Companies for a Half-Earth Future are creating a transformational agenda for next-generation, sustainability-focused business practice. Companies for a Half-Earth Future are Half-Earth champions, working to incorporate Half-Earth compatible practices into their daily activities, their strategic planning and decision-making, and their shareholder valuations.
Inaugural Companies for a Half-Earth Future from the energy, finance, nutrition, travel, lifestyle, and conservation sectors, are contributing to the development of a framework for purpose-driven business practice that supports a Half-Earth future. By creating a catalogue of best practice, these companies are changing the way we do business, and leading the way in caring for our planet.
The Companies for a Half-Earth Future initiative has two goals:
1. To provide a science-based positive vision and focus for purpose-driven, long-term innovation and business development.
2. To explore how companies can use their value proposition and core business offering to innovate in driving value to their business, a sustainable planet and a Half-Earth future.
The underlying principles of Companies for a Half-Earth Future are:
1. A new generation of companies have a purpose beyond profit
Companies need profit, but for a purpose-driven company profit is like air for a human, it is necessary, but it is not the meaning of life. In the same way a successful Company for a Half-Earth Future will be successful economically, but the purpose is to provide what society needs to do in support of the Half-Earth goal. Many start-ups are responding to the needs in society for smart sustainable solutions, but we also see a number of incumbents with sustainability-relevant purposes. Some of the incumbent companies are formulating new purposes, while others are revisiting their original purpose. Half-Earth is about a future where humanity lives in harmony with the rest of the planet, supporting our inherent biophilia and creating solutions that are compatible with a Half-Earth future.
2. Science beyond incremental policy goals can provide guidance
So far, most companies have been reactive in relation to sustainability. Regulations or goals formulated by policymakers have been adopted by companies, with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the most popular set of global sustainability goals today. For most companies such a reactive approach is how they view their role in relation to sustainability, but for purpose-driven companies that want to be proactive the question emerges: What goals exist beyond current policy goals? Earlier attempts to formulate guidance have provided general principles, such as the four principles by the Natural Step, that can be used in conjunction with a Half-Earth future. Most initiatives have, however, only focused on what we should avoid and approached companies as problems where the best they can do is to disappear, such as “Science-based reduction targets” or “Planetary boundaries.” Such frameworks can help major polluters identify their problems, but are of limited use for solution providers. The Half-Earth vision provides a science-based and positive goal for companies.
3. Nature has value beyond money
Most of the solutions to environmental challenges have so far assumed the necessity of putting a price on the nature we need to save/take care of. While this can help sometimes by making it less profitable to destroy nature, it can also undermine the values we have for the nature we want to save/take care of. A new generation of economists also realise, as social scientists have known since Auguste Comte, that incentives for deeper change can not only depend on price signals.
4. Rapid technology development is providing new opportunities
The fourth industrial revolution has unleashed technologies and business models that provide society with totally new ways of providing what we need, from energy and food to mobility and experiences. For companies this opens up opportunities to deliver new solutions and new business opportunities, but it is also a challenge for those that stick to their old business models and ways to deliver solutions.
5. New clusters of solution providers are emerging
New ways to provide sustainable solutions tend to require collaboration beyond existing sectors as different parts of transformative solutions often exist in companies in different sectors. Digital collaboration tools have enabled platforms that allow companies from different sectors to meet and explore ways to collaborate.
6. Resource constraints, climate change, unemployment and other trends are converging
Policymakers and companies tend to approach the converging trends on a trend-by-trend basis. However, to capture the full opportunities, and mitigate the challenges, the effects of converging trends must be understood. Rapid technological change, geopolitical changes, value shifts, and new ways to gather and process information are likely to magnify the impacts from the convergence of trends, making it increasingly important to understand and turn them into opportunities for a Half-Earth future.
These goals and assumptions guiding Companies for a Half-Earth Future provide possible ways forward meant to inspire a discussion about how purpose-driven companies, and those that want to support them, can collaborate to deliver solutions that contribute to a Half-Earth future.