A Long Green View

medium_laurel2015.jpgThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

Taking the long view can be difficult in business, but it’s especially hard when it comes to sustainability. It’s tempting to look only at one’s own interests, especially for the small and medium sized businesses that make up the bulk of the graphics industry. Most of us are content to let the major blue chip companies take the wheel on environmental impact mitigation.

So it’s just as well that the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), a collection of five UN agencies and eleven countries, is working to support countries wanting to develop along green lines. PAGE assists with economic policies and building ecological foundations to help countries create income and jobs, and to grow. Last week PAGE held its second annual forum on the global green economy. Unsurprisingly the print sector barely got a look in, despite its credible sustainability credentials and its suitability for entrepreneurs.

The PAGE forum is intended to improve common understanding of the root causes of climate change, pollution and the exploitation of natural resources. The latter is rising around the world and despite efforts to arrest degradation, natural forests are still not being managed as they should be. Resource destruction has an unhappy yet predictable outcome, which is why the great and the good want to change expectations.

There were over 40 CEOs, plus UN agency representatives, NGOs, trades unions and a sprinkling of economists at the gathering in Berlin. Amongst the 300+ participants, the graphics sector was underrepresented, despite having a vested interest in moves that influence resource management and affect prices for consumables, such as energy and paper.

PAGE participants concluded that what’s needed is a green revolution, a movement to establish a new economic model based on sustainable policies, particularly in vulnerable geographies. Concern for climate change is the start, but PAGE wants to address the inequalities driving toxic politics undermining environmental sustainability. This is ambitious to say the least, but nothing will change unless governments and businesses work together. Getting people to adopt new behaviours to act in the interests of the planet may not be as hard as it appears, especially if money is involved.

Money alone isn’t the answer to any problem but it is a powerful motivator, encouraging new ideas and solutions to what might otherwise appear to be intractable problems. An additional €15 million was pledged to the multi-million dollar PAGE budget. It’s tempting to see all this as naive idealism and an expensive waste of taxpayer funds. But change only happens in pursuit of common interests, such as protecting our shared environment. PAGE is a forum to establish common interests and goals, but its members should offer practical environmental guidance for businesses and for specific industry sectors. Support for localised efforts to offer good practise environmental guidelines for industry is what’s needed.

– Laurel Brunner

This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Epson, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

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