Introduction: Off to Montreux!

Hello, hello, hello!

My name is Stanley Li, and I am a student, a history lover, and the elusive 10th member of the Lancaster University group that is attending the 2017 World Business Council for Sustainable Development in Montreux. I am a second year student working towards obtaining a degree in Management and Information Technology.

Kicking things off, I just want to say how truly honored I am to be able to participate in this esteemed event. I want to take this time to thank all the sponsors who made this trip possible, The Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business for facilitating this trip, and Alison for all her work in the planning and coordination. I have never really blogged before so these posts will likely shift in tone as I get a firm grasp on things.

A little about me:

I remember the first time I was really introduced to sustainability was when I watched Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” with my parents. I was just a kid back then but I could sense the gravity of the situation and vowed to do my part to “save” the planet. I strived to use fewer resources and lower my family’s carbon footprint. Often times, to my mother’s dismay, I would over-enthusiastically go to extreme lengths to save water, such as not flushing the toilet in a particularly warm summer.  Looking back to my childhood, I am appreciative of my past naivety, as it has given me perspective on how everyone must chip in to make change happen.

The current me loves to look at things holistically and find realistic solutions to problems. When it comes to geopolitical problems, and even environmental problems, I believe that it is necessary to understand the history and events that tempered the dilemma to its current form. I think it is important, if given the time and resources, to obtain a complete grasp on a situation before one puts forward an attainable solution.

I am a supporter for sustainable development because its kind of the only way our future generations can enjoy the same beautiful planet that we all see everyday. However, I am a little wary of extreme solutions for sustainability that is difficult to implement.

For example, I recently watched a documentary that outlined the harm our generations of animal husbandry have been doing to the planet. It hinted that we could halt methane levels should we cease our practice of having meaty diets. I found this solution hard to accept because there was just no pragmatic method to implement it. It would be quite difficult to pry me from my morning bacon and I’m sure others would feel the same. To counter this problem, it might be better to look at the methods we use to raise our livestock, such as the dietary elements. We could also strive to change behaviorally, and perhaps cut down on the amount of meat we eat. Or it may be even better to further our advancements in the creation of synthetic meats, which I hear is all the craze these days.

My opinion on the WBCSD:
With the advent of social media came a wave of Internet activism: Passionate young people banding together to combat the tides of injustices. While a lot of people have claimed that these global platforms have improved transparency and gave more opportunities for the voices of the people to be heard, I would argue otherwise. I feel like Internet activism has really inundated the activism scene with too many causes to stand up for. Many outstanding problems are never brought to the limelight because of viral events such as Donald Trump’s election.

I am absolutely fascinated by the concept of a CEO run think-tank like entity that provides sustainable solutions to a membership body of companies. I currently believe that companies hold all the true power when it comes to affecting policy change. Corporation lobbyists dominate the political scene in democratic societies. If companies are willing to take the step forward when it comes to sustainability, they can have a massive impact on policy shifts.

I think an entity like the WBSCD has great power in our era as it could both push back white-noise and has the opportunity to influence government policy making and provide practical, sustainable options for its member companies.

I am a proud advocate for sustainability but the highlight of this trip for me will be to get a glimpse of how progressive decisions are achieved in a global, business setting. I hope to come out of this event more experienced, and more educated on the intricacies of international business. I’ll expand on some of these thoughts in my future blogs. For now, I look forward to working with everyone and meeting new people on this trip!

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