The Seventh Generation Principle is based on an ancient Haudenosaunee (Iroquois)* philosophy that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future.
Think about that for a minute, if you were to consider how your actions today would impact the world 7 generations hence, how would that change what you do? Think about it.
Based on our current course and speed we actually don’t have 7 generations left. 7 decades, maybe, but with the current woolly goals of certain countries and many corporations who promise net zero emissions by 2050, with very little committed change today, or by 2025, or even by 2030, we will likely not might get past 7 decades to make it to the next century.
It is a crisis. And it is a crisis of our own making. And when I say our own making, I am talking about all of us.
As individuals or businesses, we have to consider what and how we consume and what and how we buy. How we use and dispose of what we buy and consume is important too, but that’s for another post. In business, the simplest thing we can change is what we consume and what we buy. Much of the climate crisis is a consequence of bad buying – or in business speak, poor procurement.
- Every piece of office furniture we buy,
- every mile we drive,
- every supply chain we extend,
- kettle we boil,
- bottle of water we drink,
- road we pave,
- building we construct,
- shower we take,
- meal we eat,
- item of clothing we wear,
- in fact anything we buy,
is a choice we make to use the planet’s scarce resources. As individuals how we buy matters, as companies or nations, how we procure matters too.
As individual consumers we have individual responsibility. As corporate or governmental buyers we have responsibility too. It is the same – just much greater impact.
In fact nothing bad happens to the planet until someone buys something.
I have the advantage, or disadvantage, of coming at this with the fresh perspective of a beginner’s mind. Over the last 30 years I have founded and run 5 global software companies. In blissful (or convenient) ignorance I travelled the world spending my above average carbon footprint – and now, a little enlightened with a scrap of knowledge I come to this situation with the passion of the recently converted.
I used to say that nothing happens until someone sells something … and then I figured out that actually nothing bad happens until buys something
Easy solution: Stop Consuming
If we stop consuming, then the planet will regenerate.
Of course, that is not totally practical, but we can at least reduce consumption, or consume responsibly.
In this context how we buy matters a lot.
In fact I have been in AI and digital transformation for many years and now with Future Planet I get to apply that experience and expertise to what is clearly the challenge of our generation. How to save the planet. The irony for me is that my last company had a software product that helped sales people sell to large corporations.
Procurement for me was an obstacle to overcome, a value detractor in the sales process, whose function seemed only to be to frustrate the sales person. I did not understand the value of procurement. Now I do and I understand the role procurement can play in saving the planet for the next seven generations.
As I said, nothing happens until someone buys something … but the marketing ofthe climate problem has not been great – people are confused. They struggle with understanding the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees of temperature increase.
The reality of course is that, apart from some of the fringe loonies, no one wants to kill the planet.
With a view to the seven generations principle, no one want to be part of the generation who signed the earths death warrant,
No one wants to be the architect of the apocalypse for their children or grandchildren.
While there are many great initiatives at individual, corporate and national levels, the majority of our audience are just uniformed.
Many look at the emissions data and say “well if China or the US would just get their house in order we’d be fine.” The truth of course is that we won’t be fine without a large degree of personal and corporate responsibility. And yes, national too.
The good news it that people want to change. They want to do good. I believe that people are fundamentally good. Most want to do the right thing. That ‘good’ however is also constrained by personal perspective and the inevitable selfishness that goes with it. People want to do the right thing if it’s not too hard, or even better if it is to their benefit.
That’s where education comes in.
There is a broad cohort of people who want to do better for the planet but in many cases they just don’t know how, they don’t know what to do every day to make a difference, for themselves, their companies or their countries.
Messaging matters – knowledge matters.
With my fellow travelers at Future Planet we are trying to develop a common language, a pragmatic methodology, around what good sustainability looks like for business who also have competing commercial needs. Better Buying (for the planet) does not need to mean more expensive; it just needs to mean better; better for people, better for the planet and better for profit too.
We are baking as much of the world’s sustainability knowledge and research as we can into an AI-based software infused with deep knowledge. And we are making it available in the cloud so it is easy for companies to implement and practical and pragmatic to engage all employees on the journey so that together we can be measured by results and environmental impact in a world where everyone is treated equally.
Ours is a simple mission: To guide sustainable growth for a better future planet. We will need your help.
“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation.” – Great Law of the Iroquois