Happy Holidays!

On behalf of all of us at the Berkeley Haas Center for Responsible Business (CRB), I wish you a peaceful and joyous holiday season.

As 2019 comes to a close, we reflect upon this past year and the close of the decade.  For me, the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg symbolizes 2019. The reality of our challenges are coming into mainstream focus as has the recognition for our collective inability to effectively address them at a systems level.  This is deeply discouraging. However, the 2018 photo below of Greta Thunberg gives me great hope. Then, she appears in isolation but today she is part of one of the most energetic and widespread movements of human history. Movements shape our world.

(photo credit Adam Johansson)

‘2020’ is a concept associated with vision.  In the year 2020, we must establish our vision for serious actions to take in the decade ahead.  The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) bring focus to the challenges we face and provide the world a common strategic framework.  SDG #13 is Climate Action. SDG #10 is Reduced Inequalities. SDG #12 is Responsible Consumption & Production.  These SDGs and their associated colorful logos travel the world and provide a common language.  

Since their launch in 2015, I am frankly shocked at how little attention the SDGs have drawn in a U.S. context when compared to the Nordic countries whose governments are establishing policy and companies are aligning strategy to support the SDGs.  Great steps are also being taken in continental Europe, Japan, and beyond. The University of California, Berkeley and Haas has an incredible opportunity to assume a leadership role to usher in the SDGs into the U.S. context. (And the UC-Berkeley Signature Initiatives map almost directly to the SDGs.)  As the world’s largest and most consuming economy, we must get the U.S. onboard.  

Movements need institutions to succeed.  The University of California, Berkeley can be such the institution to ensure the success of the SDGs.  As I offered in my recent congressional testimony, “The success of American capitalism in the 21st century will be measured against the Sustainable Development Goals.”  The CRB is committed to serve as a platform within the Haas and broader UC-Berkeley community to usher in attention and action against the SDGs.

I wish to highlight the importance of our company partners in our work:  Patagonia, Microsoft, Levi Strauss & Co., General Mills Natural & Organic Operating Unit, and Applegate.  And of course, our wonderful students. Our students are our heart and soul and are the reason we are here.  We are particularly grateful for our CRB Student Advisory Board and the collaborations we have with students and beyond through the Institute for Business & Social Impact.

With your support, we will continue to develop leaders who redefine business for a sustainable future.  We are building a movement – and you are very much part of it. Thank you for your continued support and my very best holiday wishes to you and yours.

Onward!!!

Robert Strand

CRB Executive Director

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