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Interview with Peter Head, ARUP (3 min)

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Published on May 17, 2011

Interview with Peter Head, Consultant and Former Chairman of Global Planning, ARUP, on Earth Charter and sustainability (3 minute version)
Transcript: "In ARUP we believe in shaping a better world and I suppose the difficulty in ARUP is that we've got 10,000 people, all of whom will think that in a different way. All of companies probably don't call their value set ethical but they all have to make decisions about choices of business operations: which countries they are willing to work in, which type of sectors they are willing to work in, which clearly do have an ethical context to them. And therefore, I suspect that every company has a set of directions for the company which, in a sense, have ethical underpinnings. Companies that have very strong value sets that relate to the important issues of the day in relation to social justice, to resource efficiency, generally, the surveys indicate, tend to be more successful. And my view is that's partly because they're more focussed on what their clients are looking for and what the outcomes are needed out of their business, but they're also quite good at managing themselves to actually manage their way to achieve those outcomes. And they're quite good at relating value sets that they share with clients to their business. So, in other words, they're looking for business with clients who actually share the same value set. So I think there are a lot of reasons why success comes with these values.
The Earth Charter in a sense is, I think, a philosophy for success in a way. I sign up to it anyway in a sense I see it as being a successful way forward for the human race and therefore success means everything. It means that businesses can be more successful, that people can have a higher quality of life, and that we can have a more sustainable way of life. And therefore there are a lot of creative propositions that are therefore possible within that context because there's an awful lot of things wrong at the moment. There's now a 50% probability of human catastrophe around 2070/2080, caused by global warming, caused by a 3 or 4 degree rise in earth's temperature. Which the 50% probability relates to the possibility of reaching a trigger point where we get runaway climate change.
People naturally fear the future and I think one of the problems is that we're constantly given reasons to fear. There are solutions which the Earth Charter helps to sort of position for us which can enable us to live a much higher quality of life with less resources, and therefore we'll have more money for education and health. So, in that way, if you're creative, you can see lots of ways of doing well within the context of change.
The Earth Charter is a comprehensive strategy that covers all the social, economic and environmental issues but also it's very challenging in terms of living in harmony with the natural world and actually integrating our lives with the ecological systems on the planet within a concept of social justice. And I think, that is, for me, that pretty much makes it unique. I don't think there is anything else I have ever read that comprehensively addresses that and I do believe that that's the secret of success."

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