Archive for Global Economy

Human Security and Peacebuilding (Part 2)

I’ve just completed my first residency in the Human Security and Peacebuilding MA program.

To date, the program has been fascinating and it had a great cohort comprised of Diplomatic, Disaster Management and Business Consultants, Military Officers, NGO leaders and a few recent graduates all of whom were delightful people. What they share most in common is that they all deeply care what happens to other people in the world and they all share very unique perspectives on the world, born of their unique experiences. I’m looking forward to working with each of them in the field of action and learning.

What did we cover? Dr. Hrach Gregorian took us through topics such as Globalization in it’s many dimensions, Economic, Logistics, Global Security and the Right to Protect (R2P), Food Distribution, Global Financial Institutions, Civil Society Institutions, NGO’s, the UN, World Bank, G8, G20, IMF, Businesses and others, outlining the theme of how interconnected the world is. We looked at how even the best laid plans to make things better have unintended consequences on Human Security due to the complexity of linkages.

We looked at how Aid sometimes did more harm than good, and at the various examples of Truth and Reconciliation commissions, the history leading up to them, how they did their work, and the outcomes. » Continue reading “Human Security and Peacebuilding (Part 2)”

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Building Lasting Prosperity

Although most of my past articles have been addressed in some way to Business leaders who aspire to create sustainable value in their organizations, my readers have come from a wide array of people, some business leaders, some professionals in various fields, and many others.  I wanted to acknowledge all of you and hope that you continue to enjoy reading.

In my last article, I talked briefly about an organization called Partners for Prosperity. You may remember a Remington Shaver commercial where the President came on the television and said “I liked the product so much I bought the company”.  Well, in my case, I didn’t “buy the company” but when I understood what Partners for Prosperity was striving to achieve I “bought” the message and when they found themselves with an opening, they invited me to join them as their Executive Director and I accepted.

Does that mean the end of my coaching practice? Well, no. There are still individuals and organizations that can benefit from my coaching right here in the Cowichan Valley or in Vancouver or other locations and as long as some of my time is available, I’m still willing to serve those needs. Having said that, I’m very much looking forward to my work with Partners for Prosperity.

Since I’ve started with them, I’ve had a lot of questions about what Partners for Prosperity does and what it stands for. In order to explain that, it’s worth getting an understanding of what we mean when we talk about prosperity.

In the traditional sense, prosperity has been based on an economic perspective. When you run a business, prosperity is usually tied to making money. It means having assets or financial ability and that in turn translates into having the freedom to do whatever one chooses.

For us, prosperity is a little different. It’s still about freedom and the ability to choose but not quite so much in an economic sense. It is more about freedom to express culture diversity, to have food security, descent housing and infrastructure, gender equality, availability to education, fundamental freedom of choice with regard to religious belief (or not) without persecution, freedom to investigate and learn, and freedom to develop and share arts and culture.

» Continue reading “Building Lasting Prosperity”

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Partners for Prosperity

Since moving to Vancouver Island, I’ve had many great privileges and opportunities. The first, without question, is the opportunity of being closer to my family. My parents are recognized by many as celebrated community members who have provided many years of constant service, music and friendship. The second is that I have moved to a community where interculturalism is experienced and celebrated. The third is getting to know community and regional leaders who are involved in creating a more sustainable community. The fourth is enjoying the music, the arts and the beauty of the island. And last, but certainly not least, is the opportunity of getting to know many First Nations friends, attending their events, learning of their suffering and challenges, benefiting from the wisdom and the experiences of their elders, feeling embraced by their warmth and friendship, and witnessing the love and compassion that many friends are sharing with them in the healthy development of capacity and culture in their youngest generation. These children are, without any doubt, learning to be both the spiritual and intellectual the leaders of future generations.

Since arriving here, I have also had the great privilege of participating with and offering my assistance to a wonderful organization called Partners for Prosperity which I’ll speak more about later and provide a link to for those who are interested in learning more. » Continue reading “Partners for Prosperity”

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The 99 Dollar Laptop and the Impact of Technology on Poverty Reduction and Global Markets

Several years back, Nick Negroponte (of One Laptop per Child), began his quest to develop a laptop that was affordable for distribution to children in developing nations and which could use local wireless networking. While the program had it’s ups and downs, it did produce a positive result and assisted in helping many school children to have access to computers that were interconnected. What’s more important is that, in targeting a $100 laptop, he and other like him, set a benchmark for all laptop makers, who at very least, had to sit up and take notice. Bill Gates and others in the hardware and software industry at the time understandably were critical of the idea. They may not have believed he would reach this target, but they could be certain that he would try and this meant that the approach to driving revenues from software and hardware would need to evolve from a high cost per user to high number of users at a very low cost. And by setting this goal, a new paradigm was established for all hardware and software companies, especially those who wanted the program to succeed.

While we could have predicted the reduction in price of laptops anyway, as a result of continued exponential advances in technology, targeting $100 was, at the time, aggressive to say the least. Having said that, the only real question was “how long will it take”? At long last, several computer makers are building $100 laptops (netbooks) including Cherrypal and others albeit generally on an Android platform rather than Windows. 

After, more or less achieving the initial goals of OLPC, Negroponte is targeting a new $75 price point for OLPC based on a tough, ultra low energy, solar powered tablet computer with an 8GHz processor by 2012. Immediately critics of his goal cry foul stating the obvious, that he isn’t a technology expert and that an ultra low power 8GHz processer will likely not be available at such a low price by 2012. But they are forgetting the fact that this is a paradigm setting goal and, for Negroponte, I suspect it is more about setting the target than it is about his personal success at reaching the goal.  If anyone reaches the goal, the children and youth of the world are still the beneficiaries and Negroponte wins.

And, not to worry, at the same time Negroponte is announcing his goal, the  Indian Institute of Technology has already announced its’ intention of developing a $35 (about 1500 rupees) solar powered tablet which will be available for Indian students along with wideband networking at it’s 22000 universities. This goal is from a country with a 63% literacy rate and success in developing a $2000 car for the masses. What is beginning to emerge is radical life changing technologies that will not only revolutionize the fortunes of India, but of the rest of the world. Computing power and access to information will soon be in the hands of every child and every person who wants it and, I for one, couldn’t be happier.

What are the impacts on the world? » Continue reading “The 99 Dollar Laptop and the Impact of Technology on Poverty Reduction and Global Markets”

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Individual (Legal?) Responsibility and Liability for Global Economic Justice

Over the weekend, I had the great privilege of attending a conference on “Rethinking Human Nature”, an incredible array of scholars and activists who, rather than protesting in the streets, demonstrated, by their examples of dedicated service, through their studies and their occupations, their deep and abiding concern for humanity. The conference theme was about evolving and developing the capacities of the higher human nature.

Among the many brilliant presenters was a young lady who is working on her PhD thesis whose presentation was entitled “What Can Justify Duties of Global Economic Justice? Individual Responsibility, Human Consciousness, and the Oneness of Humankind”. Her name is Shahrzad Sabet. In asking the question, she began by sharing with us the globally accepted UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights. She the began to dissect the responsibilities for the implementation of these rights. To be fair to Shahrzad, I will state that the remaining text is my perhaps feeble understanding of the arguments she so simply and brilliantly presented and perhaps, at some point, I will have a chance to speak with her further to clarify or to refer on-line to her thesis work, but I can only say that after hearing what she had to say, I was completely overwhelmed by her convincing arguments recognizing that there really isn’t a minute to lose in beginning to bring this argument forward on a wide basis, and I am also quite convinced that someday this young lady will be amongst the Nobel Peace Prize winners because these same arguments will force all nations and all people of conscience to take action. Such action will come in the form of adopting laws and practices which will require all citizens of the world (or at least those who have the freedom to vote or make buying decisions), all business leaders and all government leaders to act forcefully in upholding these Human Rights by taking practical, direct and personal responsibility for implementing Global Economic Justice through their votes for responsible government representatives, those who will make the necessary revisions in government institutions, and in turn, through laws which will require all people to make these Human Rights a reality.

In nations such as Pakistan, Haiti, India, Indonesia and many others, billions suffer under the oppression of poverty, the lack of a suitable infrastructure, and through catastophic environmental impacts, while much of the world continues to enjoy their freedoms without paying much attention and governments pay immense amounts of money towards military spending and the expansion of environmentally destructive practices which only serve to further human suffering.

Her arguement goes something like this: » Continue reading “Individual (Legal?) Responsibility and Liability for Global Economic Justice”

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The impacts of Technology and Ethics on Sustainability and Business

What impact do businesses and other organizations have on the Environment?

Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren developed a formula for examining environmental impact stating that I = f(PAT) where I is impact, P is Population, A is Affluence, T is Technology. In other words, if we increase global population, which is inevitable, in order to maintain environmental impact, we must reduce either the Affluence, or create Technologies that reduce individual and collective impact. Brown and Garver changed the formula to I = f(PATE) and added the influence of Ethics. They also conclude that each of these variables have an influence on the others. Without going into a deeper description of the variables, we can generally agree that from a world population view, this view of human impact of the planet seems fatalistic because we know that the planet is already stressed beyond limits and on average, Population and Affluence are both increasing.

This would seemingly leave the entire hope of humanity resting upon the ability of Technology or a sudden swell of Ethics to decrease our net impact on the planet. Recent flooding in Pakistan disrupting the lives of 12 million people and leaving 4 million with food shortages, the worst in 80 years, mudslides in China, and a massive block of ice (260 square km and half the height of the empire state building) which recently fell off the ice shelf in Iceland into the water suggest that our climate is still shifting in uncontrolable and potentially dire directions. Ice falling off a land based shelf, by the way, does contribute to elevated ocean levels, cooling of oceans in the immediate vacinity of the ice, and vast amounts of fresh water (i.e. desalination) being dumped into the ocean and affecting ocean flows.

So here’s the question: Can we solve the issues facing us with only Technology and Ethics before our planet is irrepairably damaged and forces our hand on the factors of Affluence and Population?

The short answer is “probably not”! But there are ways in which Technology and Ethics can have an a positive impact on affluence and ethics and here’s how one idea of how a solution could unfold from an individual, business and global perspective. » Continue reading “The impacts of Technology and Ethics on Sustainability and Business”

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The Argument for Global Governance (and why businesses should ecourage it)

Creating World Leading Business

Initially, my goal in putting this blog together was to help business leaders in developing sustainable workplaces, providing tips on how to encourage a change in the culture of the organization that would support such efforts, and sharing concepts of communication and psychology of the work place that would help workers adopt sustainable goals, become more productive and be more passionate about their work. It’s still about that, but in the process of studying the many issues related to creating sustainable businesses in a sustainable world economy, I’ve come to believe that there are other considerations that are perhaps even more important.

All the traditional business arguments still exist that sustainability is really about eliminating waste and reducing expenses and that this is ultimately good for the business and the environment. So keep up the good work if you are deploying LEAN processes, adopting LEED standards for your buildings, using renewable energy sources, developing green teams, encouraging recycling and doing what you can towards water and energy conservation. You’re on the right path.

But let’s look at the bigger picture!

The goal of our economy » Continue reading “The Argument for Global Governance (and why businesses should ecourage it)”

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Sustainable International Development

I was recently invited to Vietnam to participate as an Investment Consultant on behalf of potential large scale North American investors to review a development project in Yen Tu, Vietnam, a place of pilgrimage for Vietnamese Buddhists. My consultancy work in the area of investment and development is based on a simple philosophy: If it isn’t good for the world, it isn’t good for the courtry either. Coupled with a recent course on sustainability the whole effort had me pondering the best ways to encourage and increase sustainable international development which aids a country in reducing poverty without taxing the planet’s resources.

Development has the potential to do harm but can also be used to do good if it addresses the local needs in a sustainable way. But even high standards such as LEEDs doesn’t guarantee that the results will be positive. On the other hand, using investment opportunities such as Yen Tu to encourage Sustainable Development and the use of LEEDs standards will certainly help to create skills for the future. It increases local expertise related to sustainable building practices, especially when the work is performed primarily by local developers. And it ensures that newly acquired expertise stays local and gets used on future building projects.

From an investment perspective, one way is to encourage sustainable development is to share methods and approaches through active program participation, collaboration and educational programs which allow for project participates to learn new sustainable techniques, always bearing in mind that we can also learn something from the local participants. Some investors are interested only in getting a good return on investment and less interested in how the development work actually gets done. Savvy investors recognize that sustainable building practices bring higher returns, especially when looking a long term value of the project. (If you happen to have access to a few hundred million you’d like to invest, feel free to call me and I’d be happy to direct you on how to invest in this or other projects in Vietnam. After all, there is a very satisfying feeling when you invest in a project that makes a difference in the world while earning you a reasonable rate of return.) Given a secure revenue stream, which the Yen Tu project certainly promises (see details below), long term profits will always be higher when operating expenses are reduced, a natural outcome of lower energy and resource costs. It’s simple math.

» Continue reading “Sustainable International Development”

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Sustainable Business and Global Innovation Networks

Have you ever noticed how world of business increasingly depends on concepts such as Business Clustering (geographically grouped businesses that work together to provide functions that one business alone can’t) as well as the growth of Global Innovation Networks (GIN – businesses that connect together globally to provide innovative products more efficiently by utilizing the local strengths and unique competative qualities of each country and market). Both trends continue in spite of the fact that, particularly from a GIN perspective and especially in weak economies, there is a continuous outcry to stop outsourcing and create jobs locally.

Have you ever noticed how much the structure of Business Clustering and Global Innovation Networks resemble the formation of neural nets in the brain? Just as there is a certain randomness in the brain’s learning process where dendrites create random spikes to other neural paths, some of which survive and other of which don’t, businesses create collaborative ventures and, likewise, some of these serve the needs of the market and others don’t. Just as the brain has compartmentalized functions and specific neurons that play different roles in the functioning of the brain, businesses have specific roles which they play and each cluster serves a different market segment.

So what does this similarity teach business leaders about the creation of Sustainable Businesses?

» Continue reading “Sustainable Business and Global Innovation Networks”

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How to move Investment Capital to Sustainable Technologies

Upon reviewing an article from the WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) and based on studies from the (IEA) International Energy Agency on the needs for energy in global development, one issue became crystal clear; that without investors feeling the need to move their funds toward Sustainable Technologies and Sustainable companies, there would be insufficient capital to keep up with growing global energy demand. While this causes a major problem for “developing” countries, it also causes a major challenge to move towards sustainable energy in “developed” countries. Note that I have added the quotes because, in a world that is being injured by much of the development we have experienced, one may question the long term efficacy of the whole notion of “development” as we currently know it. The term “Developed” in the fullness of time will more likely be something like “mature” and mature has a very different implication. What mature country would continue to destroy it’s own environment? Well, that’s a different topic so let’s move on.

In a quote from the report the author states that “Today private sector investments constitute the largest share (86%) of global investment flows and are expected to be essential to addressing climate change. A large additional flow of tens of billions of dollars will also be needed for adaptation.”

One of the most effective means of a government to weild it’s financial power is to influence the direction of Private Investment Capital. Rather than trying to “be” the investor as in many of the current government incentive scheme’s which directly invest, wouldn’t it be possible to take a different approach? » Continue reading “How to move Investment Capital to Sustainable Technologies”

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