Sustainability, Daily Life and Care

Sustainability, Daily Life and Care, may seem unrelated terms. However, if we look closer and open the spectrum, the relationships between them start to become apparent.

INALDE Business School, in collaboration with the School of Psychology at the University of La Sabana under the inspiration of Home Renaissance Foundation, created the Latin American Congress on Sustainability, Care and Daily Life, a platform for interdisciplinary dialogue between academics, professionals, entrepreneurs, consultants, and anyone interested in thinking about these issues and their linkages. This congress sought to answer the questions raised above from existing academic work and research at companies and organisations.

On 11th and 12th October 2011 researchers and practitioners from eight Latin American countries met to exchange views, research reports, goals and practices. The Congress was opened by the Rector of the University of La Sabana, explaining precisely how overcoming the crisis of the last flood on campus brought a positive response from those who integrate the organisation and its environment, evidencing how important it is for the institution to care for people and how it maintains this as a vital criteria for decision making.

In her lecture The Revolution of Care: a proposal for sustainable development, Dr. Maria Pia Chirinos, a professor at the University of Piura, the University of the Holy Cross, and a Visiting Scholar at Notre Dame Centre for Ethics and Care, and in line with thinkers like Amartya Sen, Arlie Hochschild and Benedict XVI, proposed a shift that allows the economy to focus on the development of the human capacities of each person, recognising that Care meets human needs and that economic models recognise that value; in politics, that laws protect and foster the work in care, paid and unpaid work, as really necessary work; and in culture, to break down elitist visions and to reward and “honour the work of social care” as proposed by Hochschild.

Dr. Jonathan Tudge, professor at the University of North Carolina, witnessed through his research in different cultures: European, African and Latin American how daily life and care practices have a direct impact on development. This impact is both on children and their development of skills and on adults affecting the level of their contribution to the development of the societies to which they belong.

The levels of poverty, health and development of a society are affected by the family structures and dynamics that take place in the households, says Dr. Sophia Aguirre, professor of the Catholic University of America. When analysing the family structure and other characteristics of households and its impact on savings, wealth and poverty, one discovers that the structure of the family, the area in which the family lives, the gender of the family-head, the level of education, interpersonal relationships that develop, all reveal important and determinant elements. Through macroeconomic models, it can be established, for example, that in the case of Guatemala, and only within households that have college or higher education, marriage is the largest contributor to wealth and poverty reduction. This data drives us, as suggested by Dr. Aguirre, towards a new definition of sustainable development that takes into account the definition of economic development that understands the decision making process of the economic agent from an integral and holistic view of the person, i.e. taking into account the social dimension: both within the family and in the society.

There were 8 panels dealing with different subject areas:

Women and Work: This panel examined the contributions, constraints and challenges for economic, human and social sustainability of the massive introduction of women to the work force.

Family and Care: The care of relationships and family needs, as well as family structures and how they impact positively on sustainability, were the main parts discussed in this panel.

Sustainability and Care at Work: The results of research and business cases in the presentations made by these panellists showed that that the sustainability of a company depends on how organisations care for their employees.

Family and Social Function: The social role of the family and its impact on sustainability became the focus of the discussion.

Learning and Sustainability: How we learn and where become key positive scenarios if we relate them to care. In this panel learning and care were addressed from different perspectives: home and work, from the university to media.

Health and Care: As proposed in this panel, care requires some state of the art skills of the caregiver that vary depending on where, when and how it is done: a home or specialised institution; the relationship with the person who’s being cared for; care policy at urban and rural level, and so on.

Family and Work: In this panel, work-life balance as the core issue that integrates care in both areas and the sustainability objectives of businesses and households were reviewed.

Sustainability and Ecology: In this panel research on the environment was related to care practices used within families and businesses.

At the Committee of National Experts, the presentations of Dr. Lilian Patricia Rodriguez, an expert in development of the School of Psychology at the University of La Sabana; Martha Lucia Velazquez, President of Colempresarias and former Presidential Adviser on Women’s.

Equality, Oscar Ostegui, expert on strategies, mechanisms and tools for research and management in different social contexts in favour of socio-economic development, and Santiago Madriñán, Executive Director of the Colombian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CECODES), shed light on how development is affected by stimulating elements during the growth and infancy of people; how the work-input of women requires a paradigm shift and more flexibility; how the ways of measuring poverty can hide and / or show positive family dynamics and practices for development; and how our blindness to the fragility of the environment coupled with the limited natural resources like water, the excessive desire for wealth, especially in the mining sector in Colombia, jeopardises human sustainability.

The objective of the Conference to create a space for reflection and dialogue on sustainability issues, care and daily life was fulfilled, and joint research projects to further develop these issues between business and academics that originated thanks to the Congress promise a bright future of awareness and development of practices that ensure sustainability in everyday human life.