We must move from egocentric to ecocentric leadership to safeguard our planet

leadership

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Shruthi Vijayakumar, Global Shaper, Auckland Hub & Robyn Seetal, Global Shaper, Calgary Hub,


  • Egocentric leadership is at the root of our environmental crisis.
  • We must change the way we understand and relate to the natural world.
  • To do so will involve cultivating an ecocentric – not egocentric – mindset.

Our planet is in trouble. Even after mobilizing billions of dollars to mitigate and respond to the damaging effects of climate change, we may only be addressing the symptoms of a much deeper-rooted issue. We have seen a significant rise in declarations of climate emergency, conferences, coalitions and innovations to address climate change – but we are also seeing an increasing gap between what is needed and what is actually being done to safeguard our planet. What is the underlying cause that we are failing to address?

 

Today’s dominant leadership is egocentric

We humans view ourselves as separate, dominant and superior to nature. We see nature as a commodity to buy, sell, extract and exploit for our own interests. For well over a century, academics, thought leaders and indigenous leaders have warned against the commodification and exploitation of nature, and yet this attitude persists. We have developed a dualistic view of our existence on this planet – one that blinds us to our interdependence and interconnectedness with nature, and which has also created enormous divides in our society and across humanity.

This same mindset underpins much of our approach to climate solutions today. For example, as businesses, we take care of the planet only when this results in short-term financial gains. We deploy new initiatives to save water or energy only if it also saves money. We shift toward more ethical products and suppliers because consumers are demanding it, or because we need enough resources to sustain our business in the long term – again, to protect our bottom line. Where there is no such need, we appear to be happy to exploit and waste, if this is what the balance sheet requires. This approach of acting only when it serves our own interest is not enough to safeguard our planet for generations to come.

So what is the solution?

Two ways of seeing ourselves in relation to the rest of the natural world
Two ways of seeing ourselves in relation to the rest of the natural world
Image: Social Gabe / Flickr

Our planet needs eco-centric leadership

The environmental crisis is in fact a deeper spiritual crisis. We must shift the way we view and relate to nature, and understand that it is a single living organism which is inextricably interconnected. We must adopt an ecocentric mindset whereby we are grateful to and revere nature, rather than consider ourselves superior to it. We must discard our transactional attitudes and cultivate a personal relationship with nature, recognizing that the health and prosperity of society and our economy is dependent on the natural world. This way of living is not new. It is found in many ancient philosophies, religions and indigenous cultures, which commonly propagate values of stewardship, non-violence, compassion and a deep respect for nature; the term Mother Nature didn’t come from nowhere.

For true stakeholder capitalism, we must embody these values and shift our focus from rights to responsibilities – from “What can nature do for me?” to “What can I do for nature?”. At a societal level, we must translate this into building a regenerative economy. It’s only with this mindset that we will be willing to take the actions necessary to prevent consequences such as further biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, unpredictable severe weather events, rising sea levels, epidemics and the displacement of millions of people.

How can we cultivate and implement an eco-centric mindset?

1) Build a relationship with nature

Spending time in nature, as well as expressing gratitude and practicing meditation, can support you in letting go of a transactional mindset and experiencing the interconnectedness humans have with the natural world and one another. Studies have found that time spent in nature is one of the best promoters of mental peace and wellbeing.

2) Walk the talk

Authenticity is key to being an ecocentric leader. It is critical that you lead by example and make changes in your own life, family and organization to be more sustainable and in tune with nature. Furthermore, the Global Shapers Community identified authenticity as one of the five most important values demanded by young people from our leaders today.

3) Give nature a voice in the decision-making process

In New Zealand, rivers such as the Whanganui have been given “personhood” and legally recognized as a living being, equal to humans. Taking this a step forward, some organizations and boards have brought people on to provide a “voice for the Earth” – similar to how the Welsh Assembly (Wales’ devalued government) has a Minister for Future Generations.

4) Bring nature into reporting and governance mechanisms

Organizations should integrate themselves with nature by accounting for their impacts and dependencies on nature. They should adopt an integrated thinking approach to shift from a performance mindset that serves shareholders to a value-creation lens that serves all stakeholders, using tools such as the integrated reporting framework and natural capital protocol.

B Corporations are one type of business who make it a fiduciary duty of directors and officers to serve all stakeholders through both the operations of the business as well as the impacts of the business model. Thousands of organizations such as Danone North America, Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s are certified B-Corporations, balancing profit with social and environmental considerations. At the recent COP25, 500 B-Corps committed to net zero emissions. All businesses should embrace such tools and make environmental impact a core consideration.

The 5 most important leadership values, according to attendees at the 9th Global Shapers Annual Summit.
The 5 most important leadership values, according to attendees at the 9th Global Shapers Annual Summit.
Image: Global Shapers Community

At the 2019 Global Shapers Summit, over 400 young leaders from 150 countries identified five core leadership values needed today. These include: empathy – being a servant to those you lead; courage – taking bold decisions; and accountability – striving for lasting impact. Now more than ever, our world needs leaders who are not egocentric – simply doing what is easy, following the status quo and acting to maintain their position of power. We need ecocentric leaders who truly embody empathy, walk the talk and demonstrate the courage needed to create a better world. Will you be one of them?

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Closing the gaps in accelerating women’s rights: the role of medical students

MEPs propose measures to combat mobbing and sexual harassment

Chinese economy to raise speed and help the world grow

A bad marriage can be as unhealthy as smoking and drinking

This company is combining video calls with pop-up clinics to help more people get the care they need

Fostering defence innovation through the European Defence Fund

Are we at the edge of anti-vaccination health crisis?

It’s Trump’s anti-globalization and inward-looking rhetoric that perturbs GOP and US

Fossil fuel support is rising again in a threat to climate change efforts

Plastic Oceans: MEPs back EU ban on polluting throwaway plastics by 2021

Ursula von der Leyen: ‘We must not hold onto yesterday’s economy as we rebuild’

NextGenerationEU: Questions and answers on the Recovery and Resilience Facility

How can you or your organization support the Hour of Pride initiative?

After the Italian ‘no’ and the Brexit, Germans must decide which Europe they want

How learning in a crisis can build more resilient leadership

Croatian Presidency priorities discussed in the European Parliament

How technology and play can power high-quality learning in schools

MEPs want ambitious funding for cross-border projects to connect people

Solitary Britain sides with US aggressing Russia and chooses hard Brexit

This New York store is selling Christmas presents for refugees

LGBTQI+ and medicine, in the Land of the Pure

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “European unity and cooperation is being called on question”, Vice President Joe Biden criticizes from Davos

How regenerative agroforestry could solve the climate crisis

Environment Committee MEPs vote to upgrade EU civil protection capacity

The refugee crisis brings to light EU’s most horrible flaws and nightmares

This is how to future-proof your company, according to McKinsey

Why precision medicine won’t transform healthcare – but governance could

Capital Markets Union: Commission reports on progress achieved ahead of European Council

Trump’s self-centered politics unravels

COP24: Huge untapped potential in greener construction, says UN environment agency

How LA plans to be 1.6°C cooler by 2050

AI looks set to disrupt the established world order. Here’s how

Coronavirus: Commission issues guidelines on testing

Guatemala: UN anti-corruption body will continue working, as Constitutional Court blocks Government expulsion

5 facts you should know about the world’s refugees

Press coverage of migration crisis in Europe: a call for collaborative action

New systemic approach needed to tackle global challenges

COVID-19 vaccines: MEPs call for more clarity and transparency

Terrorist content online: companies to be given just one hour to remove it

The next 48 hours may change the European Union

Summer 2018 Interim Economic Forecast: Resilient Growth amid increased uncertainty

Ramped-up emergency preparedness, part of ‘changing the DNA’ of the UN’s health agency

Pumping more money into banks but leaving them unregulated doesn’t help

David McAllister underlines the need for rapid progress in EU-UK negotiations

Next time you fly, could you be boarding a train instead of a plane?

4 crazy things that are happening in the Arctic right now

Commission caps charges on card and Internet payments and enforces competition

Germany is the world’s most innovative economy

UN condemns attack on Ebola treatment centre in DR Congo which left doctor dead, two others injured

SCADA Security Conference 2017 in Prague, Czech Republic

EU-Russia relations: the beginning of a warmer winter?

Western Sahara: a ‘peaceful solution’ to conflict is possible, says UN envoy

Costa Coffee products (Copyright: Costa Coffee; Source: Costa Coffee website, Press area)

The start of the “Caffeine rush”: Coca-Cola acquires Costa Coffee days after Nestlé-Starbucks deal

UN spotlights ‘explosive’ obesity rates, hunger in Latin America and Caribbean

Radioactive material ‘a magnet for groups with malicious intent’, warns UN nuclear watchdog chief

End ‘cycle of violence’ in Gaza, UN deputy chief tells forum on Palestine

Why collaboration will be key to creating the workforce of the future

Big oil’s climate pledges will fail without workforce equality

Coronavirus: the Commission mobilises all of its resources to protect lives and livelihoods

Banking on sustainability – what’s next?

More Stings?

Comments

  1. WELL ZERO EMISSIONS DON’T TRUST A MILK MARK THAT WASTE KINDA INDUSTRIAL PROCESS

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s