The future that’s coming…
The human population is set to grow to more than 9 billion by 2050. What sort of world do we want new arrivals to come in to? One of scarce resources and extreme competition for the basic elements of survival, or one in which they are able to build stable and meaningful lives for themselves and their children?
The future we can build…
The time has come to build a world where we can welcome 9 billion people rather than fear their arrival. A future of healthy and thriving ecosystems and 9 billion capable citizens is an ambitious vision and a powerful driver for the development of economies, businesses and societies. The companies that will build such a future will be Rejuvenative Enterprises.
A Rejuvenative Enterprise is one which provides a manifest contribution to the abundance, vitality and productive capacity of natural capital and societies upon which it depends for skills, resources, markets and customers.
The goal of Rejuvenative Enterprise is to play a clear and positive role in building a world of 9 billion capable citizens.
Principles for Rejuvenative Enterprise
At the heart of these ideas are the following principles, rejuvenative companies would be able to demonstrate that they:
- Are Thermodynamically optimised – their use of energy and materials would be in alignment with the physical characteristics and limits of the planet with a focus upon ‘entropic efficiency’.
- Value abundance rather than scarcity – prioritising technologies and behaviours which deliver either natural (e.g. biologically-based) or managed (e.g. through closed loop stewardship) abundance.
- Enhance natural vitality – valuing technologies and processes which make use of the planet’s natural rejuvenative and productive abilities, learning from and utilising natural production techniques as the basis for their technological and industrial models.
- Balance their interdependence – recognising and balancing the web of social interdependencies they exist within, seeking mutual equity within all relationships.
The path to rejuvenation
Building a sustainable, equitable future requires a clear and consistent pathway of corporate evolution from the leading business practice of today to the Rejuvenative Enterprises to come.
With a focus upon key areas of business practice, there are three fundamental steps on this evolutionary journey: Transitionary, Sustainable and Rejuvenative Enterprises.
Transitionary Enterprises incorporate sustainability best practice in many of their activities based upon business as usual approaches, with an ambition for best but not leading sectoral practice.
These companies have a good grasp of incorporating good citizenship in business operations while maximising profit, but work fundamentally within traditional ‘business as usual’ cradle to grave models.
They offer a wide range of products that have integrated sustainability characteristics in either sourcing or production. While some products and services have lower than average sustainability impacts, the majority are conventional relative to their competitors.
The company uses mainly conventional energy sources together with some renewables. Carbon free goals are reached through the use of additional offsetting.
Sustainability and CSR strategy is integrated into core business structure and stakeholders are involved in some processes.
Ecological and social capital relationships are acknowledged but external costs are not accounted for or addressed. Targets for fundamental performance improvement are set, focussing upon direct and indirect impacts.
Sustainable Enterprises look to achieve best in class sustainability performance. Sustainability is part of business strategy, with a class leading ambition for net positive impacts.
These companies examine their products and services in-depth and strive to operate their businesses following best sustainability practice. A number of products and services follow cradle-to-cradle production models and several products have class leading performance in energy and material efficiency. The overall product portfolio is zero-impact based.
Carbon-free production is achieved through means including integrated on-site renewable energy generating production facilities.
The corporate ambition is to achieve net-zero impact and efforts are made to achieve ‘best-in-class’ position. Business strategy is largely defined by the sustainability ambition while material sustainability issues are analysed in terms of their impact upon financial, environmental and social risk.
The CEO plays a clear leadership role in sustainability strategy and sustainability is viewed as a source of business opportunities and driver for innovation.
Sustainability communication is highly prioritised within Annual Reports (AR) and stand alone Sustainability reports include in-depth, best practice third party assurance.
Rejuvenative organisations align and optimise their activities to long-term sustainability factors such that their ability to grow is not constrained by traditional resource limits. Taking a stewardship approach to all their resources, they make a positive contribution to social and ecological capacity.
A circular, Cradle-to-Cradle approach is used in all aspects of business operations for scarce and potentially dangerous materials where alternatives have not yet been developed.
A positive focus is placed upon the development and maintenance of the stability and capability of customers and potential customers.
Business operations function with minimal energy utilization and go beyond renewable energy with use of bio-energy harvesting. Technology utilises massively distributed industrial production capable of aggregation, hyper low voltage technology/energy systems and biological production processes.
The planning and execution of commercial activities is required to demonstrate a positive contribution to social and ecological utility, which in turn is supported by staff reward systems. Because it is in the company’s interest to maximise the pool of capable healthy customers, it ensures that none of its activities undermine this goal and that instead they make a positive contribution.
A sustainable future is within our grasp
The vast majority of the behaviours and technologies likely to support a future fit for us and our descendants already exist – should we decide to use them at the scale required.
Business evolves all the time, the coming decades will bring a more seismic change to business as usual than has been seen since the Western Industrial Revolution.
Rejuvenative Enterprises are those which understand, respond and capitalise upon the changes our planet faces, for the good of themselves, the planet and its people.
Rejuvenative enterprise promises new life, new hope and new wealth for us all, let’s embrace its challenge.
This post was first published by Sustainable Brands on 27/03/2014.