Tackling Global-Local Challenges in Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability

CRKC7025:

Tackling Global-Local Challenges in Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability

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Introduction

Collaborative partnerships help in solving challenges in ethics, responsibility, and sustainability. Corruption, lack of information about the importance of sustainability, and resistance to change are the key challenges that will be addressed after the residency learning. Personally, I will engage in influencing people to fight corruption, and sharing information on the importance of sustainability. Capitalizing in collaboration will ensure that the challenges are addressed. Individual attempts to address the challenges are usually ineffective. However, collaboration through the partnership will produce better solutions. The essay begins by describing ethics, responsibility, and sustainability, and identifying main challenges. It then discusses how partnerships help in solving the challenges and eventually reflects on how the experiential learning from the residency informed the practice. Capitalizing in collaboration is key to solving ethics, responsibility, and sustainability challenges in the community.

Key Definitions

Ethics in the simplest form refers to a system of moral principles. It is usually concerned about what is good for a society. Ethics how to affect how decisions are made and how people live. It is derived from ethos, a Greek word that means character, habit, or custom. It covers various dilemmas including the making of moral decisions, living a good life, and the right and responsibilities of people in society (Skripak, 2016, p59). Ethics involves thinking beyond ourselves. It is concerned with the interests of other people, and the society at large. It involves basing behaviors on integrity, equity, and honesty. The values indicate a concern for the society and commitment to promoting ethical behaviour. Responsibility refers to a state of being accountable or answerable for our actions. Being responsible means honouring commitments, being dependable, and keeping promises (Skripak, 2016, p59). It involves accepting the consequences of chosen actions. Responsibility is associated with elements such as courage, fairness, honesty, respect, and accountability. It involves having the will to include social and environmental considerations in decision making and being accountable for the effects of the decisions on society.

Sustainability refers to the practice of meeting present needs without compromising the capacity of the future generation of meeting their needs. The concept emerged as a result of concerns over the damage caused by activities seeking short-term gains. It involves issues such as sustainable consumption, use of resources, and the development of a sustainable economy and society (Gray & Stites, 2012, p10). It seeks to enhance the present and future potential of human beings in meeting their aspirations and needs. Sustainability encourages people to frame their decisions in terms of decades if not years instead of on the next quarter report. There are three components of sustainability. The economic component means to maintain the economic system which offers a quality standard of living for current and future generations (Gray & Stites, 2012, p17). Social component means maintaining the capacity of a community to nurture equality. Environmental component means maintaining the support system of life on earth.

While the three terms have different definitions they are interrelated. They all seek to link society, environment, and economy. The three terms focus on what is good for society. They seek to encourage society to adopt practices that are good and beneficial to the current generation as well as to the future generation. Responsibility and sustainability are especially closely-linked and sometimes are even used synonymously. The two seek to promote accountability of actions chosen on the community (Gray & Stites, 2012, p11). A close look at the terms indicates that they refer to a practice of being accountable for current decisions and effects they have on future generations.

Main challenges

            Ethical challenges

Corruption is the biggest ethical challenge. In several occasions, people have proposed bribes in exchange for some favours. Convincing these people to get rid of the unethical behaviour have become a challenge. After the residence course, the focus will be on fighting corruption in the local community. Overcoming corruption is the major challenge in society today (Skripak, 2016, p61). Corruption does not only take the faith of citizens in democracy but also weakens creativity and innovation. It wastes talents and scares away investments affecting the economic state of a community. It is a fact that corruption exists and continues to grow rapidly. From law enforcers demanding bride to roadside sellers’ inflation of prices irrationally. People continue to use public offices for their own advantage. Locals are forced to pay taxes with the hope of a greater future only for some local leaders to exploit the taxes (Wall & Luther, 2016, p3).

Some politicians make promises and when voted in, the poor living conditions remain. Whenever new policies are made they are to favour those in power while the poor remain helpless. Corruption has become part of daily lives in the community and people have chosen to ignore it. The problem is that even the bodies responsible for punishing corrupt people are themselves corrupt. Based on the Utilitarian ethical model, an action is good if its consequences are good. Corruption is thus bad because it seeks to only benefit a handful. We have a responsibility to adopt ethical practices in the community for all to benefit (Skripak, 2016, p65). I will therefore focus on influencing people to fight the vice.

            Responsibility and sustainability challenges

The second challenge in sustainability is a lack of information. Even when people live on earth and are influenced by it, lack of information keeps us at a distance with the world we live in. Even when this generation is considered the Information Age, it seems that the only information shared is about information technology. Information about local environments is lacking. Previous generations had a better understanding of the environment which the current generation lacks (Kanji & Agrawal, 2016, pp143). Sensitizing people about the need for sustainable development will create a demand for developments that are sensitive to the environment in the community.

With the information, the local people will take up the responsibility of ensuring that only best practices are adopted. Otherwise even when there is a controversy surrounding a certain project having adverse effects on the environment, it will rarely attract public attention. This happens because we only see the short-term benefits of the project rather than the long-term effects. The results are fulfilling present needs at the expense of the needs of the future generation (Kanji & Agrawal, 2016, pp143). However, by providing the community with proper information on the importance of sustainable practices, local solutions to the sustainability challenges will be proposed.

An additional challenge is a resistance to change. I find it hard to change the old habits of exploiting the resources. Even those who know the effects of resource exploitation find it difficult to be responsible for consumption. By introducing change management, it will be easier to adopt new habits of being accountable. According to the pyramid CSR model, apart from fulfilling economic responsibilities, people including firms have to fulfil other responsibilities such as legal, moral, and philanthropic responsibilities. Based on this model, it is important to promote practices that are harmless to the community. It requires operating within ethical boundaries (Kanji & Agrawal, 2016, pp143). This includes avoiding the exploitation of resources.

Partnerships in solving the challenges

Promoting ethical practice in society, sharing information on the importance of sustainability, and educating people on the importance of being responsible is not a simple task. It can take months if not years and still be ineffective. It is however a fact that the challenges need to be addressed to promote ethics, responsibility, and sustainability in the community. It is close to impossible for an individual person to address the issues effectively. Therefore partnerships with different organizations can lead to better solutions (Gray & Stites, 2012, p10). In this paper, partnering with leaders in the community, organizations including private ones, educational institutions, religion, local government, and individual people in the community have been identified as effective for addressing the challenges effectively.

Leaders

When it comes to corruption, it would be challenging to solve it effectively alone. It is through collaboration that better results can be achieved. Collaboration with the leadership of place will help in addressing the challenge. The leaders of place will come from various sectors including the government sector, non-government, and from churches. By working together across the boundaries, it will be possible to encourage ethical behaviours that promote the wellbeing of the community (University of Birmingham, 2011, p5). The leaders will help in co-ordinating actions across organizations and agencies in the community. By being in the forefront battling the ethical issues, the leaders will set the required tone. A tone that helps people in the community to understand the accepted conduct as well as those that are not acceptable.

By showing commitment to high ethical standards, leaders will help in creating an environment that is free from corruption. By engaging leaders in fighting the threat, it will be easier in convincing people in the community including organizations to adopt ethical practices (University of Birmingham, 2011, p5).  Leaders of place can also help in addressing the problem by supporting training programs that will sensitize people against corruption. The leaders can also participate in the activities. They will then serve as a reference point for the community on how to act ethically.

Organizations

When it comes to responsibility, businesses in the community should be ready to embrace change by being accountable for the actions and the effects their actions have on the community. By partnering with organizational leaders, it will be possible to understand the importance of responsibility. The organizations will learn in the progress their responsibility to various stakeholders while conducting their businesses in the community (Kelly, 2015). According to stakeholder theory, people or investors should start by looking in the world and identify people who will be affected by decisions. Various stakeholders such as workers, customers, suppliers, and people living around the community are affected by the actions of the organizations. It is thus the responsibility of these organizations to maximize profits and in this case profit is defined as human welfare.

By collaborating with the organizational leaders, we will learn with the shareholders of the importance of representing the interests of all stakeholders. We will inform shareholders that just as they spend time explaining how their plans will boost revenues, so should they spend time talking about their responsibility on the effects of their operations on the community. Additionally, the intersecting circles CSR model proposed by Schwartz and Carroll (2003), organizations have to prioritize fulfilment of economic, legal, and moral responsibilities (Kanji & Agrawal, 2016, pp143). They should not prioritize making of profits at the expense of the surrounding community.  Therefore collaborating with organizational leaders in the community will help understand the responsibilities that individuals have towards responsible actions. 

Educational organizations

Information is important is people are to promote sustainability. Without information, one would not be in a position to embrace ethical or sustainable practices. Without information, one would not understand the consequences of their actions. It is thus important that the information is shared. The collaboration will help equip the community with proper information on sustainability (Schmitz et al., 2010, p3). It is clear that the community requires to be educated on the importance of sustainability to promote it. Doing this alone would be quite ineffective. Some of the organizations such as those with educational backgrounds will help in educating the community. Others will provide the help needed by the institutions in teaching the concept (Schmitz et al., 2010, p3). Research shows that increased knowledge promotes sustainable practices.

An individual can be willing to educate the community about sustainability but fail to reach a bigger population. However, partnering with other institutions makes it easy to fund the training, to influence attitude towards sustainability, and to reach a wider area. The partnership will definitely have a greater impact. For instance, when an educational institution partners will the local community to create a program for a sustainable future, a long-lasting partnership is created (Gray & Stites, 2012, p10). This creates an opportunity for a valuable learning experience. Such relationships will help promote practices that would enhance the environment. With the help of educational institutions, the community will be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to promote sustainability (Gray & Stites, 2012, p10). The community will gain an understanding of the dependence between the environment and humans.

Religion

Apart from educational institutions, religious institutions will also be of great help in educating the community about sustainability. Normally, religious communities have a powerful authority in motivating change (Jenkins, 2008, p211). Religion is considered a great source of information in society.  Religious institutions often serve as a reference point to society. It would thus be easy to influence many people in the community to attend training about sustainability. The training can also be done in the religious centers. This will ensure that many people are reached. The community will also take the issue seriously compared to when religion is not involved (Jenkins, 2008, p211). For example, if religious leaders show the community that environment degradation is the alienation of human beings from other creations, a solution to heal the division can be created within religious institutions. This would eventually promote sustainability.

In various instances, religion has effectively participated in addressing ecological challenges. Religion has also been successful in other interventions such as operations against female genital mutilations, and in the promotion of environmental conservation. Therefore, by taking advantage of the power if religion in influencing the public, it would be easier to promote sustainability (Jenkins, 2008, p211). By spiritualizing sustainability, we can provoke reflection on most important beliefs, values and intimate habits. Eventually, people will seek to revive ancient values such as the need to respect the creation of God.

Additionally, religion helps in promoting the inclusion of various groups in the promotion of ethical practices since it has the power to mobilize many people in society. Collaboration with religion can also help fight corruption. It is generally agreed that ethics and religion are closely linked. Religion provides a system of values by which people should live. Partnering with it can therefore help in fighting corruption (Jenkins, 2008, p215). Since the heart of man is considered the root cause of the problem, religion can greatly help by transforming the hearts producing reformed hearts. By emphasizing religious beliefs, it would be easier to influence the intentional and unintentional making of ethical decisions.

Local government

Partnering with local governments will be of great help in addressing the challenges of ethics, responsibility, and sustainability. Local government has the authority and power to influence decisions that concern public life. Working together will thus help in creating a better community. Since sustainability is a global issue, solving it effectively would mean starting at the local level. The local government will help by developing policies that will protect life quality for future generations (ICMA, 2011). The government will provide support in sensitizing the local community on considering the effects of every project on the local environment, and economy.

The governance will be useful in strengthening the role of all groups in the society in promoting sustainability. It will help in developing a strategy that will be effective towards attaining sustainable development (ICMA, 2011). The local government can help fund programs that seek to educate the local community about sustainability. With the information, the local people will be supportive of sustainable projects and raise concerns when harmful practices are adopted. The government will also help in encouraging and enforcing ethical practices, responsibility, and sustainability among practices by individuals in the local community, and by organizations (ICMA, 2011). By developing goals, and specific plans, creating budgets, and creating committees to promote sustainability, the local government will help in the promotion of sustainable development.

Individuals

There are individuals in the community who are interested in sustainable development. Partnering with these people will help in learning more about sustainability. It will also help in sensitizing the rest on the importance of sustainable practices. Since local people know and understand other locals better, they have the power of influencing peoples’ behaviour (Schmitz et al., 2010, p3). Engaging in social work that model sustainability will also serve as a reference point for the community. During the social work, we will be able to provide people with information on the importance of being accountable for their actions. The community will then focus on the effects their actions have on their economy as well as on their environment. Partnering with the individuals will also make the work easier by reaching more people compared to when one is alone. This way, time and resources will be saved for other meaningful activities (Schmitz et al., 2010, p3). The biggest advantage though is that it will be easier to influence the community to adopt ethical practices, be responsible for their own actions, and promote sustainability.

Experiential learning

The residency experiential learning has expanded my understanding when it comes to the topic of ethics, responsibility, and sustainability (ERS). First it is clear that people are having challenges in promoting ERS from local to global level. This challenge is compromising the ability of future generations of fulfilling their needs. It is thus important that actions are taken to address the challenges. I have learnt that the global-local challenges need to be addressed from the local level towards the global level if they are to be solved effectively (Gray & Stites, 2012, p11). The key thing however is that addressing the issues effectively require collaboration. Every individual in society from children, youths, to adults, poor and rich have their role to play towards sustainability.

 Every organization and institution from political, educational, to religion must play their part for sustainable developments. This is the only way that the future generations will be able to fulfil their needs. Inclusive partnerships at the local, national, and regional level are necessary for successful sustainable development that will place both people and the environment at the center. Ethical and sustainability issues cannot be solved by an individual or by a government. It is only through collaboration that solutions can be produced. Lack of resources and even knowledge to unlock sustainability challenge individuals to be successful. However, unparalleled cooperation will help solve the challenge (Gray & Stites, 2012, p11). Additionally, the residency learning taught me that it is important to sensitize people on matters to do with ethics, responsibility, and sustainability. The sensitization plays a key role in promoting good practices in the society.

Conclusion

It is clear that capitalizing on collaboration helps to address challenges in ethics, responsibility, and sustainability. Corruption, lack of information about the importance of sustainability, and resistance to change are the main challenges that will be addressed after the residency learning. Addressing the challenges will help in improving the life quality in the local community. The challenges will be addressed by influencing people to fight corruption, and learning and educating people about the importance of sustainability. Sharing the information will sensitize people about the adoption of ethical practices that will promote their living standards and at the same time maintain the capacity of future generations to live a quality life. However, an individual cannot effectively address the challenges. Leaders, local government, religion, educational institutions, and individuals will work in collaboration to address the challenges.

References

Gray, B. & Stites, J. (2012). Sustainability through partnerships. Network for Business    Sustainability: Capitalizing on Collaboration, pp. 1-110.

ICMA (2011). Local Government Action to Promote Sustainability. Retrieved on November          11, 2018 from https://icma.org/articles/article/local-government-action-promote-            sustainability

Jenkins, W. (2008). Global ethics, Christian theology, and sustainability. Worldviews: Global    Religions, Culture, and Ecology, 12, pp.197–217.

Kanji, R. & Agrawal, R. (2016). Models of Corporate Social Responsibility: Comparison, Evolution and Convergence. IIM Kozhikode Society & Management Review, 5(2)       141–155.

Kelly, H. (2015). How businesses can take the lead on fighting corruption. World Economic Forum. Available at https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/06/how-businesses-can-     take-the-lead-on-fighting-corruption/

Schmitz, C., Stinson, C. & James, C. (2010). Community and Environmental Sustainability:            Collaboration and Interdisciplinary Education. Critical Social Work, 11, 3.

Skripak, S. (2016). Ethics and Social Responsibility. Pamplin College of Business and   Virginia Tech Libraries, pp. 1-31.

University of Birmingham (2011). Leadership of Place, pp.1-20.

Wall, M. & Luther, V. (2016). 8-Challenges Facing Community Leaders. Heartland Center        for Leadership Development, pp. 1-8.