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!


Senge 1


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.


Senge 4


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.


Senge 3


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.


Senge 5


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



Inspire in balance and harmony with nature!


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Resilient Economics

Economic sustainability requires radical rethinking, redesign and reorganization of economies to reflect the paradigm of healthy living systems!  #ecoNable #Econologics

An economy that relies solely on economic incentives, whether from markets or governments, will leave some people without the basic necessities of life.

The “3-Rs” of ecological efficiency, while necessary, are not sufficient to ensure ecological sustainability.


“Economic sustainability ultimately will require radical rethinking, redesign, and reorganization of economies to reflect the paradigm of healthy living systems.” – John Ikerd


3-Rs of ecological efficiency or resourcefulness reduce, reuse and recycle

3-Rs of ecological regeneration – renewal, reproduction and reorganization

3-Rs of ecological resilience resistance, responsiveness and redundancy

Balancing Efficiency with Longevity Healthy living systems must continually balance their natural tendency toward greater efficiency with their quest for longevity or sustainability. The pursuit of efficiency appears to be a natural characteristic of all living systems.

The Three Rs of Ecological Resourcefulness

Healthy living systems continually reorganize and rearrange their component parts in ways that reduce, reuse, and recycle the energy that flows through their systems and fuel both their productive and regenerative processes. These so-called “3-Rs” of ecological efficiency or resourcefulness, while necessary, are not sufficient to ensure ecological sustainability.


The Three Rs of Ecological Regeneration

By nature, most animals devote a large portion of their energy to conceiving, gestating, and raising their offspring. By nature, plants and animals redesign and reorganize their structures as they evolve from generation to generation. Sustainable living systems must balance the 3-Rs of ecological resourcefulness with the 3-Rs of ecological regeneration – renewal, reproduction, and reorganization.

The Three Rs of Ecological Resilience

Increasing complexity leads to loss of authentic diversity and interdependence. Diverse systems are resistant and tough, complex systems are fragile and vulnerable.

Sustainable systems must balance the 3-Rs of ecological resourcefulness, the 3-Rs of ecological regeneration and the 3-Rs of ecological resilience – resistance, responsiveness, and redundancy.


Learning Economic Resilience From Nature’s Example

Sustainable economic organizations and individuals are microcosms of sustainable economies and must possess the same characteristics if they are to function sustainably.

A national or global society in which some prosper while others live in poverty or starve is inherently unstable and unsustainable. Economic sustainability is no less dependent on social relationships than on ecological relationships. Economic sustainability ultimately will require radical rethinking, redesign, and reorganization of economies to reflect the paradigm of healthy living systems.


The Essential Characteristics of Economies — And How They [Could] Drive Sustainability

[Corp. Sustainability]: Connecting to the Belgian front-liners in sustainability!

Interview with Ralph Thurm, Directeur Collaborative Sustainability & Innovation with Deloitte Nederland and owner consultancy A|HEAD|ahead


From less bad to good enough!


Sustainability is a journey!
First, directing the team towards sustainability, than approaching the customers, making them enthusiastic before they themselves do.


Corporate social responsibility and commitment to sustainability – International standards to distinguish between greenwashing and real sustainability!
Standards, guidelines, technical protocols and clear indicators are needed.
We have become less bad, but we do not really know what is good enough for our planet. We must move from efficiency-driven indicators to impact indicators. Especially now we have more and more data available, such as various aspects of the ecological footprint and monetizing ecosystem services. To be less bad is not good enough anymore. We have to learn to measure what is minimal good enough. As John Elkington advocates in his book Zeronauts: Breaking the Sustainability Barrier.


Actually, we want more: regenerative growth and positive impact growth (PIG)!
Give back more than what we take from the planet. Otherwise we are not sufficiently coping with the rebound effects from climate change and population growth.


The united strength of companies bigger than all the governments of the world together!
Despite the difficult economic and capitalist logic world in which we live now, there are today in all industries a number of leading players who say that we must act now if we are to avoid to lose much more in twenty years from now. Companies like Puma have a first environmental profit & loss account drawn up and they are working on a second with more aspects, not just around CO2, energy and water. With the risk that anyone can view and a lot of sensitive information disclosed, Puma does this so that everyone would understand why they do it and so others would follow their example.


Gradual process of change towards sustainability or a great revolution!
Do not expect a big swing, but relatively lots of earthquakes and landslides. It will not be all smooth. We are at the beginning of a transition phase. The interesting thing is that most of the social and economic transition phases in the past were preceded by financial crisis. Especially when it appears obvious that we cannot resolve the crisis with financial interventions only.
Also many other domino-effects play a role, such as the food and climate crisis. You will now see a real change in attitudes occurring.


Knowing that it is not going well with our planet, gives a great sense of responsibility and finding the right answers to our many questions remains a strong motivation.


The following interview was first published in ARGUSactueel on 24th of January 2013. It was done a couple of days before my keynote speech in Antwerp at the Belgian Global Compact Network meeting on January 30, organized in collaboration with VOKA (the Chamber of Commerce for Vlanderen), and the Antwerp World Diamant Center. The text is in Dutch language. I thank the organizers for the wonderful opportunity to talk in front of more than 80 careful listeners, connect to the Belgian frontliners in sustainability, and finally visit Antwerp!

Ralph Thurm – Een stap verder dan duurzaamheid

Op woensdag 30 januari komt Zeronaut Ralph Thurm naar Antwerpen. Hij is in ons land nog niet echt bekend, maar zijn systematische en holistische aanpak van MVO- en duurzaamheidskwesties maken hem tot een zeer boeiende vertegenwoordiger van de wereldwijde transitiebeweging.

Thurm staat voor een holistische aanpak van duurzaamheid en maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen en brengt dat in…

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Thriving Beyond Sustainability

[Thrivability]: Thriving Beyond Sustainability – the cultural paradigm change! #ecoNable #Econologics
– Andres Edwards

Leading the charge into a future of hope and possibility, exploratiion of the influence and teachings of indigenous cultures on our present society, Edwards focuses on what will make our Earth Island survivable for future generations.

the 3 “E’s” of sustainability:
– economics,
environmental consciousness, and
– equity – social justice

5 interrelated global trends that command our attention:
– ecosystem decline,
– energy transition,
population growth,
economic disparity, and
– climate change.



Review of Andres Edwards’ Thriving Beyond Sustainability – by Rick Medrick

SPIRALS: a new set of strategies, involving initiatives that are: Scalable, Place-making, Intergenerational, Resilient, Accessible, Life-affirming, and Self-care. The content of this volume explores these characteristics in detail under the context of striving for thrivability and not just sustainability.

This new concept, thrivability, focuses on a vision of collaboration and abundance where, instead of seeing ourselves separate from nature, we become an integral part of natural systems and embody qualities such as empathy, compassion, and creativity to guide our actions within the human community.

[Education]: Do Schools Kill Creativity? #ecoNable #ecoViVaCity #Econologics

The dominant systems of education are based on three “assumptions” that are exactly opposite to how human lives are actually lived.
~ Ken Robinson

1) they promote standardization and a narrow view of intelligence when human talents are diverse and personal.
2) they promote compliance when cultural progress and achievement depend on the cultivation of imagination and creativity.
3) they are linear and rigid when the course of each human life, including yours, is organic and largely unpredictable.

Art of learning


“People and organizations everywhere can see that current systems of education are failing to meet the challenges we now all face and they’re working furiously to create alternatives.”Sir Ken Andy Robinson

These are definitely the relevant basics of where our generation is failing to deal with resilience in our current society – political, social and economical. These principals need urgent change in our education of the young and future generations, to overcome our defects on dealing with and avoiding the chaos we have created in our world.


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ecoNVERGE® wishes you an energizing 2013 and a progressive future for all!

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This year has been full of great accomplishment, new ventures, surprises, sacrifices and happiness.
During this season of celebration and for the coming new year I wish you, your family and your connected circles a better and sustainable year for our surroundings and future generations,
where all your goals become achievable with an amazing lasting happiness.
Take this Holidays Season to renew, re-energize and regenerate your ideas and goals.

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Together with ecoNVERGE® we wish for an energizing 2013 and a progressive future for all!
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WE are Unlimited!

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Don’t let the world change your smile

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Realizing Sustainable Balance in Our Social and Economic Circle of Life!
– WE are Unlimited!

We change the way we LIVE! – We change the way of LIFE!
Assimilate sustainable growth! Join our CoPs / Think-Tanks.
Be part of the CHANGE – PARTICIPATE your change!