Some in business see the environment as being in conflict with the economy. They think that improving the environment undermines or weakens the economy. Three resources recently laid out a different perspective – a healthy environment is in fact, good for business:
- The Global Economic Forum (GEF) annually does a risk assessment. The GEF asks nearly 1000 international decision-makers from the public and private sectors and from academia and civil society to assess threats to the wellbeing of economies / businesses within the next ten years. In the 2019 Global Risks Perception Survey, environmental risks dominate. Risks of extreme weather events and biodiversity loss were among three of the top five risks by likelihood and four of the top five by impact. In 2019, respondents see climate change policy failure as a major threat to economic well being.
- One of Canada’s foremost sustainability experts, Bob Willard, believes the GEF risk report has major implications for business. In a recent blog he notes the economy is highly dependent on the services provided by the environment. He characterizes the environment as a holding company. Like wholly owned subsidiaries, business and society rely on the environment for “….provisioning services such as minerals, food, water, timber, and fiber; regulating services that affect climate, floods, disease, wastes, and water quality; cultural services that provide recreational, aesthetic, and spiritual benefits; and supporting services such as soil formation, photosynthesis, and nutrient cycling.” Willard makes the case that threats to the environment are ultimately threats to business.
- Growing numbers of businesses recognize the interdependency between the state of the environment and the state of the economy. One tool they are using to take action is an Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) Scorecard. ESG Scorecards can be much more than a public relations or investor relations communications device. They enable company executives to track, verify and report on a wide range of actions affecting their business – including their contributions to the environment and to society.
No company can excel at managing all the risks they face. From a recent discussion and review of the ESG Scorecard with Bob Willard it is abundantly clear that being pro-active in managing energy and water enables a business to better manage a range of company and environmental risks.
Decision-makers should no longer think that their choices are either concern for the environment or concern for economic performance. Serious consideration must be given to both. As international leaders have discovered, and as Bob Willard notes, if our “Mother Nature” holding company goes out of business, we’re all out of business.
On April 2019, Bob Willard visited us here at 360 Energy to share his expertise and the latest information about sustainability and its impact on businesses.