There is much evidence to suggest that sustainability is about balance, and that the three main systems within which we operate need to work together in a specific order. These systems are the Economy, Society and the Ecosystem.

Ecosystem means “a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment”; it is more than just the “environment”, it is everything within and the hugely complex and finely balanced relationships

The sustainable system order is simple; the economy serves society which, in turn, serves the ecosystem. As the economy prospers so it enables society’s service to the ecosystem. All is well and in balance. Or so it should be!

As far as I can tell, even within the infinite universe, there is only one truly habitable planet (ecosystem) within easy reach, and that is the one we currently stand on now. In time, we may well find a multitude of planetary homes, but I don’t believe we have that much time.

We are not owners of our ecosystem, we are a small yet influential part of it. It is not ours to play with, we belong to it. It is not for us, it is for future generations. It is not just for humanity, it is for all beings. Being influential in our impact we must act as conscious guardians. Society (you, me, everyone) must serve the ecosystem. But, we are not. The order has been disrupted. We have broken the balance. We are being irresponsible yet we are totally responsible.

The definition of compassionate leadership is to secure the best for all, and “all” includes our planet and everything on it - the ecosystem. For that to happen we need to honour the balance of systems and our order of service, where the economy serves society which can then, in turn, serve our ecosystem.

I believe that balance and order has been lost and our economy is now serving less and less of our society. We have created a deeply flawed economic system that favours the few at the expense of many, that demands the false promise of perpetual growth, that follows short term profit over long term success. The economy includes our political system, and I am not sure what you might be witnessing, but I see so much driven by short-term, ego-centric, self-interest.

In the West we seem to think that our capitalist democratic political systems are the standard that the “rest” should aspire to. I am embarrassed by that arrogant perspective. There can only be one economic and political model that needs to dominate in order to restore the balance, and it has to be one of Compassion; understanding with positive action. No matter what political leaning or guise it may serve, if the principle of compassion were to be applied to any current model, then the world would be a safer place in so many ways; the imbalance of the three core systems does more than just damage the ecosystem element, it creates tension within and between each. As one element crumbles so do the others. They are not separate, they are truly interdependent. They are, together, an example of the more general use of the word ecosystem, “a complex interconnected and interdependent system or network”.

Being a compassionate leader we can ensure that the organisations and companies that we lead restore the global balance. By creating economies that serve the wider society, so society can resume its responsibility to serve the ecosystem upon which it needs for its very survival.