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Forbes June 2013 spread

Jennie S. Bev, Santa Clara

More and more businesses declare
that they’re environmentally friendly, ecologically conscious, and sustainable.
Ecofriendly signs have become a seal of
approval that a product is good for the environment, yet many questions remain
unanswered. Still, many believe that it’s better to choose something with a seal of approval than without one.

Interestingly, corporate social
responsibility (CSR) programs often are publicity-oriented than truly providing
social values for stakeholders. In today’s business world, “sustainable” and “CSR”
seem to have become overused and it’s hard to separate hype from reality.
According to Ecological Footprint’s
calculations, the world’s population currently
consumes 1.5 times global capacity. The
earth is now being asked to sustain 7 billion people. It took 200,000 years to
reach a population of 1 billion in the 1800s. Scarcity has definitely taken
center stage in the larger
scheme of things: by mid-century the world’s population would reach nine billion. The world is unlikely to cope
with the exponential loss.

Even with a population of 7 billion, greenhouse gas emissions and natural
resource consumption must be decreased considerably to be able to reach a “sustainable” level. Analysts have begun to see a
state of emergency has arrived. In regions where ongoing violence and extreme
poverty are rampant, “sustainability” seems
a distant goal. Whether Indonesia has fallen into this category
remains to be seen. University of Indonesia Public Policy scholar Andrinof Chaniago
has offered a solution to Jakarta’s overpopulation: moving
the capital city to
Kalimantan.

As we currently live in the
so-called anthropocene era—an informal geologic chronological
term that serves to
mark the evidence and extent of human activities that have had a significant
global impact on global ecosystems—we bear
the highest responsibility to ensure that our species and nature are well
managed and maintained. Corporations, naturally, bear some, if not larger, part of
the blame for all these perilous changes in the environment now and in the
future.

According to analysts’ consensus as presented by Johan Rockstorm of
Stockholm Resilience Center and his team, seven quantifiable critical planetary boundaries
are climate change, stratospheric ozone, ocean acidification, nitrogen and
phosphorus cycles, biodiversity loss, land use change, and freshwater use.
Incremental tweaking might not be sufficient to safeguard the earth from further deterioration—radical innovations are the answer.

At least three major shifts of
awareness must be adopted immediately. First, the linear exploitation of nature
must be stopped immediately. Second, innovations should focus on potentially raising the quality of life for all humanity. Thus,
large-scale high-tech innovations in IT, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and
energy systems must seriously
consider this requirement. Third, destructive paths must be replaced by
non-destructive and nurtured with
self-replacement paths. Business executive must rise to this challenge now unless they want to see a global collapse of the
“sustainable” environment.[]

FORBES Indonesia, June 2013

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