Stepping Up in the Virus Crisis: Leaders in the Oil & Gas Sector

G&A Institute Team Note
We continue to bring you news of private (corporate and business), public and social sector developments as organizations in the three societal sectors adjust to the emergency. This is post #16 in the series, “Excellence in Corporate Citizenship on Display in the Coronavirus Crisis”.

13 April 2020    #WeRise2FightCOVID-19 “Corporate Purpose – Virus Crisis”

By Sarah El-Miligy – Sustainability Reporting Analyst-Intern, G&A Institute

The Oil and Gas Sector has already taken strong hits due to the OPEC+ conflict and the Saudi-Russian oil price war prior to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

The worldwide pandemic was the second hit this year that has dramatically affected the oil and gas industry, causing significant disruption with long-term harmful consequences.

According to the IEA, for the 1st time since 2009 the global demand for oil is expected to fall by 2.5 million barrels per day in the 1st quarter of 2020.

These negative consequences are expected to extend out to 2022.

However, the industry’s recovery given the amount of damage caused by the virus can’t be predicted at this stage, given the evolving nature of the coronavirus and the widespread impact on the global society.

The oil and gas industry has had to take a major step back — as have many different industries across the globe – due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Largest of the Oil & Gas Companies

The top industry players are found to be ready to fight back and help to mitigate the drastic effects of the pandemic and to support their communities through a strong global response.

Despite being financially-affected due to the decline in production, travel restrictions, drop in oil demand and lower oil prices resulting from the pandemic, many companies in the industry have contributed to the global efforts taken in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

For example, some by directing considerable amount of funds to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund as a part of their demonstration of social responsibility towards their employees, customers and the communities where they operate.

Looking at the top 10 O&G companies, some of them have invested in research and innovation, even shifting their production lines and putting their technical knowledge and financial resources in use in order to help fighting the battle against the virus. Other companies had a quick response and supplied key protection products used by the healthcare professionals.

On the internal front, the oil and gas companies have shown immediate responses to guarantee the safety of their employees and customers.

This begins with updating their health and safety protocols and constantly introducing new, up-to-date protection policies in order to ensure the safety of their dispersed staff.

Social distancing measures have been one of the premier precautionary actions adopted and stressed upon industry-wide.

In response to the many negative impacts of the pandemic, the major players in the oil and gas industry — such as BP, ExxonMobil, Total, Chevron — have demonstrated significant Corporate Citizenship practices while dealing with the current crisis at all levels.

I’ve compiled 10 corporate examples for you:

1- ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil Global Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

According to the company’s official website the efforts by the Oil & Gas giant in fighting COVID-19 include:

  • Supporting vulnerable communities, specially in the most infected countries through financial donations, subsidized fuel supply and providing other significant products required to address the COVID-19 challenges.
  • Investing in research and development, producing an innovative reusable personal protection equipment to the healthcare staff and other consumers.
  • Taking a number of measures to slow the spread of the virus in many European and Asian countries.
  • Directing operations to focus on manufacturing ingredients such as isopropyl alcohol, which is used in the production of hand sanitizers, alcohol wipes and disinfectant sprays.
  • Implementing health and safety precautionary actions in order to protect the employees such as applying restrictions on business travel, as well as applying working from home and social distancing policies.
  • In terms of customer safety, ExxonMobil has increased the safety and hygiene levels in all their stations and stores. As well as applying online payment where available in order to limit the money transactions.
  • Implementing a 14-day work-from-home policy for individuals traveling from locations with sustained community transmission, as defined by the U.S. NIH and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

West Texas Food Bank Initiative
ExxonMobil is supporting hunger relief in the Midland-Odessa area and across West Texas with a US$100,000 donation to the West Texas Food Bank to help those facing difficult economic circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporting Online Education
ExxonMobil supports Online Education with $100,000 funds for Carlsbad Municipal Schools in response to the distance-based education policies due to the coronavirus outbreak. 14 schools in the district have been closed affecting 7,000 students. This funding will support providing low-income students with the needed equipment and internet connectivity facilitating the transition to online learning.

The Global Center for Medical Innovation Partnership
ExxonMobil is aware of the scarcity of protective masks and responded by manufacturing reusable protective masks to help solve the problem, in collaboration with the Global Centre for Medical Innovation (GCMI).

The mask would use disposable cartridges containing filter fabrics and would withstand sterilization. Because of this, it would not need to be replaced. The company and center stated that the new mask design covered the mouth and nose even better than existing N95 masks.

Prototypes are currently being tested and reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

If/when approved, production will begin immediately, with ExxonMobil supporting the identification of manufacturers familiar with the materials and process to quickly deliver the masks to doctors, nurses and health care providers.

Once approved, manufacturers indicate they will be able to produce as many as 40,000 ready-to-use masks and filter cartridges per hour

Source

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2- BP

The Corporation Supporting Communities

  • The BP Foundation will donate $2 million USD to the WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to support medical professionals and patients worldwide by providing critical aid and supplies. The Solidarity Response Fund also helps track and understand the spread of the COVID-19 virus and supports efforts to develop tests, treatments, and ultimately, a vaccine.
  • In Brazil, BP is following a different approach, allocating their own resources (ethanol from sugarcane used normally in fuel) to use them as a disinfectant, not only for their employees use but also distributing it to local health services to help close to 1.4 million people in danger and risk of infection.
  • BP also started offering free fuel to emergency service vehicles in the United Kingdom, as well as supplying free fuel to jets that serve as air ambulances there, along with their continuous support to the efforts in Australia, Spain, Turkey and Poland to control the pandemic.
  • In the UK, emergency service vehicles can refuel for free at BP retail stations as well as supplying free fuel to air ambulances. In additional, supporting similar efforts in Spain, Turkey, Poland, and Australia.
  • And in Germany where they have provided fuel cards to health care workers.

BP Turkey will provide free fuel to ambulances operated by the Ministry of Health Istanbul Directorate to support the fight against COVID-19

Source https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/news-and-insights/covid-19-bp-response.html

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3- Total Group

France today is one of the most affected countries with high numbers of coronavirus cases, and the nation’s companies are responding to the pandemic spreading.

The French oil & gas player “Total Group” has been consulting with the French health authorities to supply the healthcare staff in France with gasoline vouchers worth up to 50 million Euros that can be used at Total stations across the country.

The company has provided the hospitals’ professionals with a telephone number and an email published on their website in order to receive their vouchers.

“In this period of crisis, Total’s teams remain mobilized to enable French people to make all their necessary travel arrangements. With its nationwide network, Total is working alongside those who are fighting the epidemic everywhere. Which is why the Group has decided to make this practical gesture of support for our hospital staff, who are working to ensure the health of patients.” –  Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of Total

Moreover, the Total Foundation will contribute €5 million to the Pasteur Institute and to hospital and health associations involved in the fight against COVID-19.

Source https://www.total.com

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4- Shell

Caring for the People

Shell is doing many things to keep their customers, colleagues and communities safe. These include carrying out enhanced cleaning operations, increasing stocks of sanitation products and other essential goods, social distancing, working from home policies and health monitoring for teams at retail sites

Caring for the community:

  • Shell has also increased the production of some of the key products which is used in manufacturing soaps and sanitizers in response to COVID-19
  • Shell Manufacturing plants in the Netherlands and Canada are diverting their resources to produce isopropyl alcohol (IPA) as fast as they can. IPA makes up about half the content of the hand-sanitizing liquids being used to keep the virus down around the world.
  • The Shell team is also working closely with governments to keep track of and help meet evolving needs. On March 20, Shell announced that it would make 2.5 million liters of IPA — roughly equivalent to an Olympic-sized swimming pool — available free of charge for the Dutch healthcare sector.

On March 31, the Government of Canada listed Shell Canada as one of the Canadian companies that has stepped up to help during this crisis. Shell is donating 125,000 litres of IPA to the Government of Canada free of charge over the next three months to help the Canadian healthcare sector.

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5- Chevron Corporation

US operator Chevron has also donated $7 million to food banks, education and health services, and is matching employee donations two-to-one, in an initiative to integrate their employees in the world goal in fighting the pandemic.  Actions:

  • $500,000 has been allocated to purchase the required equipment of online learning to the Donors Choose program, “Keep Kids Learning”.
  • Helping to fund emergency services in remote parts of Western Australia and providing medical supplies to hospitals in Thailand.
  • More than $2 million has been granted to the American relief efforts in several U.S./ states and an additional $2 million to match 2:1 employee contribution to U.S.-based nonprofits.

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6- Valero
In a similar effort, the large refining company Valero has elected to donate $1.8m to fight the virus in the cities where it operates.

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7- OMV

Austrian oil, gas and petrochemical company OMV is donating $1.09m of fuel cards to the Austrian Red Cross and Caritas Austria, a food and shelter charity.

OMV Chairman and CEO Rainer Seele said: “These aid workers accomplish great things. We are helping them get around, which is an essential factor in delivering provisions and support to people in need as well as emergency aid”.

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8- Sinopec

Sinopec Corp., China’s leading energy and chemical company, has shown support and solidarity to the international community by supplying 10,256 tones of “much-needed bleaching powder” to more than 10 affected countries including Italy, France, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam.

The company has allocated limited time in their Yanshan Factory in Beijing to manufacture fabrics that are put in use to make the N95 disposable masks.  They got this assembly line running in just 12 days in order to cover the shortage in fabrics required to manufacture these masks to help give back to the society.

Source http://www.sinopecgroup.com/group/en/Sinopecnews/20200327/news_20200327_696607861362.shtml

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9- Southern Company Gas

Atlanta-based Southern Company Gas and its subsidiaries have committed a total of $4.85 million in support of communities affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Southern Company Gas Charitable Foundation will award $2.5 million in support of several human services organizations — including Meals on Wheels, American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and United Way, in seven states,.

The Alabama Power Foundation and Georgia Power Foundation have each pledged $1 million and the Mississippi Power Foundation has pledged $350,000 to the effort.

Source https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=257009
https://scgcares.org/

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10- Sempra Energy

In San Diego, California, Sempra Energy Foundation has established a $1.75 million Nonprofit Hardship Fund to provide expedited grants ranging from $500 to $50,000 to small and midsize nonprofits serving the health, education, welfare, or social services in response to COVID-19 to the individuals and families in California, Texas, and Louisiana impacted by the coronavirus.

Source https://www.sempraenergyfoundation.org/pages/areas-of-giving/health-and-safety.shtml

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CONCLUSION

This COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented worldwide crisis that not only affecting the oil & gas industry but every industry and household around the globe. In response, many of the top oil and gas players concluded that to help overcome the affects of this horrific crisis they have to give back to their communities, employees and customers and unit to do their part in supporting and mitigating these negative effects of the pandemic.

REFERENCES

  1. https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/03/covid19-fear-oil-market-mideast-coronavirus.html
  2. https://www.offshore-technology.com/features/coronavirus-fight-charity-help-covid-19/

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About the Author
Sarah El-Miligy
is a Sustainability Reporting Analyst-Intern with G&A Institute. She was was graduated from the Faculty of Economic studies and Political science at Alexandria University, holding a bachelor degree in Political science and she is currently acting as a Teacher Assistant in scientific research methodologies and Diplomatic and Consular Relations in the political section department and a former international diplomacy coordinator with Ambassador Sameh Abu- El Enien – Deputy Foreign Minister and Director of the Egyptian Diplomatic Academy at Universidad Oberta de Cataluña.

Sarah El-Miligy is also a Sustainability Research Analyst in Egypt at DCarbon for Environmental and Sustainability Consultancy, the first and sole Certified Global Reporting Initiative Training Partner in Egypt and a member of the GRI Gold Community.

She has a broad experience in volunteering and working abroad with the European Union, United Nations and the League of Arab States — specifically in the fields of Sustainable Development, Climate Change, Peacebuilding and Women and Youth Empowerment.

G&A Institute Team Note
This is another in our series – “Excellence in Corporate Citizenship on Display in the Coronavirus:. We bring you news of private (corporate and business), public and social sector developments as organizations in the three societal sectors adjust to the emergency.

New items will be posted at the top of the blog post and the items posted today will move down the queue.

We created the tag “Corporate Purpose – Virus Crisis” for this continuing series – and the hashtag #WeRise2FightCOVID-19 for our Twitter posts. Do join the conversation and contribute your views and news.

Do send us news about your organization – info@ga-institute.com so we can share. Stay safe – be well — keep in touch!

Important Perspectives – 1995 – Sustainability in Focus

by Steve Viederman – Fellow, G&A Institute

Introduction by Hank Boerner

In 1995, Stephen Viederman, then President, of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, authored this thoughtful, forward-looking view of key stakeholders’ focus on sustainability and the quest for a more “sustainable world” — a topic of discussion that has grown in importance in recent years.. 

Steve Viederman is a respected pioneer and thought leader of the sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) movement.  We found his 1995 commentary compelling and certainly applicable today to the various public conversations going on about “sustainability.”

At the time of writing this article, Dr. Viederman was President of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation in Steve ViedermanNew York City. A historian by training, he has also held senior positions with the Population Council and the UN Population Fund.

Today, Steve is a Fellow of the G&A Institute and a valued advisor to our team.

Steve’s perspective on the importance of sustainability c 1995:

 

Knowledge for Sustainable Development: What do we need to know?A chapter from a “Sustainable World” By Stephen ViedermanOn January 17, 1994 a major earthquake rocked Los Angeles. That event, combined with chronic problems of water and air, underline the obvious: that Los Angeles presents a textbook example of technology and science winning out over common sense. This bears directly upon our concerns today: knowledge for sustainability.There are those who see sustainability as a problem of science. Harvard scholar and science statesman Harvey Brooks (1992) has written:“There is a need for a relatively value-neutral definition of sustainability that permits consensus among people with widely differing value perspectives and world views to agree on whether or not the objective criteria for sustainability have been met in any given development strategy or project, but without necessarily endorsing that strategy or project in terms of their value system. In other words, whether or not a given development path is sustainable should, in principle, be a scientific rather than a trans-scientific question . . .”Robert White, President of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, has similarly argued recently that scientists are more capable of creating “rational” public policy than the public-at-large (White 1993).Sustainability is not a technical problem to be solved or an “uncertain characteristic,” as suggested by David Munro in his [article in this volume]. Sustainability is a vision of the future that provides us with a road map and helps to focus our attention on a set of values and ethical and moral principles by which to guide our actions, as individuals, and in relation to the institutional structures with which we have contact—governmental and nongovernmental, work-related, and other.

  • I have argued elsewhere that sustainability is a community’s control of capital, in all of its forms—natural, human, human-created, social, and cultural—to ensure to the degree possible that present and future generations can attain a high degree of economic security and achieve democracy while maintaining the integrity of the ecological systems upon which all life and production depend (Viederman 1993).

We must begin by recognizing that many of the problems that we face today, as Barry Commoner observed many years ago, are not the result of incidental failures but of technological and scientific successes. Witness nuclear power and the problems of agriculture. The problems of environmental justice are also products of technological successes, without comparable social and moral development.

Witness Los Angeles

Science can describe, with different degrees of precision, what is, and to a lesser degree, can help us to assess what can be. Science cannot tell us what should be, and that is the key issue of sustainability. Science is a form of know-how: it is a means without consideration of ends. It underlines the differences between knowing how to do something, and knowing what to do.

Many have argued for new thinking about science at different times in this century. Albert Einstein observed that “we cannot solve the problems that we have created with the same thinking that created them.”

Economist John Maynard Keynes remarked that “the difficulty lies not in new ideas, but in escaping from old ones.”

And Friedrich Hayek, in his Nobel address, noted the irony that economists of his time were being called upon to solve the very problems which they had helped to create. Each of these observations should become an internal guide for each of us as we think about the role of knowledge in sustainability.

With this as introduction, let us return to the assigned question: “What do we need to know?” It may not come as a surprise to you by now that I think that is the wrong question on at least two counts.

First, the problem of sustainability is not a problem of lack of knowledge. Focusing on “need to know” as an issue assumes that lack of knowledge is the problem and suggests that there is a cure—namely, more and “adequate” knowledge.

But as David Orr (1991) has correctly observed, “As important as research is, the lack of it is not the limiting factor in the conservation of biodiversity.”

The problems of sustainability are primarily problems of power, on the one hand, and political will, on the other hand. Debates over international whaling and wetlands in the United States reflect this.

These issues, however, go beyond the purview of the task assigned to me, so I will focus more on my second concern, which relates to the nature of science and the limitations that are encountered in addressing issues of sustainability.

Sustainability confronts us with a situation where, as Funtowicz and Ravetz (1991) have observed, “facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent.” This is not a set of circumstances where conventional science excels, to say the least.

Investigator-initiated, peer-reviewed research, as suggested by the proponents of the U.S. National Institutes for the Environment, is not likely to be responsive to such circumstances.

The problems of sustainability are systemic in nature. In a system there are no byproducts, there are no side-effects, nor are there any externalities, all of which are rather products of too narrow a paradigm. In a system there are only effects and products. Conventional science reflects the narrower paradigm, however, and is, therefore, often ill-equipped to deal with issues of significance for sustainability. Again, investigator-initiated, peer-reviewed research is unlikely to deal effectively with the system issues.

What, then, do we need?

First, I think we need to restate the question to conform with one of the key principles of sustainability. This is the humility principle, which states that we should recognize the limitations of human knowledge. The question then becomes: What is our tolerance for ignorance and uncertainty in order to act in a timely fashion with the highest degree of certainty possible while avoiding harm and doing good in the short and long-term? That is what Ravetz (1986) has called “useable ignorance.”

Yes, there are immutable laws of nature. But despite the mythology of science, they are not always knowable to us, and most certainly not knowable—or rarely knowable—in the time frames necessary to right the wrongs of the past and prevent future harm. Yes, we humans are always dominating nature. We have no other choice, in many respects.

The issue is do we dominate in ways that destroy nature, such as is the case of conventional agriculture, or in ways that can contribute to sustainability, as organic and sustainable agriculture are assumed to do. Can we dominate without or at least while minimizing adverse repercussions? This brings us to another dimension of the knowledge base—economics, which is increasingly being recognized as part of the problem of sustainability.

There are no immutable laws of economics. Nor are there what Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson has called “inexorable economic forces.”

Economics and the economy are human constructs. The assumptions and assertions that are part of conventional economics are key issues that we need to address if we are to achieve sustainability. Among these are the mantra of growth; the assumption that rising tides raise all ships; that increasing national wealth effects distribution and equity within a country; that comparative advantage and specialization apply in an economy where capital is mobile; that the market can deal with all issues, including equity; and that competition is good and natural, in all cases.

The need for a new economics—an ecological economics—is clear.

Questions – What We Need to Ask

What then are some of the things that we might need to know to achieve sustainability, along the lines of the definition that I have offered above that includes economic security, democracy, and ecological integrity? This is clearly not a research agenda. Rather, my purpose is to suggest questions that I believe are quite different from those more normally asked.

  • How can we design an economy that honors economic security, democracy, and ecological integrity? What would an economy look like that goes beyond socialism and beyond capitalism?
  • What can be done, working with indigenous peoples to help them to preserve their lives and cultures, as well as their habitats?
  • Can we begin technology development and product design with the question of need foremost in our minds, rather than simply worrying about how to do it better and in a less damaging way, as important as that is? What is appropriate technology? Does “industrial ecology” really deal with the fundamental issues, or simply postpone the ultimate problem?
  • What are appropriate measures of work and wealth that value sustainability? Ponder for the moment that the word “asset” once connoted “having enough.” Can we move from “excessities” to necessities? How?
  • What determines the sustainability behavior of individuals and institutions, and how can it be encouraged? Finger (1993), for example, has completed empirical research in Switzerland that suggests that only environmental action, with values of equity and justice, lead to environmental behavior. Environmental experiences, linked to fear and anxiety and awareness about environmental problems do not appear to translate into environmentally responsible behavior. This runs counter to the usual suggestion that knowledge, values, and attitudes taken together create new behaviors.
  • How do we achieve a sustainable agriculture, one which includes sustainable communities? Is there such a thing as sustainable forestry? What are appropriate measures of production in agriculture and industry that reflect concern for sustainability? For example, why do we measure crop yields in terms of units of land, rather than in terms of, or in addition to, units of water used, land degraded, workers and consumers harmed, etc.?
  • How can we live in peace within and between families and communities and nations?

The Reversibility Principle

I would urge us all to add to the list, while recognizing that in many—in most cases—we sadly cannot wait for the answers. We must proceed with caution, respecting the two other principles of sustainability, beyond the humility principle already referred to. These are the precautionary principle: When in doubt (which, taken together with the humility principle, means most of the time) move slowly and think deeply; and, the reversibility principle: Do not make irreversible changes.

We must make clear our own values, assumptions, and assertions and demand the same of others, in terms of the problem definition, the scientist’s response, the methods and models used, and the policy climate. We must understand the politics of knowledge, and the political economy of science.

There are no knowledge products independent of institutional setting, financial support, scale, place, pace, and person. Fortunately, scientific bodies seem to be more accepting of this analysis now than has previously been the case, although the acceptance is far from universal.

Of particular importance is the recognition that much of the discussion of sustainability—all too often narrowly defined as ecological sustainability—has taken place in and is driven by northern elites. The South, no less interested in the concept of sustainability, has, however, spoken more of issues of poverty and inequity and justice. Only recently has there been a joining of the concerns.

But the northern paradigm of science still prevails. The prestige of southern institutions is still measured against a northern standard. Molecular biology is more highly valued than taxonomy as David Ehrenfeld (1989) has pointed out. As a result, what is taught, how it is taught, and what is researched all too often are designed to meet international standards rather than national needs.

Thirty years ago Ali Mazrui referred to African universities as multinational corporations rather than national institutions (Mazrui 1975). The same is still too often the case all over the South. I have serious doubts that this contributes to sustainability.

The northern tradition of science has generally failed to value indigenous and experiential knowledge. While this is changing among some groups of scientists, the change is slow.

Knowledge generation for sustainability also demands that we involve stakeholders in the process because sustainability is more than ecological or economic.

Sustainability is a statement of values

Sustainability  is a statement of values; in effect,  a vision of the future. Stakeholder involvement is also essential because, as I have noted earlier, “values are in dispute.” In a democracy, value dispute requires participation.

In speaking of science for sustainability, it is important to observe that the corporate world has been stating its support for environmentalism more and more frequently in terms of support for “good science” rather than emotion. I suggest that is a smokescreen for inaction.

The “good science” they want before they act—the exact answers to unanswerable questions—sounds good but is destructive. For example, the effects of the toxic soups that we are each exposed to by modern life cannot be assessed in a manner that reflects human variation.

We do need science and knowledge to address the realities of sustainability, but it will be a new science, an issue-driven science. It will not pretend to be either value-free or ethically neutral, although it will certainly need to remain objective and unbiased in its approaches and continue to be based on rigorous hypothesis testing.

The scientific enterprise in this new paradigm will have to accept the world as it is, rather than try to recreate it in ways that are more susceptible to its research needs. The circumstances that demand this new paradigm are worth repeating: “Facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent” (Funtowicz and Ravetz 1991).

As a result, the new paradigm will focus attention on the qualitative assessment of the quantitative data available, recognizing that uncertainty exists. It will also extend the peer community involved in assessment to all stakeholders, as the only way to arrive at decisions that are both scientifically sound and politically tenable.

An “issue-driven” science would, therefore, begin with a problem orientation that is non-disciplinary or trans-disciplinary, recognizing at the outset that it is fraught with uncertainties. This distinguishes it from curiosity-driven science, where the effort is to minimize uncertainties.

In this respect, the new paradigm is “post-normal,” to differentiate it from the scientific paradigm that is now considered “normal.” The characteristics of this new paradigm will include:

·         Pragmatism and plurality. Tools and conceptual frameworks will be appropriate to the solution of the problem, rather than being limited by the tools and conceptual frameworks of a particular discipline.

·         Acceptance of uncertainty as a given. It is acceptable to ask questions about the real world that at present we do not know how to answer.

·         A focus on data quality rather than data completeness.

·         Use of a systems approach that is comprehensive, holistic, global, long-term, and contextual.

·         Explicit concern for future generations, sustainability, and equity.

·         A concern for dynamics, non-equilibrium, heterogeneity, and discontinuity.

  • Expression of social points of view, as well as individualistic points of view.
  • Concern for the processes through which the behaviors of individuals and institutions change.

I would like to close with two observations. First, history teaches us that we should expect the unexpected. We should, therefore, study history as part of the knowledge base for sustainability, as a constant reminder of humans’ incapacity to manage the planet.

Second, knowledge is obviously better than ignorance. But wisdom is even better. We should proceed with caution and humility, and try to avoid doing something that cannot be undone.

Notes:  The preceding is a chapter from T. Trzyna, ed. A Sustainable World: Defining and Measuring Sustainable Development. Sacramento and London: California Institute of Public Affairs and Earthscan for IUCN, 1995. Copyright © 1995, IUCN – The World Conservation Union.

 References 

  • Brooks, H. 1992. The concepts of sustainable development and environmentally sound technology. ATAS Bulletin 1(7): 1924.
  • Ehrenfeld, D. 1989. Forgetting. Orion.
  • Finger, M. 1993. When knowledge is inaction: Exploring the relationships between environmental experience, learning, and behavior. Paper available from author [as of 6/2006 at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, www.epfl.ch].
  • Funtowicz, S., and J. Ravetz. 1991. A new scientific methodology for global environmental issues. In Ecological economics: The science and management of sustainability, ed. R. Costanza. Columbia University Press, New York.
  • Hayden, G. 1991. Institutional policy making. In Ecological economics: The science and management of sustainability, ed. R. Costanza. Columbia University Press, New York.
  • Mazrui, A. 1975. The African university as a multinational corporation. Harvard Educational Review 45(2): 191210.
  • Orr, D. 1991. Conservation Biology.
  • Ravetz, J. 1986. Useable knowledge, useable ignorance: Incomplete science with policy. In Sustainable development of the biosphere, ed. W. E. Clark and R. E. Munn. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Viederman, S. 1993. The economics and economy of sustainability: Five capitals and three pillars. Talk delivered to Delaware Estuary Program. Available from Noyes Foundation, New York.
  • White, R. 1993. Regulations shouldn’t be relics. Technology Review 96(4): 66.