Thoughts On Our Planet: Our Business
Last week, I attended a screening of Our Planet: Our Business at the University of Sussex Business School as part of Circular Cities Week. Inspired by the Our Planet Netflix series, Our Planet: Our Business is a collaboration between the World Wildlife Fund and PwC.
This short film combines stunning wildlife footage with the voices of leading scientists, business and world leaders and the natural historian, Sir David Attenborough, to explain how the health of our planet has reached a dangerous tipping point, with a massive loss of nature and biodiversity putting economies at risk and threatening the livelihoods of millions of people.
The film’s central contention is that there’s now an ecological crisis as well as a climate catastrophe looming and business must step up urgently to meet this challenge by taking a leading role in the innovation, recovery, and restoration needed to avoid environmental collapse.
The film starkly makes the point that human civilization has relied on the relative stability of the Earth for the past 11,700 years of the Holocene Epoch. Our planet is a single interconnected ecosystem, in which damage to one part, such as the climate, affects the whole. We take this natural system for granted, although there’s no guarantee it will remain in balance. In fact, during other times in its history, the Earth has been too turbulent and unstable to support human life.
The film repeatedly makes the point that we have a 10-year window in which to act or it will be too late; the damage we’ll have done to the biodiversity of our planet will be irreversible. Our economic stability depends on nature’s stability – we can’t have one without the other. And like the Our Planet series, the film has a positive message that change is possible and businesses can play a fundamental role in saving the planet.
We know that this is the case from the public’s response to films like The Blue Planet. While many large companies were already well aware of environmental issues, and were working to reduce their plastic use and transition to a circular economy before the series aired, some were less prepared when their consumers started to ask tricky questions about their packaging.
A swathe of corporate announcements followed, and a race for the most competitive packaging recyclability claims and recycled content targets. This was followed by Government commitments, including the 25 Year Environmental Plan and, more recently, the Resources and Waste Strategy.
The film proposes that business leaders focus on five key areas in order to restore nature and help build a stable and sustainable future for our planet:
1. Zero Carbon: Embrace the clean technologies that now exist to replace fossil fuels and reach net-zero carbon emissions as quickly as possible.
2. Minimise The Space We Use: Reduce our impact on the land by employing new technologies to produce crops on as small an area as possible in order to protect the habitats that remain and restore forests and grasslands.
3. Return The Ocean To Good Health: Respect the ocean as a resource that belongs to us all, only taking what it can naturally replace, and by creating designated marine protected areas.
4. Eliminate Waste: Design their product lines to fit within circular economies that reclaim resources.
5. Reimagine Success: One of the most damaging elements of today’s society is the quest for perpetual growth at all costs. A reinvented model of ‘business as usual’ will allow us to thrive and grow sustainably, adapting within the finite world around us.
While the issues we face are immediate and acute, there is hope and much that we can do.
WHAT WE CAN DO
Organise company screenings of Our Planet: Our Business and facilitate a discussion on what our businesses can do to address the areas highlighted in the film.
Add our voices to the growing movement demanding an ambitious New Deal for Nature and People that protects and restores our biodiversity by 2030.
Email our MP to tell him/ her that the time to act is now.
Find out what other businesses are doing through their Sustainable Living Plans, and use these positive examples to inspire us to action.
Celebrate Wildlife Conservation Day on Tuesday, 3rd March 2020.
Read my article, How Unilever Is Winning With Purpose.
OVER TO YOU
Question: Have you seen Our Planet: Our Business? What impact did it have on you and your business? I love reading your feedback so please do take a moment to share how you’re going to use this in the comments box below.
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