Paul Shrivastava goes to work each day at Future Earth focused on solving one of society’s biggest issues: global sustainability. Future Earth is a huge initiative, involving nearly 60,000 scientists from diverse backgrounds around the world, with the goal of stabilizing and mitigating damage to the ecological and political systems in the face of climate change's effects. Future Earth was designed to bridge the gap between disciplines like science and business, which often tend to operate in their own silos.
Shrivastava formerly served as director of the David O’Brien Center for Sustainable Enterprise at Concordia University’s Molson School of Business, in Montreal. He took a leave of absence for his role at Future Earth, which gives him a broader research platform for issues related to the dynamic planet, global sustainable development, and transformations toward sustainability.
Most individuals would be daunted by the scale and the scope of this work, but not Shrivastava. He believes that business is the engine of wealth creation. He also believes that businesses most directly impact sustainability, determining what goods are produced, how they are produced, and where they are produced.
For more than three decades, Shrivastava has combined innovation and business impact, demonstrating significant environmental collaborative leadership and societal benefits.
The first major example of his business impact came shortly after his hometown of Bhopal, India, suffered the Union Carbide plant explosion, in the early 1980s, which led to the deaths of thousands of citizens and serious injuries to many more. He wrote extensively about the tragedy and soon founded the nonprofit Industrial Crisis Institute, Inc., in New York, to mediate conflicts among Union Carbide Corporation, the government of India, and the thousands of victims. In response, he started the Industrial Crisis Quarterly.
Shrivastava cofounded the ONE (Organizations & Natural Environment) Division of the Academy of Management (AOM), which now has hundreds of members around the globe. His concerns about the links between corporate behavior and ecological sustainability led to the publication of an Academy of Management Review paper in 1995, “The Role of Corporations in Achieving Ecological Sustainability,” which has been cited nearly a thousand times.
In part due to his success in both dealing with big issues (Bhopal) and thinking ahead (climate change/ecological effects), Shrivastava was chosen in early 2015 by the Governing Council of Future Earth, formed under the auspices of the United Nations, to become its first executive director to lead its collection of more than 60,000 researchers from major international physical, natural, and social science research societies. He has since been actively involved in choosing the global hub directors for Paris, Tokyo, and Montreal, and the selections are underway for Colorado (on behalf of the U.S.) and Stockholm. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Christian Science Monitor, the Globe and Mail, the Montreal Gazette, and on The News Hourwith Jim Lehrer.