According to the WWF, we are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it.
Prince Charles in his role as founder and Patron of Business in the Community asked business leaders at the organisation’s Waste to Wealth Summit to use their collective resource and skills to help double the UK’s resource productivity by 2030. And as a country with abundant resources, South Africa can also heed the Prince’s call.
Hearing the Prince’s talk about the need for more significant action continues to reinforce my belief that it is business leaders who need to step up. Not just from a renewable energy perspective, my passion point, but businesses should also begin to think creatively about how to re-use waste products and significantly cut the amount of harmful waste we are all producing.
As leaders in business, we have an opportunity and responsibility to do something about this. If those responsible for setting the direction of business were presented with a similarly concerning outlook on the state of their markets, the competency of their core products or the future of their customer base, they would use all the power and influence at their disposal to rethink their strategy and secure their future.
Those at the fore of successful businesses are experts at responding to change, be it in consumer preferences, developments in technology or shifts in demand. Every decision we make impacts people’s lives, from employees, the communities in which we operate, to the world we build for future generations. The power of business is another resource to be harnessed.
Businesses need to change their cultures and operations to ensure they have a positive impact on the environment. But there is an added benefit for companies that get this right: they’re helping to create a world which future generations will enjoy, and they’re building a competitive advantage that benefits their business in the long run. Being a company who cares and creates a reputation for ‘doing it right’ attracts the very best talent, the bedrock of any successful business.
Increasingly, employees want to know that the place they work doesn’t just do good work. It does good. For enlightened businesses able to tackle society’s big issues they can generate this double dividend and secure the future of their businesses. This is why I remain optimistic.
There are many businesses, big and small, tackling these challenges in very different ways. The scale of the change they are making will vary as will the complexity of the action they take. No matter what it is, it all adds up.
Woodridge College and Preparatory School has developed EcoSmart, an initiative that reduces the school’s impact on the environment. The school recently invested in 1,121 PV panels as part of a solution designed, installed and maintained by genergy. And upon completion, will generate up to 579.26 MWh and reduce its CO2 emissions by roughly 597 tons per annum. EcoSmart is not only a great marketing tool for the school, but it is a teaching platform to educate pupils, business’ future leaders, about the environment and reducing our impact on the planet.
Imagine if South African organisations each played their role in being more conscious in its consumption of resources. We’d be reducing our CO2 emissions, shrinking our landfills, easing the pressure on the grid, and creating creative solutions to reduce the demand on our finite resources.
The collective power of business, big or small, is enormous. We need more businesses to set themselves similarly ambitious targets to that of the UK’s BITC because the clock is ticking.
As the UN said earlier this year, we only have 12 years to get climate change under control. If businesses step up and take on the challenge, the impact will be significant. It will be noticeable. It will inspire others, and it will benefit us all.
I encourage business leaders to share the same passion and urgency for change as HRH the Prince of Wales and see what we can achieve together.
Author: Terry Billson
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