By Leslie Back
Last week, while speaking at the Green Economy Business and Leadership Briefing, Will Day, Chairman of the UK’s Sustainable Development Commission and advisor to the UN Development Program (UNDP), suggested that sustainability is the greatest business opportunity of the 21st century. The presentation, delivered to Irish business leaders, served fair warning that the trends towards global warming, food scarcity, oil and mineral depletion, overpopulation and more have necessitated new business opportunities. We are, insists Day, on a destructive, even apocalyptic path, especially as it relates to our warming planet. We are running out of oil, food, fish, and we are cooking. Wow, I am depressed.
But, there is hope. There is still time. Day insists that the decarbonization of economies will happen so opportunities will be there for those who are willing to take the plunge, unglue themselves to the power of black fuel (oil and coal) and find new and sustainable methods for business.
I hope the business world is listening. According to Ellen Weinreb of Sustainability Recruiting, year-over-year as of Q3 2009, CSR (Corporate Sustainability or Corporate Social Responsibility) job postings decreased 68%.
I suppose the doom and gloom offered by Day provides hope for my cohorts and me. I am seven weeks into my Sustainable MBA and I chose this route because I want to make my living being a part of the solutions to these seemingly overwhelming problems. I am an optimist and we have not passed the point of no return. This little blue planet is facing so many environmental and social dilemmas we should all have plenty of opportunities upon graduation.
Of course, I jest. I would willingly and happily find myself gainfully unemployed at the end of this pricey green MBA because the oceans were cleaned, crude oil was replaced with French fry grease and the air was cool and clear. I am an optimist, yes, but also a realist. Regrettably, my prospects are good. I have work to do and much to learn. There is much for all of us to do. Here we go.
Leslie Back is a first-year Sustainable MBA student at Green Mountain College. Study interests include environmental conservation, social responsibility and the power of corporate and non-profit partnerships to bring about positive change. Other areas of interest include social media in sustainable marketing and public policy. She holds an MA in Organizational Management and a BS in Leisure Management. On the rare occasions when she is not studying, she enjoys writing, reading, running, nature walks and yoga. She hopes to use her skills, talents and education to make a positive impact with an environmentally and socially conscious organization.