The Global Sustainability Network

Westminster Abbey. London. 21st May 2016

The Context

This 3rd meeting of the Global Sustainability Network continued to build on the discussions of the last 2 meetings.

Go To The First Meeting:
Go To The Second Meeting:

The Third Meeting

The day at Westminster Abbey was focused on Business & Government. Further discussions will focus on Media & Community in September in NYC. The conversations were a further opportunity to explore what we all want to achieve and how we move to actions. As with the previous meetings, the room was full of people with a passion to end slavery and human trafficking and to play a part in the broader remit of Goal 8.

“The room was packed full of people with very specific expertise, some already developing ideas for initiatives, some with initiatives already launched.”

Coming up with ideas is never likely to be a problem. Connecting and Integrating them — making sure they are the right ones — making them even stronger than they would be as independent solutions — that’s the challenge.

It was clear that there was real appetite for that.

Three Meetings

Lambeth Palace. The Vatican, Westminster Abbey

While we are not at the point (quite yet) of declaring a clear strategy and a clear role for this network we do have some robust principles and concepts emerging.

And we are sure there will be more.

A Reference To Goal 8

Therefore at the heart of this is the idea of creating a collective framework where every initiative has a place in the broader context of Goal 8. Where all the energy and each and every contribution can be mapped to the bigger picture — and where ideas and insights can be shared freely. All of that with a clear mechanism for selecting, assessing and integrating new initiatives.

IT’S NOT ONE THING! THE STORY FROM 1–10

This Is How We Reached That Conclusion:

Two Themes In One Day

The day was basically split into 2 threads which encouraged many related discussions — the primary intention being to gradually shift the discussion to more actionable levels while continuing to reflect on the anchoring question:

“How can we all work collaboratively to accomplish Goal 8 by 2030 — by adopting and expanding the existing great initiatives — and by launching more that unites the world towards achieving this common goal?”

The morning was dedicated to the Government perspective and the afternoon to that of Business.

Through the day we heard from a number of the invited members of this alliance — how they viewed the challenge, what they were already doing that they believed would offer value to our mission and what they felt was most needed to progress the idea, or even enrich and enhance it.

A Day Of Two Halves

The day was not designed as a day for making firm decisions. Naturally enough it raised more questions and resurfaced earlier/still unanswered questions.

What it also did was shine a light on some of the ideas that we can bring into the network. It started to identify the synergies (and the different approaches) that we might embrace and gave us valuable insights into the way we see the challenge. It also illustrated how our individual expertise influences the way we view solutions.

‘It’s NOT one thing!’
THE POWER OF CONNECTED THINKING AND A COLLECTIVE FRAMEWORK

Decisions Must Soon Emerge

Some important questions need answering and we made some progress in clarifying a coherent position, but there’s still work to do — much of which is fundamental if we are to achieve a strategy that’s executable.

Of Specific & Critical Importance:

GETTING TO A CLEAR BASELINE

ONE: Ensuring that we have a common definition for the most important terms — the very meaning of slavery for example, its scope, our scope and how we need to tackle the many manifestations of it quite differently

TWO: Being clear on the way we are interpreting Goal 8 — and the real extent of our contribution towards it. And — recognising the scale and scope of our contribution both tactically to create impact — and how that may grow over time.

THREE: Being crystal clear on our purpose and mission in an inclusive not exclusive universe. Vague definition of our aim will lead to countless waste and frustration for everyone.

“A strong heartfelt commitment to save humanity”

FOUR: The clear and well defined role of our ‘network’ — the alliance that we are shaping and how we will sustain contribution and ensure we go beyond words and into action. Managing everyone’s expectation as to the part we are playing.

“A philosophy of holistic and systemic thinking, partnership, collaboration and facilitation. Using collective power. Not reinventing the wheel. Actively involved in implementing positive change”

FIVE: Our definition (and metrics) of success — what we hope to achieve, how and by when. We have a very strong purpose but the strategy is yet to be fully articulated.

“We need to stand out as really doing things not just talking”.
A SINGLE VERSION OF EVERYTHING WE BELIEVE AND EVERY PRINCIPLE WE NEED TO KEEP

Developing The Context

We all agreed that we need that central ‘hub’ — a place of BOTH sharing AND connecting. It will come soon. In the meantime we are building the context that is now emerging and that will continue to develop in between these gatherings.

It builds from the ideas and perspectives that we heard and gives us input for the hub as we shape ideas into initiatives and decide where and how to invest time and energy:

THE ONLY WAY TO AMPLIFY OUR ENERGY AND SHARE OUR MANY VOICES

The Ideas Hub

What follows is a very early synthesis of the various ideas that were presented during the day. Rather than list each idea we have merged similar thoughts and approaches as a way of mapping the synergies.

This does not assume that these ideas are declared initiatives, this will involve further discussion.

THE HAIRBALL IS A SIMPLIFICATION OF HOW ENTANGLED THIS CHALLENGE IS

A Redefinition Of The Supply Chain

Introducing the concept of ‘supply chain integrity’* into the legal system.

The Discussion Themes:

The idea is to engage the business itself in solving the problems – not simply treating them like willing conspirators. Done correctly and with public opinion increasingly on the side of more ethical business it can mean opportunity and survival for more and more of them.

The aim is that countries accept that such integrity is a fundamental part of corporate governance. We would be introducing laws that force business to report on compliance and what they are doing specifically.

We need pragmatic laws that recognize business can’t control everything — but not allow business to take advantage of slavery in their supply chains — or not report on what they are doing.

*The ‘supply chain’ is a phrase that’s loaded with important subtleties and connotation. It’s very convenient for a business to look at what’s in its own purview — a limited field of vision — and make dangerous assumptions that all’s well up and downstream. We need to make business leaders realise that we are talking about the WHOLE supply and in fact also the demand chain. Supply chain talks about only half of the challenge.

We need to move to a meaningful — ‘free of inequity’ — value chain. New definitions are required. Same point as in below — it’s not just enough to make laws in the country of manufacture or requirement but in all the implicated countries of origin and distribution or supply.

Governments do not know enough about this issue (as a whole) to create new laws. We can figure it out WITH businesses and pass sensible new laws as/if required.

If the information is not accurate then other (perhaps existing) laws can kick in and we can identify the gaps and contradictions that would weaken our ability to enforce.

There are times when being less heavy handed is more effective. What we need are ways to make companies take accountability — ideally through disclosure and self governance. Businesses would have to positively confirm that they are not taking advantage of slavery in their supply chains.

We have to ensure accountability – do everything possible to motivate them to take this approach.

“Don’t focus so much on the countries where the problem exists — put spotlight on countries that are complicit. — Find examples of those situations where slavery is found and where it’s possible to demonstrate how it is being tackled and the good that is being done.”

Do this in partnership with government and business – where new models are being co-created. Business can be motivated to invest.

WITHOUT MINDSET AND MENTALITIES SHIFTING WE WILL NEVER CHANGE THE SYSTEMS THAT THESE MINDSETS CREATED IN THE FIRST PLACE

Reinventing Business.

Mindsets needs to change not just laws.

The Discussion Themes:

Laws are uneven. Many countries don’t even know their laws. We are talking about wholesale mindset and behavioural shift – a shift of rituals and habits, defaults and denials.

Systems need to make businesses responsible and accountable. Most organisations pay lip service to CSR. They do what stakeholders want them to do — drive up profits. These influencers need to shift their mindsets as well. We need to address the greed and reasons that fuel this.

Transparent businesses that measure impact in the right places — identifying where the biggest impacts are (not simply in immediate areas of operations).

“We have to look at impact beyond traditional business boundaries. Imagine the raw materials cost by environmental impact — environmental calories on products. Introducing a global standard for sustainability reporting.”

Being 100% Human at Work — not just diversity, gender and workplace but also including the environment — solving the non human problems we are causing. Loss of biodiversity, reduction in natural habitats. Finding businesses that have the restorative power.

Using business as a tool to reduce and solve problems — not business as usual, creating a movement embracing young innovators and business thought leaders

“Impact one generation of children and youth and we WILL be able to impact the future of business and government…”

Tackling every form of child slavery and dealing with the issue in a holistic manner — creating a generation that truly understands the issue and has much greater insight and capability to put an end to it. This generation must be given the attention and care it needs to develop their potential, to become future leaders.

Slavery is a big problem but just impacting one person at a time can also change many lives. Former victims carry huge credibility, people whose lives have changed offer future solutions, there are children in forced labour who have the potential to be leaders of the future — given half a chance.

Slavery and trafficking takes many forms — and results in many types of enslavement. It’s a complex web — motivation, circumstance, need, driver etc. leading for forced labour, sex slavery, forced military service

We are fighting organized crime here.

This is a model built on creating relationships and trust, on engaging the entire community in ways that are effective and pragmatic. It involves everyone taking responsibility to act in whatever way is appropriate for them, not simply standing by and waiting for others to solve the problem.

Supporting this are global programmes helping create life plans, putting life into context — finding mentors, scaling the power that changes people’s lives — creating activists to make change occur.

USING COMMUNICATION AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES TO BRING AROUND A GROUNDSWELL OF UNDERSTANDING

Harness the Power of Women

Every child has a mother and we can draw on that bond to mobilise the women in community.

There are many examples of the impact women can have on social issues. Armed with nothing more than their mobile phone — something that we know is widely available and utilised in every country now — they are a force to be reckoned with.


The Theory Of Change

Making accountability work at the grassroots level — the theory of change.

“1. If we understand the decision making model and process and the system dynamics…and 2 we map the real issues on the ground — and get the real information out there at the local level… and 3 we develop a listening dialogue and culture…and 4 we can find ways to get diverse stakeholders to talk to each other — and build trust…and 5 we build networks of people with strong relationships and a willingness to share…then 6 we can mobilize people to address those issues — on the ground.”
A HIGHLY VISIBLE AND GLOBAL MECHANISM FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND INTEGRITY

Launch A Global Index On Goal 8.

Finding champions in each area to work on this.

The Discussion Themes:

Make governments take their agreements seriously. Make the goals stand for something. Bring in the accountability.

Learn from the work of (EG) Mo Ibraham — he has an Africa index but as yet hasn’t taken this to a global level. Start with selected countries in a pilot. Some countries are already setting up Goal 8 centers. Prove the model and then grow it. Make sure this is not voluntary and build ownership in leaders. Create a compelling narrative — and give it maximum profile

Supporting this is the iconic mark that is recognised globally (the Freedom Seal). 3rd party accreditation that affirms a business is taking every possible step in eradicating slavery from their supply chains — assessing and promoting awareness of the issue, helping to get victims reintegrated into society, cleaning up supply chains.

Leverage And Accountability

Use the financial platform to create greater awareness.

The Discussion Themes:

Use business as a tool to reduce and solve problems — moving from business as usual.

Develop and promote corporate philanthropy models within a business — models that are focused on something other than financial profit — impact value. A separate vehicle to the traditional models in business, not an alternative.

Shift what we value in business — business — this has to be about more than financial profit. Broaden the perspective of how we define success and what matters. Different business models that look at profit from multiple perspectives and through different lenses.

Measuring impact — in the right places — identifying where the biggest impacts are (not simply in the business’s own operations) we have to look at impact beyond traditional business boundaries

WORKING TO ALTER THE SYSTEMS THAT RESIST CHANGE AND FAVOUR THE INEQUITIES

Identifying Interventions — Understanding Action

This Is Not One Thing

The Discussion Themes:

Can/how do we make a multitude of individual activities add up to a tidal wave? How do we design and implement a collective framework that will lead to more integrated and powerful solutions?”

It seems a powerful concept to join forces. It’s a definite and noble theme but it can’t be the only strategy. There’s unlikely to be one strategy (or one organisation/yet another organization) that can be globally unified in order to tackle such complexity. It sounds convenient and yet unrealistic.

We heard that it’s far better to act as a coordinator of networks — a ‘networker of networks’ and yet the more we understand – the more everyone is also saying that — Join Now, We Need To Unite, Etc… and yet we don’t feel the result just now…

Why is that? What can/should we do? Is it even feasible?

The reality is that such coordination in a world of individual egos in institutional silos (who may well nod and agree) is admirable but we will still fail to meaningfully connect and mobilise anything whatsoever.

We have to literally see — we have to define what such connection even means. In truth we require a wide spectrum and large number of different and simultaneous activities. They will inevitably run together and separately.

Isolated action isn’t a complete waste of time (on the basis of the individual hummingbird) but with coordination a flock of hummingbirds might well start the kind of wave/flocking we want.

We can explain it as a form of globally intelligent pattern recognition (of the enemy) and then the meticulous coordination – built onto a root cause map that identifies the weak spots.

The wickedness of the actual problem defies traditional or two dimensional mapping — this is as *multi-dimensional as it can get.

*Think about the complexities found in chemical formulae or the viscosity associated with biology — a world where the conditions exist for viruses to spread around fluids at speed — persistent and invisible forces and agents sending signals and undermining their hosts bodies — creating conditions and forming and reforming at real time speed — as quickly as we see evidence present itself it is gone — the connections although very real on the surface through their effects are so complex and interconnected. This means the remedies need to equally subtle, nuanced and biologically complex in their formulae.

We also need to be equipped/ready to have the answer wrapped up simply and bluntly — for the simple and blunt stakeholders who lack the attention or appetite to understand the above.

Making Progress

The Global Sustainability Network is focused on action and progress. What follows are just the start of a series of initiatives in pursuit of meaningful achievement of the SDG’s.

Bhuvan Ribhu of ‘Bachpan Bachao Andolan -BBA’s mission is to identify, liberate, rehabilitate and educate children in servitude through direct intervention, child and community participation, coalition building, consumer action, promoting ethical trade practices and mass mobilisation in India.

Rani Hong of the Tronie Foundation created the Freedom Seal: a game-changing, economic solution to end forced labor. The Freedom Seal removes the financial incentive of forced labor as businesses can gain market share through increased transparency and anti-trafficking efforts.

Jochen Zeitz: The B Team comprises some of the world’s most committed and influential business leaders working together with civil society leaders and former heads of state, to redefine the role of business in the world.

As a collective, the B Team lead by example in their own companies, use their voices and influence in the moments that matter and get behind existing efforts. They work to reverse environmental degradation and climate change, tackle corruption and protect human rights and wellbeing.

Pete Talibart is looking at bringing the concept of supply chain integrity for human beings into the law of corporate governance of all the major legal jurisdictions in the world — where a legal solution rather than punishment engages the company and their cooperate Directors/ business leaders to become part of the solution.