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Fulfilling Human Needs without Trashing Our Planet


【城市新闻】| City

By Peter Jiang, Chloe Chen in Shanghai, Jointing.Media 2010-02-10

Original in Chinese

Presentation from Cyrille Jegu in Shanghai

Source:SIP China

SIP China’s members attended the lecture on the night of February 1st. This session’s topic was “Social Entrepreneurship: ‘Fulfilling Human Needs without Trashing Our Planet’”

Cyrille Jegu, the speaker of this lecture, French citizen from Britain, is the Executive Director of TNS Asia, and the Ambassador of UK Energy Saving Trust. Cyrille holds an MBA from Macquarie University (Australia), and has completed post-graduate studies on Sustainable Development at Cambridge University (UK) and Blekinge Institute of Technology (Sweden).

Warmly welcomed by Jiawei Zhang, MC of this session, the lecture started at XIN DAN WEI. Cyrille went straight to the point and reminded us that we have only one earth and Sustainable Society is the only way for our civilization and species to survive. The participation of Social Enterprises is very important to build a Sustainable Society. Cyrille defined the Social Enterprise as a social mission-driven organization using market strategies. He acknowledged the necessity of generating profits, however, compared profits to enterprises with oxygen to the body: “Oxygen is necessary for existence, but should not be a purpose; .Oxygen should not be the reason of living.”

Although Social Enterprises are quite similar to Businesses, the purpose of Social Enterprises is to fulfill the human needs. Cyrille emphasized, “It’s not about having a car or a fridge. It is not what we need, instead what we want. It is a means to fulfill a need.” Social Enterprises have to fulfill their social mission within the environmental limits.

Cyrille explained that the earth is a closed system as far as matter is concerned. Nothing goes in and nothing goes out, and nothing disappears. Everything that we have ever had on this earth is still there but in a different form, increasingly in the form of waste and pollution. He also explained that the Earth is an open system for energy. There is enough energy from the Sun to fulfill all our energy needs but we need to learn to obtain it more efficiently.

Cyrille then showed us a variety of photos and data. One photo of beggars demonstrates that all problems are inter-related within our complex society and cannot be addressed separately, and Systematic thinking is required.

To solve the above problem, Cyrille introduced the BACKCASTING approach. It means planning with the future in mind as opposed to forecasting from the past. We can have more flexibility when making decisions in complex situations, especially when facing environmental challenges of tomorrow.

Cyrille emphasized the fact that “Sustainability is about leadership. The key question is whether enough leaders will emerge in time to change the world we are in today.”

Cyrille ended the speech by the conclusion that “A Social Enterprise should be a profitable enterprise with a social purpose, being operated within environmental limits.”

Edited by Fei Peng

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