Reading Monday’s International New York Times – almost never on the actual day of publication – is one of our guiltier pleasures here at Mediolana, and this week promised to be much like any other: the usual mix of comic strips, Corner Office and trying to wipe pasta sauce off the inside back pages without the former absorbing too much ink. But an advertisement in the education section brought a swift end to a relaxing lunch’s browsing: the 2015 Oslo Business for Peace Awards (‘OBPA’) will soon be upon us, and the nominations are gathering pace.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with the Oslo Business for Peace Awards – far from it. Its stated goal is ‘to inspire business leaders to be businessworthy; to have them apply their business energy with the purpose of creating economic value that also creates value for society.’ International business leaders identified by the International Chamber of Commerce (‘ICC’), the United Nations Development Program (‘UNDP’) and the UN Global Compact (‘UNGC’) in collaboration with the Business for Peace Foundation (‘BPF’) will be honoured accordingly on the first day of May 2015 in the lush capital of Norway.
So far, so wonderful. But after some reflection – and despite being a company which tries to integrate CSR into our core practices in some pretty deep ways – we at Mediolana admit to being slightly morose not at the prospect of the 2015 OBPA (which promises to be some occasion) but at the perspective, quite possibly a correct one, that commerce is the best vehicle for achieving global peace.
The task of achieving peace is surely the remit of politicians and diplomats. They are the ones with tools that even the largest global corporations can only dream of: consulates, armies and the powers of taxation. But as general distrust of and disillusionment with governments around the world – augmented by the (dis)information super-cycle of the Internet – is growing at record speed, global society as a whole is being forced to look in unlikely and illogical places for solutions to intractable problems.
Business for Peace – which only held its first awards ceremony in 2009 – is a fantastic concept which deserves worldwide recognition; the realm of commerce can and should do more to promote the goal of geopolitical tranquillity. But whether business should have to step into such a gaping breach is another question entirely.