segunda-feira, 9 de agosto de 2010

The Second Half (por John Elkington)

Late last year, I was asked by Professor David Grayson—who holds the Chair at the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility, Cranfield University—what was bubbling under in my brain? Having just hit 60, my answer was “ageing—and the implications for the capacity of our societies and economies to respond efficiently, effectively and good time to the growing range of sustainability challenges.”

Very soon, Volans was hosting brainstorms at our Bloomsbury Place offices on related themes, initially led by David Grayson, David Metz (a former Chief Scientist at the UK Department of Transport), Charmian Love (our Chief Executive) and myself. Charmian herself had spurred my interest in this space with her comments about the likely future inequities in pension schemes, with younger people helping to sustain older people—and particularly the Baby Boomers about to head into retirement—yet unable to look forward to anything like the same levels of support and care in later life.

Accenture then swung in behind ‘Second Half’ Program that evolved from these early discussions—co-hosting workshops with key organizations in related fields. But what do we mean by ‘fields’? Picture a Venn diagram in which the ageing, entrepreneurship and sustainability agendas overlap. That overlap has been the focus of our discussions, with a short paper developed—and now available on the Volans website. Among early themes: changing Baby Boomer attitudes to work, the segmentation of markets aimed at the over-50s, and innovation targeted at the over-50s.

This is why we are focusing a significant slice of our Volans Innovation Lab resources in this area and advancing an innovation agenda around the idea of an Ageing Economy, just as we argue in The Transparent Economy, “A world of 9 billion people by mid-century will be unsustainable in multiple dimensions without profound technological, economic, social and political transformations. Properly understood, the sustainability agenda is about the fundamental, intergenerational task of winding down the dysfunctional economic and business models of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the evolution of new ones fit for human population headed towards nine billion people, living on a small planet already in ‘ecological overshoot’.”[1]

Our chances of success will be massively compromised, however, unless we work out how to tackle the most critical emerging demographic challenge for the developed the world, the ageing trend which some now call the ‘Silver Tsunami’. The sustainability agenda stresses intergenerational equity—and, alongside climate change, ageing is going to be one of the key flash points. Our challenge: to find the silver linings in this darkening cloud.

[1] The Transparent Economy: Six Tigers That Stalk the Global Recovery—and How to Tame Them, Volans for the Global Reporting Initiative, May 2010

John Elkington é chefe executivo da Volans e professor visitante da Universidade de Cranfield. Propagador do termo Sustentabilidade e criador da ideia do Tripé da Sustentabilidade.

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