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New Research Network focuses on balance in response to environmental, social, political and financial crises

03 Sep 2013

BERN Launch

In the decade ahead, Australia and the world will face environmental, social and financial challenges of an unprecedented scale. There will be tensions between economic growth and environmental degradation, a need to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in response to climate change, and pressure to improve social inclusion and equity in a world of significant poverty and inequity. Businesses are clearly key players when it comes to meeting these challenges but can businesses look beyond their short-term bottom line and balance their economic needs with social and environmental priorities?

The University of Sydney Business School has now launched its Balanced Enterprise Research Network (BERN) in a search for insights into how business in particular, can better balance economic, environmental and social concerns while creating value for a wide range of stakeholders.

"New challenges are arising in terms of environmental degradation, climate change, poverty, social division and financial instability," said BERN Leader, Professor Christopher Wright. "Our task is to develop ways to both manage the risks presented by these issues and identify and promote solutions."

Speakers at the launch included Greg Bourne, Chair of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) company director Sam Mostyn and Dr. Matthew Bell, leader of climate change and sustainability services at Ernst & Young. Discussion focused on the role of business leadership across a range of sustainability issues. In particular, speakers and audience discussed the need for longer-term strategic thinking within business, the problems of valuing 'externalities' in business activities, and the challenges faced by sustainability professionals in justifying the creation of 'shared value'.

"Business School researchers in BERN are already undertaking innovative research into a range of sustainability issues," said Professor Wright. "Plans for future symposia and research include areas such as methodologies for measuring shared value creation, new developments in corporate social responsibility, indigenous communities and business sustainability, and the challenges for business of valuing nature and biodiversity."

Further information can be found on the Balanced Enterprise Research Network (BERN) site.