Corporate greed is killing Planet Earth!
From pockets of uncontrollable fire raging in the lungs of the earth, the Amazon, to tonnes of rubbish killing marine life, as well as and the threat climate change is posing to our collective survival, we can easily trace all sorts of environmental degradation to corporate greed and the quest for more profit.
Drawing the line between corporate greed and future green
Young activists like Greta Thunberg and many others joining different global movements and protests to air their voice and bring attention to severe issues have one message to pass: the planet belongs to all of us; not to business organisations and their whims alone.
That message is emphatic – and timely too!
According to the Science and Security Board, a group of scientists monitoring the Doomsday Clock, it’s now only two minutes to midnight, a moment in time that is closest to human extinction than ever before.
Climate change, these scientists and researchers point out, is one of the two most terrifying existential threats to our survival and prosperity as a species – the other being the massive stockpile of nuclear weapons political leaders use to intimidate one another.
The effective corporate leader will be that woman or that man who thinks about the shareholders’ financial gratification and growth of the business as much as she or he consciously thinks about the sustainability of the planet.
Corporate greed is killing the planet, one species at a time
Since the first Industrial Revolution, various business concerns have extracted more natural resources from the belly of the Earth than the many millennia before then, combined.
That’s as alarming as it is frightful!
Just as the oceans are filling up with plastic waste and oil spills at an unprecedented level, so is the ozone layer rapidly depleting, suffering from a constant barrage of chlorine, bromine, and other such harmful human-made chemicals.
World leaders who worked tirelessly to avoid a repetition of nuclear tests (and actual use) before and during the Second World War would be shocked to see how much ozone-depleting substances (ODS) are manufactured and sold globally today.
Not surprisingly, though, the manufacturers in the refrigeration, foam insulation, and many other industries, know the harmful effects these chemicals cause to the stratosphere.
But do they care?
The story is the same concerning manufacturers of plastic and other marine life-killing products. The knowledge of the harmful effects of these products has not deterred their mass production and sale.
From the devastating levels of pollution caused by cobalt and coltan mining in the Congo to the severely polluted creeks and rivers in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, and unsustainable depletion of the fish population in the horn of Africa and elsewhere on the continent, this generation seems to be going all out to destroy what’s left of the world.
We should all be scared that it took the world just 112 years to develop the first synthetic plastic and dump over 51 trillion pieces of plastic (or 80% of ocean litter). The implication is simple: the coral reefs will die, crustaceans and plankton will die, and then the fish we feed on will die too just as the carbon-absorbing capabilities of the oceans become severely damaged along the way.
Life on earth will never remain the same again – unless we do something about it now!
Corporate Executives have a significant role to play
Having scarcely attained a commendable level of success, as outlined in the Millenium Development Goals goals between 2000 and 2015, world leaders have moved on to the Sustainable Development Goals.
If the attitude of big business (and political leaders egging them on) before the SDG goals became the next line of defence is anything to go by, the chances are that nothing spectacular will happen if the corporate world does not change its profit-by-all-means-necessary model today.
Specifically, the MDG 7 goal, which was adopted by 189 UN-member states in September 2000, aims to promote environmental sustainability.
With a mandate to reduce biodiversity loss and reverse the depletion of environmental resources, among other objectives, it is clear that much is yet to be done, 19 years after that widely publicised declaration.
Billions of people around the world agree that it is foolhardy to source natural minerals and leave the world devastated in the process in a bid to make a profit when, in the end, the future generation the business hopes to sell its products to is already in jeopardy even before they are born.
Such is the recklessness of today’s profit-seeking model that does not consider other variables in the mix.
Variables like the viability of the planet, the advancement of people in the planet, nature itself, and other ethical considerations.
So, what can we do?
As world leaders concluded that sovereign nations entrench the MDG/SDG goals in their national policies, so should corporate executives consciously decide to make environmental sustainability the bedrock of their corporate governance values.
C-suite executives need to start asking serious questions when planning the company’s strategic goals. The Doomsday Clock puts it in a proper perspective – there is no more time for second-guessing or staying neutral in this fight to restore the Earth to its former pristine state.
From procurement of natural resources to extracting and optimising value from them and up to the point of distribution and sales, sustainability must remain the watchword.
Business executives must begin questioning how they source energy and extract groundwater.
They must reconsider how their manufacturing processes feed into the pollution nuisance, how they dispose of their toxic, plastic, and other kinds of solid wastes, among other related matters.
In summary, business executives need to future-fit their organisations now, to make their internal policies and external relations with other entities sync with global efforts to sustain the planet.
Corporate institutions are inanimate and soulless; it is the activities of executives in charge of these organisations that determine how they behave.
In other words, a positive change in attitude and ethical disposition of the board of directors and C-suite executives in various business concerns would translate into better corporate governance values.
Such a change is the minimum this present generation owes the next and the next after it.
The Doomsday Clock is ticking; how do you want history to remember you and your organisation?
A part of those who put profit over the planet and brought about Apocalypse or a conscious executive who fought in the frontline to save the Earth?