Planet Ponzi. Is Stakeholder Value the Solution?

And seriously, do you expect the likes of Coca Cola, Amazon, Walmart, Google, Facebook and all the global banks to be trusted with reducing consumption to save the planet?


Davos 2020.  The elite gathering of CEO's and bankers agreed in principle that if they don't do something soon to alleviate the destruction to society and the environment, the pitchforks will be on their way.  They agreed to "do good to do well".  Fine sentiments.  But exactly how much "good" is actually required?

So now we have moved on from 'shareholder value' to 'stakeholder value'.

O'Leary and Valdamis review the various tricks of the "do good" trade from triple bottom line, carbon offsets and corporate social responsibility to ESG (Environment, Society and Governance), virtue seeking disinvestment and B-Corporations.  Their general conclusion is that none of these actions have any real and measurable effect on the big picture of environmental and climate damage. 

Renewables remain at 2% of overall energy production, consumption of oil and gas is increasing, environmental destruction continues at an alarming rate with at least 60% of our bio-diversity destroyed in the last 100 years, population still rising, oceans being decimated and temperature heading skywards.  

In addition global corruption has spread faster than Covid 19 and is many times more dangerous.  And when it comes to actually managing a real and physical planet we simply have no suitable structure and certainly no adults in the room to do the job.

All of the above however is complex.  My back-of-an-envelope calculation says we are over consuming natural resources by 50% every year.  We are living on Planet Ponzi. And seriously, do you expect the likes of Coca Cola, Amazon, Walmart, Google, Facebook and all the global banks to be trusted with reducing consumption to save the planet?

The authors conclude that organisations will not rescue us and the planet on their own, but at least their best efforts must be practical and measurable.  In addition their impact must be in the area where they do business.  For example a manufacturer of plastic bottles needs to take action to ensure they do not land up in the ocean.

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