Centriq - News & Views

Homo Homini Lupus

Or Why Sustainability Ought To Be in Focus For Any Business.

As we live in the Anthropocene, the Age of Humans, we face an Anthropocene Gap where society struggles to tackle current challenges. In his work"Global Environmental Governance, Technology and Politics: The Anthropocene Gap," Victor Galaz, Deputy Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at the University of Stockholm, asks what the institutional implications of such issues are and how institutions can collaborate in this complicated network of networks. Politics, technology and global environment are some of the main nodes in the book. The debate is open. 

"The Anthropocene Gap" reminds me of the evolution of self-perception through the ages. Before the establishment of textile fabrics in England around 1600, people's clothing was rough and uncomfortable. This limited the sense of oneself to only certain parts of their body - head, hands, or feet, those parts that were not covered by clothing. As technology progressed and life conditions improved, the perception of oneself evolved. This happened not only to the rich beneficiaries of the expensive silk imports but to all individuals that began to feel themselves as a whole. The transformation ended up only as recently as around 1900 with the way we perceive ourselves nowadays.

The same concept applies in the world and the transformations we currently go through. A primitive type of competition inhabits us despite the gradual refining of the perceptions and the capacity to contain ourselves. In fact, most of our tendencies come as the consequences of greed, for example, or of recklessness, of lack of perspectives or of future planning. On the one hand, we evolve; on the other hand, we go back to early stages. Homo homini lupus means Man is wolf for man. Man is dangerous to man. And now: Man is dangerous to Mankind.

To come back to Victor Galaz' book, the planetary boundaries debate he opens is even more acute, as with ChatGPT we seem to face, again, unknown limits of self-boundaries. Technology changed it all – we are all aware of it.

A shift in perceptions is urgent and we do not have 300 years. What we have is a bridging technology and a history of collaboration – in parallel to a history of conflict. It is up to us to choose.

When it comes to business, the key word of our times is #collaboration, which means dividing labor among all players and sharing results. Programs are available, platforms buzz with initiatives, people wish to be nice, though nice is not enough. We need to instill clarity in an era of uncertainty and we need collaboration. We need to understand that a business shall not function unless the consumer is happy with the way it answers responsibly to the current environmental, societal, and governance issues.

In fact, it is as simple as that: to have success in 2050, one must reduce carbon emissions, integrate new energy resources, and be aware of equality and inclusion at a personal and professional level.

So wolves can roam the forests, not the cities. Figuratively speaking, but not only.