Davos is not leading to 'timely, effective action' Now is the time to bring on the B Team

January 23rd, 2015  |  Source: The Guardian

The chairman of Volans John Elkington and the B Team’s Jochen Zeitz say leaders need to do more than talk; they need to take action – fast. The B Team announces its Plan B for Business to help steer the global economy on a more sustainable course this week in Davos, Switzerland

Who knows how many drafts Moses chiselled atop Mount Sinai to produce his stone tablets? But the B Team, a not-for-profit initiative to “make business work better”, is now at the polishing stage with 10 challenges it plans to take up a very different mountain. It will launch its Plan B for Business platform in Davos, Switzerland, where the 2015 World Economic Forum summit opens its doors today.

Such events are great for meeting movers and shakers, and we speak from experience. But is all this talk leading to timely, effective action – and at the necessary scale? We believe the answer is no.

Business should be – and some chief executive officers (CEOs) are – increasingly concerned. Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman is among those Davos-bound this year. Like other leaders who have swung behind the B Team, he argues that the needle must be shifted radically to put the global economy on a truly sustainable course. “The issues we are facing are of such magnitude that it’s not about one company doing this or that,” Polman said.

The challenge for top-flight talking shops, the World Economic Forum foremost among them, is not simply to discuss stretch agendas, but also to help implement them at the necessary pace and scale. Where they fail, the market must provide effective alternatives.

We sense that 2015 will be one of those extraordinary moments in history, like 1968 or 1989 – when seismic shifts change the way that people see the relevant political and economic challenges.

There will be an avalanche of summits. In what Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute dubs the “Year of Sustainable Development”, the UN has no less than three mega-events planned. There will be an event in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, that focuses on the global financial system, another in New York that launches the Sustainable Development Goals, and the COP21 climate summit in Paris where attendees will begin to address what Lord Nicholas Stern called the biggest “market failure” in history.

In his new synthesis report on the post-2015 agenda, the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon stresses that everyone they consulted “underscored the need to integrate economic, social and environmental dimensions across the new agenda” –what the B Team dubs the “people, planet and profit agenda.”

Read on here: http://www.theguardian.com/the-b-team-partner-zone/2015/jan/21/b-team-davos-world-economy-richard-branson

John Elkington is chairman of Volans and a member of the B Team Advisory Board. Jochen Zeitz is the former chairman and CEO of PUMA and now co-chairman with Sir Richard Branson of the B Team. John and Jochen are co-authors of a new book, The Breakthrough Challenge: How to Connect Today’s Profits With Tomorrow’s Bottom Line.

Content on this page is brought to you by the B Team, a sponsor of Davos coverage.

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