Sustainability Blog

Sustainability Blog

Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

Musings on Sustainable economy, Transparency & Individual privacy (part 2)

Category : General

Part 2 – Sustainable economy -What basis do we need for the right mixture?

For part 1 click here

Now, I am not a judicial or economics expert, but I do believe I am able to look at the bigger picture and see how things are related and impact each other, as long as I try to stay informed, get the gist of things and keep an open mind to new insights.

I’m not saying we should abandon the idea of a ‘free market’ altogether, but I am saying some basics ‘rules of play’ need to be changed. As mentioned in my previous blog (part 1), we have forgotten some crucial elements in the equation. It has shown us that this will result in too many negative externalities that are destructive to the health and balance of society (our planet and all its living elements including ourselves) as a whole.

We already have a good idea of what possible solutions and/ or improvements are, but achieving them is not an easy feat and cannot be done all at once. For a start it would require working towards full transparency regarding a set of specific agreed upon aspects in order to prevent or diminish the impact of negative externalities. Transparency about what is used (from resources to marketing and lobbying) and what happens in the chains of production, followed by transparency of what comes out and what happens with it next provides us with a solid basis to act. Acting on it is ultimately the driving force of its success. Laws and regulations set around it allow us to act more decisively if they are violated and transparency helps us to do this more efficiently and effectively. Even though the current system already provides us with some laws and regulations, we have seen too many examples that, if we don’t act on them and set clear boundaries, the ‘self-regulation’ abilities of industries do not suffice and some will try to continue to undermine the effectiveness of laws and regulations (be it openly or below the radar).

This would mean, and I know some would have an immediate allergic reaction to this, having to govern this somehow to ensure all are playing by the rules of fair-play. More regulations, inter- & intra company checks and audits, possibly more government interference. Shock! Oh, the horror! But is it really? It happens already, just not for these specific purposes. Think of laws that have been put into effect to try and counter terrorism – be it cyber or real life – copyright infringement laws, setting up information databases etc.

Regardless of your opinion of them, the point here is, to be able to effectively achieve this transparency requires a huge amount of data gathering, monitoring, governing and acting on it and this is not something entirely new.

Our colleagues at Google, Facebook, Apple etc. already have experience in what it’s like to tackle large amounts of data. Cue the Big Data challenge. With this in mind I realized that this data gathering for transparency could possibly involve some of what my activities are (as a citizen, employee and consumer) within the economic system in relation to the aspects we have agreed to monitor.

So, I asked myself if I believe it is possible to achieve said transparency while still retaining my right to individual privacy. And since I’m almost as passionate about this freedom as I am about sustainability, would this mean I would have to give (most of) it up for the greater good of a true sustainable economy? What do you think?

Continued in part 3 here (final part)...

About the author

Esther van Bergen
Esther van Bergen
As IT Sustainability Strategy consultant Esther is currently a coordinator for Capgemini’s Green IT services and a core member of Capgemini’s Global Sustainability Network. She actively pursues cross-expertise collaboration and coordinates the Green IT Community of Practice (a variety of activities). In her roles Esther always considers the detail vs. the bigger picture and enjoys playing ‘devils advocate’ where needed. She believes communication is the make or break factor for success in IT, business and life in general. Her background and experience in Communications, Process Improvement, (IT) Governance and her broad and holistic understanding of sustainability is of added value to anything she undertakes. Esther has a clear vision about the role of sustainability, both now and in the future (such as use of technology in transformation to a Circular Economy and closed-loop processes, conservation efforts, Smart City concepts etc.). She is particularly enjoys working on strategic and innovative ideas that bring together people, process and technology to help realize tangible results for the both the organization, community and the environment (Triple Bottom Line).

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