Business and saving our planet.

Terry Billson

Business leaders need to step up in the fight to save our planet

The need for action is now.
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 is the founder and Patron of Business in the community in the UK. In that role he 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. South Africa, with its abundant resources 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 to the task of saving our planet. We are not talking just about the renewable energy perspective, which is my passion, but also that businesses should be creatively thinking about how to re-use waste products. This will 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. Securing the future is top priority for any business.

Those at the fore of successful businesses are experts at responding to change. Wether it is in consumer preferences, developments in technology or shifts in demand, every decision we make impacts people’s lives.  This stretches across employees, the communities in which we operate and the world we build for future generations. The power of business is another resource to be harnessed.

Change

Businesses need to change their cultures and operations. The Environment is in jeopardy and it needs to be cared for more closely. Furthermore 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. Any business knows that is the bedrock of success

Increasingly, employees want to know that their place of work doesn’t just do good work, it also does good. Enlightened businesses able to tackle society’s big issues can generate this double dividend and secure their future. 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.

What is happening: A practical example

Woodridge College and Preparatory School has developed EcoSmart, an intiative 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.
Upon completion, it will generate up to 579.26 MWh and reduce its CO2 emissions by roughly 597 tons per annum. EcoSmart is a great marketing tool for the school. It is also a teaching platform to educate pupils. They will be business’ future leaders, aware of their environment and the importance of 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. It is no secret that 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. Let’s see what we can achieve together. Business saving our planet is a big piece of the puzzle.