#51 Celebrating Joint Alliances

Image of two people shaking hands

This Consequences Blog is stimulated by a couple of non-related, but in my mind, quite related events! Firstly, I refer to an article with a great title Celebrating the Ninja Economy! In much of my writing I am always keen to discuss the importance of economy being considered across the partners of the ecosystem thus being inclusive of economic, environmental and social. The article – celebrating the Ninja Economy – is making reference to the day this blog is written (7 July) which is the 2018 International Day of Cooperatives!

Most importantly, the day is listed under the theme of sustainable consumption and production. Let’s celebrate the importance of working together (or joint alliance which is my preferred term) and make sure we are commenting on joined up action that is good for the ecosystem. This is an amazing shift in the right direction especially for eradicating societal wicked issues.

Not only to sustainable development but if you think what the globe is trying to do in finding ways of running the international economy in a way that allows people to thrive rather than increasing things like poverty, we’re trying to work together against the widening the inequality gap.

Secondly, and commencing before the 7thJuly a very important commitment was taken by two of Australia’s biggest supermarkets – Coles and Woolworth. Beginning from 1 July 2018 both Coles and Woolworths supermarkets phased out single-use plastic bags at their checkouts. In both Queensland and Western Australia this action was extended to a ban for all retailers. The desired outcome for such actions is a reduction of pollution and impact from plastic. This includes a key focus on the kind of plastic material that is not biodegradable and instead ends up in landfill polluting the land or even worse having a negative impact on life and land.

Understanding how these large-scale actions – like banning the use of plastic bags – and the direct link to the effort of joint alliances is something worthy of further exploration. Although not a direct stimulus of the 2015 United Nations Global Goals – Sustainability Development Goals– the discussion of Climate Action (SDG 13 – Consequences Blog #33) Life Below Water (SDG 14 – Consequences Blog #32) Life on land (SDG 15- Consequences Blog #31) action around the consumption of plastics has heightened in the past three years. It could be argued that the action to do something about the use of plastics by Coles and Woolworths is more fuelled by competitive strategies.  For example, if Coles made the decision to reduce the use of plastics but Woolworths continued to promote the use of plastics bags it is possible a large percentage of the population may choose their shopping preference pending on their personal commitment to the climate, land or impact on the planet.

My point also highlights the changes in competition and delves deeper into the psyche and behaviour of both the businesses and consumer of the 21stcentury. Even if by default this joined up action, albeit across a very loose joint alliance (possibly as close the two supermarkets would ever choose to be) still demonstrates a significant step towards a plastic free future. This is the Ninja economy in action and provides much energy and excitement how competing sources can shift to collaborate for the betterment of the whole.

In expanding on the topic of the use of single-use plastics two articles speak of how Plastic-free campaigns don’t have to shock or shame. Shoppers are already on boardand how There are some single-use plastics we truly need. The rest we can live without. I find the sentiments of the two articles a form of celebrating joint alliances and are paving the way for future governance structures. For example, in the case of plastic bags there is no need for shock tactics to encourage changes – better still large-scale collaborative efforts.

“rather than try to scare or shame people into changing, it is more useful to create a positive buzz around change, make new behaviours easy to adopt and sustain, and foster supportive communities to help with change”

In some respects, this message of behaviour change must also be set within the realms of what single-use plastic is truly needed for. Future action must be collaborative, especially to avoid further contribution to the mass pollution issue that has in fact only really occurred in less than a century – the 20thcentury. Better to be proactive rather than reactive and in a joined-up way.   

We need to ensure that we have the right strategy to accommodate those who still depend on single-use plastics. This would include thinking seriously and developing single use products that have a reduced environmental impact and can be used in these application

This brings me back to the purpose of this Consequences Blog which recognises that important action can be taken when joint alliances shift from their competitive nature to collaborate for the betterment of the ecosystem. If such behaviour was to become the norm I begin to feel quite encouraged for the future. Traversing the 20thand 21stcentury calls on a different set of behaviours and within the realms of ‘nudge theory’ this means seeking the benefits. ‘Nudging’ is a phrase used in behaviour change where the action is made through encouragement rather than coercion. In an article How ‘nudge theory’ can help shops avoid a backlash over plastic bag bansthe argument is put forward how this responsibility extends beyond the behaviours of the organisations.

The recently announced plans by supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths to ban single-use plastic bags seem admirable enough but the environmental benefits will only be fully realised is the ban drives a permanent change in shoppers’ behaviour

You don’t get a better joint alliance call to action than organisation with organisation being inclusive of the civil society they serve! Navigating the business demands of the 21stcentury requires the ability to successfully achieve such a balance point (I refer to this as STRADDLE™). Most importantly recognising that changes are constant and future demands will benefit from a focus on the whole rather than singular. The singular approach is less contemporary and was very much the way the 20thcentury where the prevailing paradigms have been constructed.

In returning to the importance of 7 July and this International Day of Cooperatives I equally celebrate the major changes in the use of plastic bags. This is the way of the future and the early adopters are taking joined up action on topics that benefit the whole. Not removing competition completely but embracing a new form of competition that can STRADDLE™ collaboration is emerging. There is a very clear focus on again the key outcome and benefit being for the whole. To all the existing and emerging joint alliances taking such shape on this very special day and beyond I salute you!


United Nations https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300


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