Our present economic model, which could be described as 'take, make, dispose', has generated significant improvements in our standard of living, but is also harming us. According to the World Health Organisation, each year twenty times more people die of diseases linked to mismanagement of waste and pollutants than die from malaria.
It's very hard to wish you all a happy new year when so many are experiencing hardship. Whether you are trying to get muddy water out of what used to be your home, digging your children out of the rubble of an air strike in Syria, fighting forest fires in drought ridden Spain, or contemplating the failed COP 21 agreement, I am thinking of you.
I was told to bring gifts to my first Chinese business negotiation. Something British, and expensive. Arriving I indulged in the obligatory double-handed presentation of business cards and studiously examined my counterpart's credentials. 'Give him face' I was told. I was ebullient with esteem, commenting on the seniority of his position and the size of his office.
Carbon-sink building materials, bike helmets which ionise particulate matter, monitoring PM2.5 levels at building sites and major traffic junctions. All seeming technologies of the future but all offering potential solutions to London's worsening air problem. It's time we have that conversation, before it's too late.
Management accountants, with their role as business partners, are ideally equipped to navigate this arena, providing the relevant insight to manage the risks as well as innovations that come with ethical scenarios. And while the Volkswagen story unfolds before our eyes, seemingly with no end in sight, it serves as a timely reminder: ignore acting ethically at your own peril.
A better understanding about the shocking environmental implications of low-cost garment production may finally move customers to push companies into improving their ethics, pay and working conditions. That's because the environment directly affects the customer, and any children they have or intend to have.