Mitigation or Adaptation: what to do when nature hits back?

Prof Kirchgeorg discussed with PhD candidates of the doctoral program how companies have to change their actions and mindset to handle climate change.

Prof Manfred Kirchgeorg from the SVI-Endowed Chair of Marketing at the HHL Leipzig took part in a Jour Fixe of the doctoral program “Ethics and Responsible Leadership in Business”. In his presentation “Sustainability Marketing within a changing environment/system,“ he pointed out that sustainability became a research topic in the late Nineteen-Fifties, but the debate about green and sustainable marketing did not intensify until the Nineteen-Eighties. Faced with environmental pollution and damages, the recommendation of the Nineteen-Eighties was that companies should mitigate. According to Kirchgeorg, nature was seen as a “beauty” which should be protected. But nature was not seen as part of the economic system which focusses on resources, efficiency and profit maximation. This view has to change especially given the acceleration and increase of climate change. Nature hits back and drastically intervenes in the economic system. The “beauty” turns into a “beast”, mitigation does not suffice anymore, argued Kirchgeorg. Therefore, the new recommendation is: adaption. Prof Kirchgeorg argues that the idea of panarchy helps to understand this message. Panrachy means the harmonic and peaceful coexistence of different, but related systems. In the discussion, the doctoral students raised the questions whether it makes sense to see nature and economy as two systems, whether one should differentiate between different systems in the first place, how mitigation and adaptation relate to one another, how companies should adapt and who should start the change. Prof Kirchgeorg expounded that it plays a decisive role which concepts and mindsets management studies impart.