. Does it not take a movie ("fictitious scenario) to show the majority of people a new way? After all hasn't the world become "anything Hollywood?"
Can we admit that "international film distribution" is potentially the most influential and entertaining form of education for economic decision makers? Could a film of this kind be a quality mechanism that is more cost effective than the advocacy fo NGO's our most powerful source for influencing change?The AboutWorkEcology Film Roster of Who's Who
It was Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell and Cher in 1982, who woke me up to the issue of TOXINS. After meeting Danny Sheehan, the Silkwood Family attorney, I got curious about what it would take for women to work in a scientific industry and for all sector interests to shift into a CSR - Sustainable agenda.
Silkwood - the movie was released in 1983 about the time Gro Harlem Brundtland convened the Brundtland Commission .
My adventure with my father's 7 years in palliative taught me that the focus on health care in the US was driven by industry and teaching hospitals and not a patient centric agenda. I kept my sanity in check in the early stage of my "sandwich decades" with anything "Susan Sarandon."
Susan Sarandon's portrayal of Mihaela Odone in Lorenzo's Oil taught a new form of health consciousness by teaching us about "imperfect science" and "imperfect research." The movie angered Hugo Moser, the chief researcher at NIH. Hugo was the actual NIH physician researcher, who fought Michaela Odone with harsh agression. In the movie, Moser was portrayed as a fictious character, Professor Nikolais (Peter Ustinov). After the movie, Moser refocused his energy, pushing to learn what was possible about ALD up to days beforehis death. Lorenzo, now in his late 20's lives with his father in Fairfax, Va. He is without a cure and unable to speak, Michaela died of exhaustion in 2008. Gustav Odone, now well into his 80's, created the Myelin Project, which is fostering the new inquiry into science for the practice of medicine that is helping many with a full menu of neuro-related diseases that includes MS, Epilepsy and ALD.
Through the years, I found my inspiration from film to keep moving ahead on my life learning path. Last week, I chose to deal with the stress of the world as the news became more chaotic related to the BP Oil Spill. I chose to dream about writing a movie script to revive my energy and spirit.
As I began to work on character development for my all "star line-up", Cary Krosinsky
offered something that caught my attention on Facebook. I must confess, I know Cary personally and he has won my respect and generously advised me on my ideas and work. Cary posted his version of a fictitious script to create a new path for BP's long view.
"BP - you have hereby been declared incapable of operating within the boundaries of acceptable safety as established by executive order on the basis of national security - your US assets are hereby impounded for collateral to be sold to the highest qualified bidder - proceeds to the cleanup and alt energy incentives -... too bad for the top 10 holders of BP who are all based in London.."
A sudden spark of creative energy made me realize, I would have to get Kate Winslet, Dane Judith Dench, Hugh Bonneville and Jim Broadbent to play consumer advocates and represent families affected by the spill. Could these stellar actors portray a meaningful message to all the people, who are now visibly losing their health and sometimes life around the world to complications one encounters from chemical exposures, e.g. an oil spill?
Moving along, I thought, here we go again. The news this week seemed to be filled with heroic attempts to stop "the spill," and all failed. Maybe Nelson Mandela, Halle Berry, Oprah and others might add powerfully to my script. Will the response morph into a reality of possibility for people around the world and impact the ecology for an interdependent citizenship?
Like the producers of Primary Colors,
I may opt to create a fictitious world of characters modeled after royalty, government, corporate and NGO leadership. I may also alter the personality of real time leaders. I am carrying around in my imagination right now a question:
- "What would have happened on Day 1 of the Oil Leak, if President Obama called BP's Tony Hayward, CEO and Peter Sutherland, Chairman and flew to London with Michelle Obama and met in the living room with Queen Elizabeth to brainstorm an aligned response that included a report to shareholders and global citizens?"
Then something exceptional happened at my screen to influence my thinking. I got a copy of the report from the GRI Reporting Initiative on Embedding Gender. I skimmed it and realized research task for my character development was to synthesize the message of this report with the AAUW - Why So Few? (women in science).
It then occurred to me that Erin Brokovich could simply play herself. The best way to get a female voice to be heard is to bring on a woman who speaks up even when people don't listen. I hope that I can develop a script that assures that "women-speak" can be heard in science, politics, law and medicine to impact change, not just talk about it. GRI has mandated embedding women in sustainable change initiatives. Maybe we can finally have impact on economic decision makers from any sector.
It is all about the way the deal is cut and who you cut the deal with!
Years ago, when I negotiated my first contract for quality cost-effective medical services for women for one of the top 10 HMO's; I learned very quickly through a six month cycle of negotiation that the picture changes daily. The picture includes facts, data and the independent responses of the players. The daily show effects negotiations and how you cut the deal as much as analysis of the past. What is also just as important is that you have a handle on the potential future risks from which you can build a worst case scenario response that assures you begin today to take steps to prevent this hazardous scenario.
So I began to study from my Hoote Suite Dashboard for Twitter, what members of #sustainnow were thinking and reading about the week and how I could draw on that value for my movie script and think about the future.
John Friedman offered the first relevant tweet:
Fabian Pattberg was the first to summarize live at the end of each day, a summary of the GRI conference. Fabian's reports help me think about how to start talking about a future that is not yet seen by most.
The article by Han Han portrayed Foxconn CEO Terry Gou with the belief that the remedy for this situation simple. Gou asked every employee to sign an agreement they won't commit suicide at work location with an incentive of 20% pay increase. What great material for my script. This provides me the opportunity to show how money does not solve everything and authoring an alternative. Actually, I visited the alternative in Mexico in 1998, when I was invited to visit Roberto Vargas Marciel's organic farm research center.
Forbes Columnist, Gordon Chang reported his analysis of what is believed to be a low suicide rate in China with a quality analysis of the growing impact of the social ecology on the people of China in this rapid economic post communism stage of growth. From Brigette's first tweet, I read Han Han's analysis from the Carter Center blog on Chinese Governance.
Chang's powerful socio-economic analysis provides an analysis of the past 25 years of change in China that is impacting the health, environment and educational influences on the current generation. To me this editorial tells the story of what occurs in a culture transforming from an agrarian way of life and rapidly adopting technology and increasing economic freedom where their pace of change builds into a form of consumption without exercising precaution.
It is no wonder the health, education and welfare of Chinese citizens is facing so much challenge now. Somehow the harm encountered in the west over the last 100 years has not become a lesson learned for China.
It will be interesting to factor all this into my movie script.
Elaine Cohen returned home from Amsterdam and promptly summarized her report from GRI and offered her perspective:
Here is my concise Elaine Cohen 101
- 13 years of GRI brought out 1200 attendees - the grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles;
- the #ceres10 theme of integrative reporting continued at #griconference;
- it was asserted strongly that sustainability is not simply climate change;
- reporting moves into a new generation of technical analytics;
- CSR has been voluntary and now fans of regulation are asking to be mandated as legislation;
- the GRI voice called for report standardization;
- #griconference hashtag produced one of the highest quality social media sources of reporting.
Here is some of data as food for thought on the result and future opportunity for monitoring.
- GRI does not police reports and and only 25% of reports authored are assured;
- Approximately 1300 or 30% of the CSR reports authored for a total of 4,000 use GRI framework;
- The 5,000 reports that are generated today are a drop in the bucket of 82,000 transnational companies of which 77,000 do not report;
For the past 13 years the community of people building on this framework have attracted growing participation. Like everything else, this activity will face more challenge as adoption distributes more widely. The growing demand for transparency is going to push the adoption of this framework. beyond Bloomberg analytics on the carbon foot print.
Today, I am left with one final question:
- How can we increase the pace;what is will be the new educational format to increase pace to produce quality data and analytics that result in the building of a story with a dominating value of "do no harm?"
I have created my hashtag for my live reports from #safechem and signed on twitter;
Signing off now for a quiet train ride from Boston to WDC. Will take advantage of the time to read more of value, before I shift gears in WDC to learn more about chemicals toxins.