Thursday April 14th, The Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo was host to the debate “Peace as a business idea”, the first event of the 2016 Oslo Business for Peace Summit.
– Although the theme of today might seem contradictory, it most certainly is not. It is representative of a global move towards a new way of conducting business, said moderator Christian Borch as a part of his opening statement.
The panel consisting of Nina Jensen (WWF), Jonas Gahr Støre (AP), Tore Lærdal (Lærdal Global Health) and Hanne Sofie Lindahl (Changemaker) was quick to add their perspectives on what this implies for the collaboration between business and society.
– As a family owned company with a long perspective, the mutual trust we have built with communities in which we operate over 50 years, has enabled us to build partnerships and make an impact, said Tore Lærdal.
He emphasised how fleeting ownership structures of publicly traded companies often interfered with business leaders having a more long-term and sustainable perspective of their business.
A returning topic of the discussion was how to facilitate a constructive collaboration between business and the societies and communities they are a part of.
– I am more optimistic now than ever before, said Nina Jensen. Business now can identify a profitable way of solving some of the urgent and developing issues that we as a society face, such as climate change. However, it’s naïve to believe that business will solve this themselves, in a vacuum, but rather in a collaboration with society through clear expectations and demands from political institutions.
But – business solutions to evolving problems cannot be politically decided, they need to grow forth through a myriad of failed attempts and budding initiatives.
– What country is in a better position to show the way towards a leading position in combining economic growth with the responsible stewardship of natural resources such as the ocean, asked Jonas Gahr Støre rhetorically. Following up – it will demand great effort from us, but we are in a special global position, with special responsibility.
How do we move forward to build impact? Can we identify a new kind of collaboration?
– Yes, said Gahr Støre, it is a necessity, but as politicians we must be aware not to micro-manage business in the direction that we see fit.
– Yes, said Jensen, citing the need for public action through grass roots movements. Through wide spread accessibility of new technologies, all of us have tremendous power to engage with our surroundings and communities – and with power comes great responsibility, she said.
Tore Lærdal, speaking as a 2016 Business for Peace Honouree, got final remarks, and used the opportunity to emphasise the need to strengthen the social contract between society and business.
– We must strengthen our global effort, through multinational institutions such as United Nations, if we are to achieve our mutual goals in the years to come, said Lærdal.
Business now can identify a profitable way of solving some of the urgent and developing issues that we as a society face, such as climate change
– Nina Jensen, Secretary General WWF Norway and member of the Business for Peace Board
We must strengthen our global effort, through multinational institutions such as United Nations, if we are to achieve our mutual goals in the years to come
– Tore Lærdal, co-owner and Chairman of the Board of Lærdal Medical and Business for Peace Honouree 2016