Integrating Ecology and Business

Fresh off Climate Reality Leadership trading with the former Vice President of the United States Al Gore, I take my role as a climate leader very seriously. When I was doing my MBA at Schulich School of Business in Toronto, there was no environmental science and business school integration. I had to convince my professors that the electives that I wanted to take were relevant to my future as an MBA. I needed to demonstrate that courses in the School of Environmental Sciences should count as credit towards my masters in business.

Fortunately, there were a couple of professors that had the foresight to know that what gets measured in the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and GNP (Gross National Product) does not accurately illustrate the whole picture about what makes up the health and wealth of a nation and its economy. Al Gore shared the sobering anecdote that Simon Kuznets, who invented the GDP economic system, said that economists should not use his system as a way to measure how a country is doing financially as it is very limited in its scope.

Just twenty some years ago, when I was pursuing these business studies, cost accounting measurements for the environment, natural resources and pollution were not being taken into consideration. There were no costs associated with factories dumping wastes into lakes or sending carbons into the atmosphere. Now most business schools around the world have integrated programs with environmental sciences and business administration. This illustrates that universities now know that a business person must be aware of their relationship with and impact upon the environment to be a healthy, successful and moral business person. This integrated dance between science, environment and business is necessary. It is paving the way for governments and corporations to follow suit.

As the price of solar power has significantly come down, I was delighted to learn from the Climate Reality Leadership Training that solar power may soon take over coal and fossil fuel as our primary means of power. In Canada alone, there are just as many people employed in the solar industry as there are in the oil and gas industry. That is a big change. And the change is gaining momentum. Eco businesses are showing signs of being one of the largest growth industries in the next few decades. People like Warren Buffet are divesting billions of dollars from companies like Exxon to purchase solar power.

Third world countries that cannot afford the cost associated with developing the infrastructure necessary to supply electricity to their towns and villages can now leapfrog ahead with the use of an affordable sun-driven source of energy to which they can have easy and direct access, and that does not harm the planet. While we in the Western world are still being convinced by big businesses that we cannot afford to do away with fossil fuels and change to solar, our deep entrenchment blinds us to the reality that affordable ecological alternative means of power are not only possible, but smart and necessary.

I have always known that a healthy relationship between ecology and commence is essential for sustainable business and long term profitability. It is also essential if we want to live in a healthy world. Thankfully, with perseverance, commitment and dedication, it looks like we will be able to win the race against climate change by understanding that in any business decision, we must consider not just short term gain but the long term impact of our actions on our entire planet.

Rishi bioSince 1994, Rishi Deva, founder and CEO of RishiVision and entrepreneurial coach, has empowered thousands of businesses. Rishi has an MBA in marketing and entrepreneurial studies and a BBA in accounting. He has spent nearly twenty years coaching, consulting, managing and supporting thousands of businesses from new startups to active global leaders.

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