When Green Isn't Green And The Issues With Sustainability

Was at the Future of Europe Summit 2008 in Andorra last week: http://www.europesummit.org/ – theme was sustainability and, despite a primarily political crowd there, I made sure that IT got plenty of airing. One of the key elements was in defining what is truly beneficial to the environment and what is simply, as the French say, ‘Greenwashing’. Apparently there was a study recently on French companies (undertaken by a journal) claiming to have green products and over 90% of them were found to be greenwashing – i.e. faking it basically.

One recurring theme, given the overall “the world is collapsing” feel of the summit, was – how can the government or EU help? When it comes to IT, I noted, that some government members still didn’t even know how to spell it (or IT) let alone provide some kind of aid. Even if they had done over the years, we’d probably find we’d be stuck with Token Ring networks and ICL mainframes.

One ever common issue was sustainability of companies through economic crises and one French guy made the point that finding funding for stage 2 – post seed-funding – is getting harder. Given that the theme of this discussion was partly about family-run businesses versus enterprise, I made the point that one common issue with sustainability – regardless of the state of the economy – is not getting funding to move (in my experiences) networking start-ups from stage 1 to stage 2, but in finding the expertise that takes what is essentially a family-run company and turning it into an enterprise. This view was agreed up on by all, but with no resolution. Instead, in true French style, it turned into an academic discussion of “what exactly is a ‘business familial’? Is a family-run business in its first year of operation really a family business, or just ‘a business’? Is it only in its second and third years that, if still family-run, it is actually a family business? Or is it only when that business is handed over to the next generation that it becomes a family business?

I left quietly to talk to a man about environmentally friendly ink…

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