Launched on 11th January, 2021 by HRH The Prince of Wales at the “One Planet” Summit in Paris, the seventeen page Terra Carta is a seminal document that has the potential to transform our approach to the Sustainability Challenge.
The Harmonious Entrepreneurship Society welcomes The Terra Carta and particularly its recognition of the need:-
• To harness the support of the private sector
• To reinvigorate innovation.
• For a “systems shift” that ensures the integrity of all ecosystems, treats them as one common system and addresses them simultaneously.
• To broaden the definition of Sustainability to include “nature, people, planet, equality and prosperity”.
• To “ensure a skilled workforce and a cadre of leaders that are prepared to participate in a fair, inclusive, just and equitable transition towards a sustainable future”.
• To acknowledge the importance of local- “local traditions, languages and cultures along with local products, jobs and sustainability”
As Schumpeter (1943), Drucker (1985) and others have recognised, innovation is the specific role of the entrepreneur – to create ‘new combinations’ that disturb the status quo and bring about change. Traditionally, however, entrepreneurship has focused on innovations that create wealth and jobs and has not necessarily brought about improvement in terms of nature, people or the planet. In response, new forms of entrepreneurship (e.g. eco, humane and social) have emerged to address these issues. While they have achieved much, they have been applied independently and, as Popper has recognised, “every solution of a problem raises new unsolved problems”. This results from the fact that the planet is an ecosystem and, in accordance with General Systems Theory, its various elements or sub-systems are interconnected, so that changing one element/sub-system has implications for all other connected elements. Hence recognition of the systemic nature of the problem in the Terra Carta is important.
The Harmonious Entrepreneurship Society (https://harmonious-entrepreneurship.org/), launched in Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 2020), is based on research by Kirby and El-Kaffass (forthcoming) which recognises the solution to the sustainability challenge needs to be systemic. They argue that if entrepreneurship is to have an impact it needs to integrate all four approaches (economic, eco, humane and social) rather than implement them separately as at present.
At the same time, it also recognises that, in the words of HRH the Prince of Wales, “the many environmental and social problems that now loom large on our horizon cannot be solved by carrying on with the very approach that has caused them” (HRH The Prince of Wales et. al., 2012). Hence it is proposing a new, integrated business model that does not focus solely on fiscal profitability, though it acknowledges its importance, but acknowledges the need identified in the Terra Carta to broaden the definition of Sustainability to include “nature, people, planet, equality and prosperity”, thereby creating the new model for business.
The need for a skilled workforce and cadre of leaders is why the Society is focusing its efforts on education, particularly the education of young people and potential entrepreneurs. It aims to equip them with the knowledge and skills to conceive, launch and grow a harmonious and sustainable enterprise. As noted by Wyness et. al., (2011) there is “scant evidence of coherent, embedded approaches to the teaching about and for sustainability” in entrepreneurship education (EE). Although progress is being made, rarely does “sustainability form the underpinning ethos of an EE programme”. If entrepreneurship is to impact on the sustainability challenge, this situation needs to change.
Finally, the Harmonious Entrepreneurship Society recognises, like the Terra Carta, that the global problems the planet is facing result from local actions. It contends that these require innovative, entrepreneurial solutions at the local level that may be scaled to address the global problem.
Let us work together entrepreneurially and in harmony to save the planet
Drucker, P. (1985). ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
HRH The Prince of Wales, Juniper, T., and Skelly, I. (2012). ‘Harmony: a new way of looking at our world’. London: Harper and Collins.
Kirby, D.A and El-Kaffass, I. (forthcoming). ‘Harmonious Entrepreneurship: a new way of looking at world sustainability problems’, The World Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development (accepted for publication 21st October 2020).
Schumpeter, J.A. (1943). ‘Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy’. London: Allen and Unwin.
Wyness, L., Jones, P., and Klapper, R.(2015). ‘Sustainability: What the Entrepreneurship Educators think’, Education + Training, 57(8/9), pp. 834-852.
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