The pressure to move forward with sustainability has become in the last few decades a key strategic goal also for government and international institutions, many of which have created strategic goals (MDGs and upcoming SDGs), principles (e.g. UNGC), guidelines (e.g. OECD) and standards (e.g. ISO, GRI) to focus the efforts and mobilize the energies towards critical innovation and transformational objectives. Whereas many of these initiatives have scored significant successes in obtaining commitment from national governments and the private sector to pursue this complex transformational change agenda, most of the consequent action has been focused on reputation enhancement and risk management initiatives, which have left the core business processes virtually unchanged in all but a handful of particularly sensitive multinational organizations, typically led by visionary leaders.
We are currently at the beginning of a new era in terms of sustainability. As the drafting of the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN is coming to an end, the challenges posed by the new targets are becoming increasingly clear in their magnitude and depth, compared to their predecessors, the MDGs. There is little doubt that the adoption by the international government community of the SDGs in September 2015, and the thorough engagement and consensus-building process that generated the content of the targets, will translate into a strong pressure for all the actors involved, to deploy massive behavioural change processes aimed at the realization of those targets by 2030.
The national and international government institutions, as well as the business community and the representatives of civil society are producing an unprecedented set of commitments to transformational change in the way they will govern, produce, innovate, invest, consume, collaborate and learn. Realizing these changes will be perhaps the largest and most complex collaborative enterprise that the world has ever seen so far.
GOLDEN proposes to tackle these challenges trough the creation of Sustainable Enterprise Model Innovation (SEMI) Labs, an approach to support and facilitate the experimentation of innovative models of the enterprise, capable to integrate the various dimensions of economic, social and environmental sustainability in a stakeholder-centered view of business activity. A SEMI Lab is designed in part for “virtual” or lab experimentation, and in part for “real” experimentation on the field, hence the acronym “semi”. It is in fact composed by several mechanisms for guided, controlled, experimentation, and provides a safe space for policy-makers, companies and stakeholders to experiment with change interventions aimed at creating sustainable business enterprises and eco-systems.
GOLDEN is actively working with the following partners to establish SEMI Labs both at a national policy level and a issue based level:
For more detailed information, please contact Nicoletta Ferro, GOLDEN Responsible for Institutional Cooperation.
FAQs for Institutions
We are at a critical turning point in our planetary evolution that presents both huge opportunities and challenges. The post 2015 development agenda set by the UN will be a stepping stone in this new evolutionary phase.
On the one hand, we can see potential dark futures if we do not resolve challenges associated with issues that business has a critical role in, such as climate change, environmental degradation, disease, war, poverty, inequality and global decision-making. On the other hand, we can see potential futures with business developing unparalleled opportunities for wealth, health, peace and prosperity. GOLDEN’s integrated activities can make a critical addition to strengthening the second scenario and to support policy and decision makers in fostering a more sustainable future for the whole community.
GOLDEN provides an academic researcher led, but stakeholder co-owned platform to galvanize and sustain informed internal, individual company action, and action with others to realize sustainable enterprise as the business norm. This means it must produce outcomes valued by all stakeholders:
GOLDEN honors the efforts of many who are working with missions of corporate sustainability. We believe that the focus on the how to develop sustainability, as well as its scale and academic roots make an important addition to the efforts of others. We work collaboratively with institutions and policy makers to identify ways we can support others to be even more successful in reaching their goals and those of GOLDEN at the same time.
GOLDEN’s developers believe that the time is right for this ambitious undertaking. This hypothesis arises from the following observations and beliefs:
(1) Networks of academics and their research centers partnering with businesses have been forming to address the sustainability imperative, recognizing that they are a source of the problem and must themselves be agents of developing the solution. These provide important building blocks for GOLDEN.
(2) To date, action has focused largely on becoming proactive in protecting reputation and other risks, and operational efficiencies with cost and materials reduction. Leading firms are now focusing more on innovation in products and services, and we foresee that the coming emphasis will be on innovation in the very way enterprises build and configure their social, financial, intellectual and cultural capital.
(3) GOLDEN has developed tools, methodologies, knowledge and skills to a point where it is ready to deploy them in various contexts in cooperation with companies and other institutions in mutually beneficial way.
(4) There is an increased level of appreciation of possibilities and the need for change by others (including ecosystem participants and funders) for innovative change strategies; and
(5) The needs for this scale of ambition and effort are recognized as pressing (evidenced by issues such as climate change, food security and financial crises).
The word “experiment” is used very differently by different people. For example, business people are undertaking innovative actions in novel situations that are popularly referred to as “experiments”. Scientists use the word to emphasize particular characteristics of their actions that include:
GOLDEN analytically, organizationally and strategically distinguishes between experiments at the individual, organizational and ecosystems levels. This reflects the understanding that transformation to sustainable enterprise requires change in:
The distinction also reflects the distinctive questions, methods and strategies that arise at each level. However, although the distinction between the three levels is important and operationally useful, in fact an experiment may well take place across more than one level. One common tool for doing this with experiments involves “control groups”, where one actor (person, organization, community) experiences an intervention and the other does not.