Sofies’ 10 years testimony 10/10: Suren Erkman

11 October 2018

During its first ten years, SOFIES has shared a wonderful human and professional adventure with its many partners . This adventure is far from over. It is actually only beginning, given the scale of the challenge: to contribute to the evolution of the economic system, both at the local and global levels, to make it compatible with the sustainable functioning of the biosphere, and thus conducive to the pursuit of human development on Earth (and perhaps beyond…).

Nevertheless, as sustainable development spreads and mainstreams, particularly with the global process of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the pioneering period is gradually coming to an end. This results in new opportunities and challenges for all the actors involved in sustainable development, to which SOFIES intends to contribute in the coming years.

The example of the circular economy is a great illustration of this development. Circular economy today embodies a very inspiring narrative, capable of mobilizing many economic and political actors. However, this metaphor of the circle should not be taken literally, despite its evocative and aesthetic power. Because the laws of physics remain, in particular the implacable second law of thermodynamics (entropy), which makes it impossible for industrial processes (in this case recycling) to be totally efficient.

Of course, it is possible, and even essential and urgent, to move towards a “nearly circular” economy, a socio-economic system that is much more pragmatic and intelligent in its use of resources than it is today. Without losing sight, of course, of the fact that the “circular” use of resources is a necessity but not a sufficient component of a sustainable and inclusive economy, in parallel with the reduction of toxicity, dematerialization, decarbonization, economic viability and social equity.

The concrete implementation of this process on a large scale requires more than just seductive metaphors. The metamorphosis of the economic system requires many specialized and specific skills (impact analysis methodologies, resource optimization strategies, new business models, etc.). These skills, which SOFIES integrates into complex projects, are more than ever necessary to support the various social, economic and political actors in the implementation of sustainable development.

It is in this spirit that SOFIES intends to continue the adventure in the coming years, in close collaboration with its customers and partners.

Dr. Suren Erkman, Chairman of the Board, Sofies International

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