With rising energy prices, growing consumers demand and economic imbalances, there are compelling reasons whether you are an established business or simply just starting a business to review, act and respond quickly to sustainability strategies.
The world faces immense problems, so great that few organizations have the power or scale to solve them. Business is unique in this sense. Through engaging brands and thoughtful innovation it can mobilize consumers to change behavior in positive ways. By adapting the resources it uses, and the ways it works, it can make huge difference to the environment. It can be a powerful force of positive change.
There is no paradox or conflict, as some suggest. Business really can grow and be good. People, planet and profit are not alternative goals, or a compromise result. A positive impact on people and planet can be achieved whilst delivering profitable growth too. Indeed, a positive impact on people and planet is increasingly becoming the best source of profitable growth.
Despite a rapidly increasing global population and carbon emissions that threaten the air we breathe – it is possible to continue to grow economically, and replenish the resources we use. Of course it is likely to be a different sort of growth. It will be less about volume, more about profit; less materialistic production and more about supportive services, less self indulgent and more enabling people to live better lives. Whilst the importance of social and environmental issues might seem obvious, they are not always seen as key to business success. Indeed, waves of restrictive legislation and anti-capitalist lobbying can put them in conflict. This is because we haven’t seen the connections.
Sustainbility is now about profit … it is the opportunity of the “twenty-first century.” The business case for “people and planet and profit” is based on both the profitable new opportunities of sustainable markets – embracing these issues within existing markets, and investing in new market spaces such as renewable energies – and also on the significant cost and risks likely to be incurred by unsustainable practices in the future.
These growth opportunities are rapidly being embraced, the gold rush is on. Venture capitalists and entrepreneurs are now firmly focused on sustainable markets. Similarly the costs and risks are already hitting balance sheets. Investors are penalising “dirty” companies for their vulnerable future cashflows, and finance managers are calculating their liabilities. The consequences of not changing are not just for the world we leave behind for our children, but more immediately through the liabilities of increasing financial penalties and the massive environmental destruction that obviously and strongly felt in our 24/7 cycle.
Crisis is the prelude to change. Whilst some see change as a threat, others seize the new opportunities. If we look to the East, perhaps to learn a new language as well as find new markets, we would find that the same character in Chinese script represents both ideas, threat and opportunity.
Welcome to the dawn of a new business world. It’s time to think and act differently.
The People Planet and Profit Manifesto
Leaders of business
This is your wake-up call.
You’ve been living on borrowed time.
Raping the natural world of its resources, and leaving a toxic mess in its place.
These weather patterns are not freaks, they are the world you have created.
Blinding the man on the street with your superficial innovations and image.
What about the sweatshops, the emissions, the packaging, the greed?
It doesn’t look good.
Business, society and nature need to find a new way to co-exist.
If you aren’t sustainable, you are irresponsible.
It’s time to adapt or suffer the consequences.
The business world is about to go through a rapid, fundamental change.
What an opportunity, but also what a threat.
It’s time to rethink.
Time to stop living in the past, and think of our future
Business is not a machine, it’s a dynamic system – it lives, adapts and grows.
You need to think again about what is a cost and a risk, and what really
creates value in the world today.
But it will take a lot more than reducing, recycling and reusing.
It requires a fundamental rethink, radically and creatively.
Rethink your business purpose and strategy.
Rethink your processes and technologies.
Rethink your markets and audiences.
Imagine that you are looking at a piece of impressionist art. Short term, too close, you are blinded by millions of dots, stand-back and you see a bigger vision.
The environment is not a commodity, and people are not disposable.
New legal codes and financial penalties will protect them.
But this is not just about compliance. It’s much more than CSR
It goes to the heart of business. To why you exist.
Where you focus, how you succeed.
To connect business and the world in new ways.
People and planet and profit. Together, achieving more.
Business is a societal good. It has a responsibility beyond itself.
Brands and consumerism, profits and wealth can be incentives for change.
Available to anyone, the benefits shared by everyone.
Be brave. Seek out ideas beyond your comfort zone.
Create a new language of sustainability that transcends traditional disciplines
Redefine stakeholders more broadly
Everything is possible. Nothing is off limits.
From nuclear energy to GM foods, we need to rethink our prejudices too.
Collaborate with your competitors, and even your fiercest critics.
Work with governments and activists to explore new solutions.
Together we can do so much more.
We need innovation to find new ways to overcome conflicting priorities,
to make inspired choices, to find brilliant new balances.
Sustainability is about creating a more lasting and fairer world.
Where we can work and play, laugh and smile.
And our children will be able to too.
Grow by putting our future at the heart of your business.
Grow better by being and doing good as a business.
Be bold and brilliant.
Be the change.