Environment & Energy
How do you think more firms, including small and medium-sized enterprises, can engage with local, state, federal and international governance institutions to develop proactive environmental policies and guidelines?
That is a difficult question. I believe that for small or medium companies the lead probably has to come from a combination of legal requirements and societal pressure. The only other way is by having visionary management in these enterprises.
The understanding gap could go back to university education. If, for example, environmental aspects were included in all MBA programs, then future leaders would be more aware of the long-term potential risks of business activities. The Global Compact obviously has an important role to play. But not so many small and medium enterprises have committed to the Global Compact so far.
I personally believe that within our education system we need to encourage longer term thinking. Sustainability starts with finance — we know that if you are not making a profit you can’t have a business. But financial thinking isn’t enough – social and environmental aspects are also essential for long-term business success.
“Twenty-five years ago no one expected carbon dioxide emissions to become the issue that it is today. It was ozone layer problems that led to the Montréal protocol – at that time carbon dioxide was not a headline issue. So the question is what issues will be paramount in 25 years.”
How does Novartis track upcoming environmental management issues and challenges?
It is very important to be one step ahead. As I mentioned, the aquatic environment could be a future challenge regarding pharmaceuticals in the environment. Also nanotechnology is an important future area because nano science could be very helpful in drug delivery systems. But there are concerns about the toxicity and the persistence of the materials.
Twenty-five years ago no one expected carbon dioxide emissions to become the issue that it is today. It was ozone layer problems that led to the Montréal protocol – at that time carbon dioxide was not a headline issue. So the question is what issues will be paramount in 25 years. Hopefully not carbon dioxide – because in the meantime some form of leadership should emerge. Water scarcity may become the next major issue.
How do you envision evolution of the Global Compact’s environmental framework in the future?
The Global Compact Environmental Stewardship strategy will require companies to look again at how we manage all aspects of the environment including climate change, emissions and waste management, resource consumption, water conservation and biodiversity protection. This will be in our own worldwide operations and with suppliers and customers. To do this seriously will require much effort and teamwork across Novartis and other companies, but the reward is significant – an improved environment for future generations.