Niall O’Connor – We Need to Take a “Business as Unusual” Approach

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Nov 03, 2017
by Niall O’Connor
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Niall O’Connor – We Need to Take a “Business as Unusual” Approach

Director of Stockholm Environment Institute’s Asia Center lays out his vision for a clean and green Asia O'Connor says we need to link new evidence-based science, new and old technologies and new business models to support sustainable development

O’Connor will be a facilitator at the upcoming session in the series The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation. All participants were invited to share their own vision for “the Asia we want.”

“Clean, fresh air and clear, pure water; clean beaches and oceans; clean, green, quiet and sustainable cities, with open, transparent political systems that supports and works for a sustainable future, throughout Asia.” Not a lot to ask for! But a heck of a lot harder to work towards. This is the Asia I want, this is, in fact, the world I want.

Sadly, today we often see the direct opposites happening, with increased air and water pollution, in cities, rivers, and oceans leading to declining human health, food security and climate change. We see rapidly growing and crowded unhealthy cities, rapidly changing demographics, corrupt business and political regimes greedily securing the money to protect their future, while the rest remain under educated, underemployed and under-resourced. The rich continue to get richer, at the expense of the poor. Our degrading environment pushes us all further into pending disaster. But, we can still turn the corner!

The path to get us there will need to be based on a new “business as unusual” approach, where we will need to link new evidence-based science, new and old technologies and new business models, to support the global demand for sustainable development and the achievement of the universally accepted and supported Sustainable Development Goals.

We will need to clearly understand and ensure awareness of the impacts of our choices, now and for the future. We will need to ensure both civil society and the business community can work alongside governments to support and develop their nations, for their people. We will need to co-produce the policies, the best practices and future we want, aware of our ability and obligation to conserve for current and future generations, this only planet we have.

It will need to be a combined approach, networking all actors and stakeholders, within countries and across borders, to ensure the national and transboundary impacts of our lifestyles are understood, our cultures and heritage cherished and embraced by us all, to help us inspire future change towards this sustainable path.

Niall O'Connor became director of SEI’s Asia Centre in March 2016. He has a wealth of experience, having worked in NGOs, governments and academia.


Session 591 - The Asia We Want: Building Community Through Regional Cooperation I - A Clean and Green Asia- is the first session of a new multi-year series held in partnership with the Japan Foundation. For more information on the Session, please click here. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session on social media, follow #SGSasia.

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