Learning from Glasgow COP26: Ethics and Data

| Tags: Business, Sustainability, Uncategorized, World

Ethics are on the agenda. COP26 demonstrates  the challenge of walking the talk that leaders face. It is easy to pledge and promise but less easy to guarantee. Ambiguities are all around and the fundamental question is who can be trusted. This is not the mass age where a good PR strategy could hide a million faults. This is an age of accountability, driven by social media use, young people and a flattening of the world.

Data and trust are critical. A session led by Al Gore focussed on the veracity of data. Good data well presented (as in his book “An Inconvenient Truth”) is at the heart of trust. Data is integral to markets, think horsepower, calories, clothing sizes, stock price, washing instructions, food labelling and so on. In sport it is made exciting, think Formula One and baseball. A key strategy in the sustainable age is to design trustworthy data and market it effectively, putting facts at the heart of claims and leading with an ethic of accountability through transparency.

Culture leads policy. It is easy to observe that policy makers are too slow and that politics can be messy and full of hubris. But COP26 is not just a negotiation, it is a global cultural event. Things are heading in the right direction, history is on the side of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Ordinary people know there needs to be change. The question now is HOW? Culture always leads policy and the cultural message is one of inclusion, sustainability and a huge inflection away from a world still in the shadow of colonialism to a sustainable world empowered by technology. Even The Pope agrees.

Those of us who craft strategic narratives for business need to upgrade our storytelling to make FACTS compelling, SUSTAINABILITY aspirational and offer a positive world view. After COP26 and when all is taken into account, this could be the start of a new sustainable age and COP26 will be viewed as an historic milestone.