The Role of Business in Building Sustainable Organizations and Society! – by Peter M. Senge

We will either ALL make it or NONE of us will make it !

The essential difference between CSR and sustainability, and how businesses have to urgently think long-term strategy in order to sustain existence!


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How people can live in harmony with their environment has always been an issue.

People start to see that we will not be able to continue to live the way we have been living!

The way we live and in a time we are so connected, we are actually so disconnected from the reality.


For the first time in history of humanity, we are starting to be part of the earth system, people are shaping the planet!


Not only people but also the corporate world is accepting that a swift change is mandatory!

More and more businesses and societies are awakening to this historic challenge.


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The big 3 systems that shape civilization:

– Food and water

– Energy and transport

– Materials footprint



Industries like the food sector will have to strategically change their story and adapt their strategy to remain in business.

The social and environmental imbalances are essential for strategic inclusion in business strategy.


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When looking at water, the issues are even far greater then we can imagine. By 2030 overpopulated regions in China and India will not be able to provide clean water to 30 to 80% of their population in those regions.


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Relative to the energy sector, we are facing a much tougher situation.

– Conservation and energy efficiency are not sufficiently to get our carbon footprint down

– Current RE-mix use is not enough to bring down the CO2 level from 400 to 300

– Reducing energy intensity (e.g.: China’s commitment 40% by 2020 and a reduction to growth expectation)



The material footprint of our consumer world is an embarrassment!


To support the lifestyle of an average person (US) it takes about 1MT of earth materials

95% of what we consume is wasted in the production process and in the end the product itself will get wasted as well.

We need to get away from the industrial linear economy to a circular economy – We need to look at how nature works. There is no waste in nature.

We need to generate value and reuse everything we take from Mother Nature



Senge 2a


Most companies look first at Cost & risk reduction and process efficiency (energy, waste, …) to enable improved shareholder value

Next came – or is in process of realization – Reputation and Legitimacy: re-branding (greening the economy), CSR and sustainability reporting


But there is more we can do and we need to look at tomorrow – the future and the sustainability of our businesses, through:


Innovation and Repositioning:

– Innovators don’t always have a full business plan ready. They are driven by passion and know there is a business opportunity down the line

– To make progress companies and their leaders need to join together in collaboration

– spearhead the technology and bring to market with a long-term profitability strategy


Growth push and Trajectory:

– Collaborative Competition: competition = (from Latin) striving together

– Being involved and at the forefront guarantees companies for long term sustainability / existence (competitive market share)

– Think more long-term to be and remain competitive



We will either ALL make it or NONE of us will make it into the next century!


We will not just have to collaborate amongst competitors and industries, but also across borders.

End the use of fossil-based industry and consumer market!

To achieve the goals, we need to be or have an:

– Open mind

– Open heart

– Open will