How can business respond to the climate crisis?
A Blueprint For Better Business
As we made clear earlier this year, Blueprint welcomes the decision by UK business leaders to voice their concerns about climate change. Today a cross-sectoral business group has decided to launch an independent business platform, the Business Declares Network. They reflect a widespread understanding that business has a vital role to play in solving global sustainability challenges as demonstrated by the SDGs and organisations such as Climate Action 100+.
We believe it is critical that a broad movement is developing around engaging with the business community, with businesses actively taking part in initiating change and calling on their peers to do likewise. Every leader who makes a statement has the potential to inspire more to feel able to join them.
Inspired by the IPCC report, the youth climate strikers and Extinction Rebellion, and their joint CEO-led letter to The Times during the protests in April, Business Declares Network aims to encourage and enable as many businesses as possible formally to declare a climate and ecological emergency and to act accordingly.
The Business Declares Network has three objectives:
- Network. We support a network of business leaders united in their public declaration of the climate emergency.
- Resources. We provide resources to help businesses set and deliver upon their Climate Emergency Plans
- Events. We convene business leaders and provide an opportunity to learn, share and support one another.
Many businesses support and are committed to playing a role in delivering the transformation Business Declares Network are calling for, but in many cases much of this effort is limited to better reporting and taking action to manage financial or reputational risk. This is important, but there is much more businesses can do by acting quickly and decisively to move beyond minimising harm to actively seeking to have a more positive impact. They need to innovate – for example creating more products and services, which encourage and enable their customers to make their own commitments to contributing to a sustainable future.
The world faces a catastrophic threat from unchecked climate change. Public scrutiny and protests are examples of the way society can hold business, and governments, to account to meet their responsibility to protect the natural world and conserve finite resources. Business as part of society also has a responsibility to hold itself to account and act to address the environmental challenges we all face.
Blueprint’s view on the relationship between purpose and sustainability
Our Five Principles state that a purpose led company, which acts as a Guardian for Future Generations:
- Honours its duty to protect the natural world and conserve finite resources
- Contributes knowledge and experience to promote better regulation for the benefit of society as a whole rather than protecting self-interest
- Invests in developing skills, knowledge and understanding in wider society to encourage informed citizenship
How can your business best act to help achieve this?
- Mitigation of harms – acknowledge and seek to measure the harm the business causes, accept responsibility and take steps to minimise the impacts
- Innovation in processes, products and services – create new core products and services, which for example, enable customers and encourage suppliers to make their own commitments to contributing to a sustainable future.
- Collective action – use the influence and expertise of the business to contribute to systemic change through:
- Joining with others to help address the damage that cannot be dealt with by the business on its own
- Sharing the expertise gained to help others address problems that the business has not caused but for which they have knowledge that could help in tackling them.
If you would like to discuss sustainability, purpose or any other topic with Blueprint, please email us
[This article has been updated from an earlier version published in April 2019]