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In a Vacuum of Political Leadership: Can Business Step Up?

By Shlomo Maital

   The Guardian carries an interesting interview with Paul Polman, Dutch CEO of Unilever, global food giant that employs 170,000 and has a market value of some 90 billion pounds sterling.

     He makes a point we have often stressed in this blog: Multiplying global challenges demand global coordination and policies, yet countries increasingly are looking inward, “America First” from Trump is not the only example.    

“Actually, that is one of the key issues in the world right now – the lack of global governance in a world that has become far more interdependent,” he says.

“Some countries have played their role historically, but seem to be falling back to their home base; others have not been able to step up to the plate, claiming developing market status. But increasingly the issues that we are facing – climate change, unemployment, social cohesion, food security – these are issues of global proportions. We are often trapped in short-termism … or other things.

“Many of the institutions that were designed have served us very well, but they were designed in 1948 at the time of Bretton Woods [the conference held in 1944]. It is not surprising that you have now got an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and other alternatives because the world has moved on.”

     I wish Polman would create a new “Bretton Woods” – a summit of top CEOs of the leading global companies. If politics is local, business is global. Why not then have global business rethink our policies and global infrastructure, and begin acting to implement them? These huge companies have enormous power, based on the electoral impact of their workers and the funds they donate to political parties.

 

 

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
July 2017
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