The Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership launches yet another programme

Posted on July 05, 2012

The launch took place on 26 June 2012 on UP’s Hatfield Campus and was attended by staff members of the University, experts from Exxaro and the Civil Society as well as other academics in the business and biodiversity fraternity. Prof Derick de Jongh, Director of the ALCRL, welcomed the guests and Prof Niek Schoeman, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, delivered an opening remark. The Programme Director of Exxaro, Dr Claudious Chikozho, outlined the focus of the programme while Mr Koos Smit from Exxaro presented Exxaro’s objectives for funding the programme.

Mounting evidence from various parts of the world shows that many businesses negatively impact on well-functioning ecosystems and biodiversity, although they depend on it. Therefore, the constant decline currently witnessed in the world’s ecosystems and biodiversity pose significant challenges to business, public policy and the society at large.

Traditionally, the business sector has prioritised profit margins at the expense of biodiversity conservation. With new thinking and advice on the right conditions, businesses can actually function profitably and in harmony with nature. The challenge is how to achieve it and this programme seeks answers to the question.

The main aim of the programme is, after three years of implementation, to see collective leadership and responsibility applied and enhanced in biodiversity conservation and sustainability in South Africa. Another aim is to profile the programme as an example of a successful and sustainable partnership between science and business sectors in South Africa with great potential for replication.

The programme has an interdisciplinary research and collaboration role and increases the knowledge on business and biodiversity. It also seeks to establish relevant education programmes at the University of Pretoria through short courses for national level actors and supervising postgraduate students on master’s and doctoral levels. Through strategic advocacy initiatives, the implementation of the programme will facilitate mainstreaming of the knowledge generated into the public policy and business domains in order to enhance the impetus for change.

The golden thread running through the programme is that businesses and biodiversity are not necessarily the strangers that they have traditionally been considered to be. Nowadays, they have to be viewed as two systems that can co-exist in harmony if the right conditions are provided. It is predicted that within two decades from now, businesses are likely to be more disappointed by the things that they didn't do than by what they did. Through this programme, all players are urged to take action now, to research and identify workable solutions and to act responsibly.

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