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The commercial morals of sustainability

April 12, 2022

Yesterday, my 9-year-old grandson declared that money is evil. He has concluded that the world should operate through acts of kindness. We then discussed some of the practical realities behind trade, human progress and economics. By the end of our conversation, he came to accept that there is benefit in having an agreed medium of exchange and that the real problem is in the way that wealth is pursued.

This is surely the moral issue that lies at the heart of the sustainability agenda – it is our need to balance core values of personal or organizational benefit with broader social well-being. Ultimately, it is a matter of conscience.

A shared endeavor

In this context, I believe we must view sustainability as a shared endeavor to improve our world – not an opportunity to make money.

The environmental and social principles that underlie these new values create a need for shared standards of governance. Those standards include increased collaboration, greater transparency and an acceptance of shared responsibility. They depend on unity of purpose, superseding traditional forms of competition, operating across the boundaries of faction and function.

Building this new structure must be open and accessible to all – an inclusive experience for voices to be heard, ideas shared and respected, knowledge and learning to be freely accessed. Once we start charging money – for example, conferences or training programs that demand delegate fees – we inevitably exclude many from participation. And that is why World Commerce & Contracting is developing a series of free events, open to all who wish to participate. It is part of the new face of commerce. I hope you will join us for the first of these, on May 17th.

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