On Friday May 27th, JESC hosted the Business and the Earth webinar, in the context of the Laudato Si’ Week. It was an opportunity to reflect on the role of business in society, and specifically in the ecological transition. Each of the four speakers provided rich insights, and together they offered a diverse and complementary vision of this topic.
Fr. Edmond Grace SJ gave a broad overview of the role of business in our society, challenging the notion that the sole purpose of business is to create profit. He remarked that businesses are more influential than the Church ever was, which is why the self-perception businesses have of themselves is crucial. He also called for a change in the way businesses generally view the world’s resources: these should no longer be seen as beasts of burden to be exploited without limits, rather they should be harnessed.
Josianne Gauthier, Secretary General of CIDSE, highlighted the importance of dialogue, for which listening and being open are essential preconditions. She warned that sometimes power imbalances or certain privileges create unbalanced situations in which dialogue becomes difficult. When referring to the current unhealthy relationship our society has with the Earth, she reminded us that we are all accomplices because we all consume and function within this system. The ecological transition is a challenge not only for businesses but for each one of us.
Enrique Meroño, Global Head of Quality and New Initiatives at Iberdrola, explained how Iberdrola decided to become part of the solution around the year 2000, and how it works not only in renewable energy production but also in energy efficiency as a way to reduce electricity consumption. In line with Josianne’s reference to dialogue, Enrique mentioned the need for a new language to enable different actors and sectors of the economy to understand each other and address systemic failures. He also stressed the importance of including externalities, such as environmental damage, in the real economy.
Lastly, Cédric Pacheco, Programme Manager of Finance and Capital Market Transformation at Laudes Foundation, explained how, based on its experience, Laudes Foundation reached the conclusion that engaging with business is necessary but not enough when addressing problems like climate change and social inequality. Why? Because the way businesses operate can be a consequence of the system they’re a part of. Therefore, a systemic approach is essential. Cédric then looked more closely at the work Laudes does regarding finance. He explained Laudes’ main areas of intervention, which include changing the way financial institutions function, supporting policy changes, and rethinking the economic system.
We are very grateful to our speakers for their time, commitment and enthusiasm, and to all the participants who were part of this fruitful dialogue.
You can watch the recording of the webinar on youtube: