2011 is already shaping up as ‘the year when the people pushed back’. The Egypt uprising of 25 January set off a chain reaction in North Africa, with several decades-long dictatorships toppled in mere weeks. South Africans have reacted with uncharacteristic force against Shell’s proposition to explore for shale gas in the Karoo. On 13 April 2011 in Ficksburg, the footage of an unarmed Andries Tatane beaten and shot at by police during a service delivery protest, shocked the country.
Citizens, who have long made compromises in exchange for the financial and physical security promised by governments and corporations, are demanding that these organisations return to their fundamental purpose: serving the interests of society. The common thread in all the protests has been the use of the internet and social media to create social cohesion around the issues.
In a more connected world, where people share information and spur each other to action with increasing alacrity, it is essential to be part of the conversation. The lead feature in the fifth issue of the Sustainability Review, ‘Walking the talk’ (p.5), discusses the purpose and value of robust stakeholder dialogue.
In ‘Not a drop to drink?’ (p.13), SR looks at the growing risks associated with a common resource, essential to life: water. In our new feature, Sustainability Icon (p.11), Simon Susman shares with us his approach to leadership in the space. In our regular Sustainability Coverage Monitor (p.16), Trialogue’s partner Media Tenor considers how labour action and environmental pollution has impacted on companies’ reputations.
We hope that this, the fifth edition of the Sustainability Review, inspires you to keep your organisation committed to being a good corporate citizen. Business is embedded in society – you can be part of the solution.