Peter McManners

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Private Sector Resilience

Photo Peter McMannersPeter Mcmanners, who is a member of the HERG Resilience Research Cluster, presented a seminar to geography students on private sector resilience. He outlined the significance of sustainability in the context of a business response. The underlying rationale for the private sector to engage with sustainability was explained. He also pointed out the limitations on business to apply their capabilities to fashion significant change to the way they operate. Business is constrained by investors with short time horizons and an overall expectation placed on business to focus on bottom-line performance. Many of the changes required in society and the economy, to deliver sustainability and resilience, have the characteristics of long-term systemic change. This is something we are not very good at. The culture of short-term results is not conducive to the long-term strategic planning required to deliver a resilient economy alongside a sustainable society.

Current research into sustainability in aviation was used to discuss private sector resilience within a particular case study. This exposed a policy stalemate where the aviation industry is held back and unable to advance towards a low emissions future. There is the potential for a bright future for aviation but it requires radical change. In a global highly regulated industry with substantial sunk costs there is little appetite for transformational change. Current research into a new model for aviation was outlined and discussed with different passenger segments based on the premise that flying slower could be the catalyst to develop a new generation of low-carbon air vehicle.

Finally, the seminar returned to the big picture of the global economy and an examination of the macroeconomic policy which sets the context within which business operates. Discussion was around whether economic globalisation will continue of whether the imperative of resilience will be the driver towards a more proximized economy. The seminar did not arrive at a definitive conclusion but raised the possibility of a transformation in macroeconomics to provide business with a different macroeconomic framework within which to operate.  As sustainability and resilience rise up the policy agenda, we are likely to see much more consideration of transformational change as policy makers accept that the current state of affairs cannot continue indefinitely. If the private sector is to play an active role in such a transformation, it will have to be part of a wider initiative orchestrated by politicians and policy makers.

The seminar was a thought provoking session which produced lively discussion and debate.

For further information: McManners, P. (2014) ‘Reframing economic policy towards sustainability’, Int. J. Green Economics, Vol. 8, Nos. 3/4, pp.288–305.

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Peter McManners low resDoctoral researcher Peter McManners has had his paper ‘Reframing Economic Policy Towards Sustainability’ published in the International Journal of Green Economics. This reports conceptual research at the interface between macroeconomic and environmental policy, applying the concepts of sustainability and resilience. A key observation is that the dialogue about sustainability over recent decades has failed to reduce the threat that human activities pose to the global ecosystem.

Peter proposes that the time has come to question deep-rooted assumptions, including the role of economics. In this paper, priorities are re-examined and principles developed to be able to build a sustainable economy. It is argued that sustainability economics is subservient to society’s higher objectives and is about control and balance, rather than laissez-faire free markets. A new definition and conceptual model for sustainability is proposed that is closer to reality than the traditional models having cornerstones of ‘culture’, ‘land’, ‘population’ and ‘energy’. Using this model allows economic policy to be repositioned in support of the needs of society and compliant with effective stewardship of the ecosystem to deliver a resilient economy operating within planetary limits.

Peter McManners is a doctoral researcher in his third year supervised by Emily Boyd and Steve Musson.

McManners, P.J. (2014) Reframing Economic Policy Towards Sustainability, International Journal of Green Economics, Vol. 8, Nos. 3/4, pp 288-305.

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