Business models inspired by nature are the future

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Ellen Jackowski, Global Head, Sustainability Strategy and Innovation, HP


Today’s multinational enterprises are operating in increasingly challenging planetary conditions. The effects of climate change are already upon us, manifesting in natural disasters and humanitarian catastrophes. Resource-rich forests are being destroyed at the pace of 27 football pitches per minute, and more than 8 million metric tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the ocean every year.

 

While many industries and organizations are looking to technological advances to solve the world’s most pressing problems, they should also turn to each other. Combining the expertise of scientists, governments, academics and non-profit organizations with the scale and reach of the private sector can maximize positive impacts for nature and society.

When it comes to sustainability, good enough isn’t good enough. For businesses to achieve longevity, they require a planet that can sustain them. Acting on this belief will challenge enterprises to transform their operations in ways that support and invest in our natural world.

Fostering cooperation to restore and protect the world’s forests

A business model inspired by nature asserts that it is no longer enough to neutralize harm; instead we must create systemic change that benefits all. This can only begin by inviting businesses, governments, organizations and citizens to work together towards the common goal of creating a sustainable future. We must hold each other mutually accountable for making progress at the pace our planet requires.

Best-practice partnerships are emerging that offer innovative business models to follow. For example, International Paper (IP) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have collaborated on ambitious goals for the sustainable sourcing of fibre. The two are also establishing the first ever science-based targets for forest conservation needed across the globe.

Given the critical importance of maintaining healthy forests to moderate the Earth’s climate, HP is building on WWF and IP’s foundation by working to not only align the print industry on responsible forest management, but also take decisive action to contribute to a positive future for forests. In collaboration with WWF, IP, the Forest Stewardship Council and other sustainability leaders, HP is engaging the world’s largest paper producers to help scale their positive impact for forests.

Transforming Markets

During the last 50 years there has been unprecedented progress in human indicators – life expectancy has increased to record levels; infant- and maternal mortality has fallen; more girls are staying in school; more people have been lifted out of poverty than ever before; and inequality between nations has narrowed. The market system has served us well.

But deep fractures are beginning to show: gaping inequality within almost all countries; record environmental degradation and species loss; and the broader impacts of irreversible climate change. Our markets are unsustainable – and we need a new economic model.

To tackle these challenges,Transforming Markets is one of four focus areas at the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Sustainable Development Impact summit. A range of sessions will bring stakeholders together to take action that places human and environmental health at the core of market systems and value chains. These include building sustainable markets, responsible supply chains, moving beyond disposability, circularity and scaling solutions of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, among others.

Partnering to tackle plastic waste

In addition to concern for forests, public-private partnerships are finding new ways of tackling the plastic pollution problem. Scientists predict that in 25 years, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Not only does this plastic destroy ocean life, it also turns up in the food we eat and the air we breathe.

Widespread alarm over the state of plastic pollution has catapulted businesses and organizations towards collaboration on eliminating unnecessary and single-use plastics. The New Plastics Economy initiative, convened by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, has united more than 400 entities to stop plastic from becoming waste. With progressive targets and ongoing reporting, the initiative is helping companies to stop producing problematic plastics like straws, bottles and bags.

More than 8 million metric tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the ocean every year.
Image: HP

Following Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, its already weak trash collection system buckled, and tonnes of plastic and other waste piled up on beaches, in waterways, and in communities. HP has worked with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) such as NextWave Plastics, First Mile Coalition and supplier partners to create a scalable ocean-bound plastic supply chain in Haiti to collect and incorporate the plastic waste into its closed-loop plastics supply chain – creating nearly 1,000 jobs for Haitians and providing healthcare and education for their families.

Growth in global plastics production 1950–2014
Image: The New Plastics Economy

Developing new economic models

As consumers become more aware of the environmental implications of their purchases, global brands are also working harder to address climate impacts across their supply chains. Beyond carbon footprint reductions, companies are beginning to work with local partners to drive new economic models.

Clothing retailer Patagonia, which has been an advocate for the protection of public lands for almost 30 years, has placed a lot of emphasis on the actions the company has taken internally to better its own processes. Most notably, the company’s actions to make its supply chain carbon-neutral by 2025 have encouraged other retailers to do the same. For Patagonia, that has meant working with recycled cotton, polyester and down, among other materials, and trying to find more natural fibres to manufacture clothing – while also pushing suppliers to adopt more sustainable practices.

What is the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact summit?

It’s an annual meeting featuring top examples of public-private cooperation and Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies being used to develop the sustainable development agenda.

It runs alongside the United Nations General Assembly, which this year features a one-day climate summit. This is timely given rising public fears – and citizen action – over weather conditions, pollution, ocean health and dwindling wildlife. It also reflects the understanding of the growing business case for action.

The UN’s Strategic Development Goals and the Paris Agreement provide the architecture for resolving many of these challenges. But to achieve this, we need to change the patterns of production, operation and consumption.

The World Economic Forum’s work is key, with the summit offering the opportunity to debate, discuss and engage on these issues at a global policy level.

Another major outdoor apparel business, The North Face, has also emerged as a leader in this area. The company is partnering with small-scale farmers to adopt new farming techniques that draw carbon dioxide down from the atmosphere to enrich the soil. The carbon-positive materials grown are being used in The North Face products.

Driving social impact to combat climate change

The effects of climate change aren’t just on the horizon – they are already all around us. As industry leaders, we must challenge ourselves and invite others to take action for nature and society. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it is a business imperative.

Multinational enterprises seeking to thrive in the coming age of value-chain disruption caused by climate change must rethink traditional business models and seek collaborative relationships that bring about positive, lasting change for businesses, people and the planet.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Trump’s Syrian hit the softest option vis-a-vis Russia

Crimean crisis: not enough to slow down European indices

The Chinese solar panels suddenly became too cheap for Europe

Main results of Foreign Affairs EU Council, 16/07/2018

The EU seals CETA but plans to re-baptise TTIP after missing the 2016 deadline

EU integration: MEPs want to end permanent opt-outs from EU law

UN rights chief ‘appalled’ by US border detention conditions, says holding migrant children may violate international law

Consultant in Forensic Technology – 1969

EU summit: No energy against tax evasion and fraud

How our food system is eating away at nature, and our future

Peace operations benefit from improved cooperation between the UN and troop-providing countries, says peacekeeping chief

Memoirs from a unique trip to China: “my new old dragon” (Part II)

UN and African Union in ‘common battle’ for development and climate change financing

The Bavarians threaten Berlin and Brussels with immigration crisis

EU Commission announces Safe Harbour 2.0 and a wider Data protection reform

Praising Roma’s contributions in Europe, UN expert urges end to rising intolerance and hate speech

Brexit: MEPs concerned over reported UK registration plans for EU27 citizens

This Chinese megacity is building a giant waste-to-energy plant

Here’s how we reboot digital trade for the 21st century

Syria: Civilians caught in crossfire, UN refugee chief urges Jordan to open its border

Children who exercise have more brain power, finds study

A Europe that protects: Continued efforts needed on security priorities

UN rights chief calls for release of hundreds abducted and abused in South Sudan

‘Let the children live’: UN prepares to ramp up food aid to Yemen as famine risk grows

FEATURE: Niger’s girls find sanctuary in fistula treatment centres

IMF’s Lagarde: Ukraine must fight corruption

European Commission recommends common EU approach to the security of 5G networks

Help prevent children ‘from becoming victims in the first place’, implores Guterres at campaign launch

COP21 Business update: Companies urge now for carbon pricing as coal is still a big issue

The Japanese have a word to help them be less wasteful – ‘mottainai’

6 facts to know about EU alternative investment funds

Why do US presidential elections last so long? And 4 other things you need to know

It will take a lot more than free menstrual pads to end period poverty

Who should be responsible for protecting our personal data?

WHO study reveals ‘game-changer’ drug with potential to save thousands of women’s lives in childbirth

UN chief condemns student abductions in north-west Cameroon

The Commission unsuccessfully pretends to want curbing of tax evasion

To win combat against HIV worldwide, ‘knowledge is power’, says UNAIDS report

A new European banking space is born this year

Caspian Sea deal an invaluable step towards easing regional tensions, says UN Chief

EU budget deal struck with Parliament negotiators

Three ideas for leaders to be more successful in the 21st century

‘All efforts must be made’ to ensure peaceful elections for Guinea-Bissau, Security Council hears

Young people all over the world come together to demand paid good quality internships

Banks suffocate the real economy by denying loans

For how long will terror and economic stagnation be clouding the European skies?

UN chief praises Japanese climate resilience, as Typhoon Hagibis cleanup begins

Why Eurozone needs a bit more inflation

Don’t understand the US-China trade war? This metaphor could help

India-UN fund gets 22 development projects off the ground in first year

China’s New Normal and Its Relevance to the EU

Here are 3 alternative visions for the future of work

Millions at risk if Syria’s war moves to last redoubt of Idlib, warns senior aid official

Commission to decide on bank resolution issues

The European Sting writes down the history LIVE from G20 Leaders’ Summit in Turkey

Breaking barriers between youth in the new tech era: is there an easy way through?

Why strive for Industry 4.0

UN health experts warn ‘dramatic resurgence’ of measles continues to threaten the European region

Russia to cut gas supplies again: can the EU get back to growth without a solid energy market?

Keep Africa’s guns ‘from firing in the first place’, UN political chief urges

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s