Leadership deficit: The barrier to landing sustainable change

By: Talwyn Whetter

As we approach the end of the first quarter of 2016, it is an ideal time to take stock of where we got to within global sustainability last year, and assess what needs to be done to ensure we carry forward success through the course of this year.

The truth is, the end of 2015 was incredibly hopeful. If we look back at the landmark events over the last few months, we think of major steps forward in the setting of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September, and the agreement on COP 21 negotiations which took place in Paris in December.
 
The SDGs are intrinsically linked to the COP 21 negotiations in Paris, with a report last year concluding that only an ambitious climate deal would enable countries to reach them.

But who is driving global solutions that will facilitate our path to living within our means? At the moment, the answer is business – with key leaders across varied industries providing the catalyst for global change. For example, Mark Wilson, group CEO of Aviva Group recently addressed the UN general assembly on the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals. He spoke about the need for a global coalition to be mobilised, in what was a landmark speech with Wilson representing the public sector. He also called for a transformation of messages into action, with businesses and goals to be aligned.

However, if we are to truly see effective change, there must be input from global governments – something which was highlighted at the Economist Sustainability Summit which took place on 15-16th March 2016. With speakers such as Sharan Burrowes, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation; Steve Waygood, Aviva Group CIO and Per Bolund, Swedish Minister for Finance, there was a strong emphasis on the need for a co-ordinated and concerted effort to tackle climate change. This can only take place if business initiatives are coupled with direction from the international political leadership. Many speakers highlighted an inconsistency in the response of governments and that this leadership gap needs to be filled. We think that governments can fill this by supporting, or initiating the following actions:
 
  • Fundamental systems change and bold steps need to be taken by all and not just pioneer organisations.
  • Governments need to legislate to provide the ‘stick’ for businesses who are taking too long to implement changes.
  • Individual parties must collaborate – sharing knowledge to improve action.
Success is a business and governmental landscape that embraces end to end process or systems change and for this all to be underlined by a focus on delivering answers which focus on global sustainability.

At Sysdoc, we know that for systems change to be a success, businesses need to look at the full impact of the change – both inside and outside of the organisation. The same applies to governmental and societal change – development goals, climate change, sustainability are the requirements of a changing world, and whether this be driven by talks within global forums, or on the level of domestic business, a need for collaboration, understanding, and most importantly leadership, is required to educate on, and land the change.

Images (C) The Economist Events (2016). All Rights Reserved. Link
 
 

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