The Blue Economy founder explains ” A company that is polluting with mercury, and cuts pollution by 80 percent, is still polluting with mercury. You can’t say that because you’re doing less badly, you are therefore doing well!”
EMG spoke with Gunter Pauli – author, academic, business commentator and environmental entrepreneur, about the inherent challenges in his ongoing work of communicating the Blue Economy message to a sceptical business world, and how it is having an impact on some of the world’s most environmentally challenging industries, from fisheries and food production to energy generation and mining.
Do you think the media plays a role in increasing the awareness and demand from consumers for fewer lawyers and more action? What is the role that companies can play themselves and what is the role that the media in particular play?
Every outlet of communication -be it digital, print or broadcast- believes environmental issues are important, meaning they will always be on their agenda. That’s the good news. The bad news is they only tend to bring the bad news! There is much less focus on solutions. Once in a while something positive gets through, but generally we’re still bombarded by all the bad news! So we’re in desperate need of the media giving exposure to the solutions that are out there.
As just one example, when I made my one hundred cases available open source, no media organisation picked it up! Not one! One journalist eventually wrote one article about one case, but there was no systematic coverage by anyone. I talked with everyone from Reuters to CNN, but it was all too much good news! So we really need two things; one is media that is prepared to look at the good news about environmental solutions, and secondly, we have to be much more rigorous about presenting these solutions to them.
I’ll give you another example. A company that is polluting with mercury, and cuts pollution by 80 percent, is still polluting with mercury. You can’t say that because you’re doing less badly, you are therefore doing well! So we are giving value and rewards to companies who are doing less badly. That doesn’t make any sense!
We are permitting so much green washing when we are happy to see a partial solution that we don’t realize that we’re not promoting the real solutions. It’s like the whole crisis I went through when I realized in 1993 that I was destroying the rainforests in Indonesia while selling biodegradable soap in Europe! I had to wake up and see that what I thought was delivering a solution was actually destroying the rainforest! That is no solution!
I think we have to be more honest and rigorous with ourselves; the solutions we want have to be real solutions. You cannot create collateral damage elsewhere while solving a problem here.
Click here for more EMG and Gunter Pauli initiator of blue economy interview
Click to download the PDF complete interview EMG speaks with Gunter Pauli