Here are the 10 things business should do to help save the planet.
1. Develop a long-term visionIn a time of rapid environmental, social and economic change, short-term corporate planning horizons represent a risk to company value creation and resilience. Investing in understanding the long-term risk and opportunity picture, and building organisational capability to adapt to changing circumstances, is key not only to business success but will transform companies into forces for good. Businesses should develop visions for the long-term that is aligned with sustainability priorities, such as the UN Global Compact principles and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
2. Redefine the company purposeRethink the purpose of the company to ensure that it meets the needs of the 21st century. Abandon ‘shareholder value’ as the dominant business philosophy and the long-held view that business is purely about maximising short-term profit. Replace it with the principle that business can and should balance profit with broader value creation that serves the interest and needs of stakeholders and society at large.
3. Aim for net positive valueAssess the company’s environmental and social footprint, determine and manage material impacts so as to ensure that the company delivers net positive value across a broader set of ‘capitals’ beyond financial. Use the framework of the new Sustainable Development Goals to assess how the company contributes to societal goals, and respond in strategy with targets aligned with science (e.g. the Planetary Boundaries framework).
4. Establish a strong accountability systemGood governance is a precondition for demonstrable results. A good accountability system involves formalising board oversight of non-financial performance, adopting governing documents on material issues, linking executive compensation to non-financial performance (e.g. GHG emissions and energy efficiency) as well as engaging actively with stakeholders, including regular dialogue with own employees.
5. Set in motion the transitionPlan the shift towards a sustainable mode of business which penetrates all aspects of production and operations, towards a circular ‘cradle to cradle’ approach. Embed sustainability in core business decisions, processes, management systems and culture, and extend requirements to suppliers to drive sustainable practices amongst smaller companies. Set clear and measurable targets (e.g. on emissions reduction) so that performance can be monitored, and pursue third party evaluation for trust and credibility of approach and outcomes.
6. Advertise responsiblyCorporate advertising practices drive excessive demand, and companies have a responsibility to stop fuelling senseless consumerism and delink human worth from acquisition of material goods. Business should take bold steps to move towards more value-based and sustainable marketingand encourage responsible consumption.
7. Embrace transparencyWith 6 billion smartphones expected on the market by 2030, combined with the continued explosion of social media platforms, the Internet Age’s demand for radical transparency is here to stay. Companies should openly communicate material non-financial impacts – both good and bad – thereby getting a jump on competitors and regulators, and score points with