Week of 22 November 2021
We need to shift the underlying paradigm of business to adopt a just and regenerative mindset, embedding this into a new way of making decisions
Our key takeaway: How business sees its role in society needs to change, and fast. This entails a radical change in mindset: one which moves away from an extractive model to one that recognises that businesses are part of society and society is embedded in nature, and that embraces the power of nature to renew and regenerate. Adopting this just and regenerative mindset is the only way to achieve the business transformation needed for long-term, inclusive prosperity.
Forum for the Future in partnership with WBCSD published ‘A Compass for Just and Regenerative Business’, developed with input and feedback from the American Sustainable Business Council and a number of companies (including Unilever, Nestlé, Ingka Group (IKEA), Kimberly-Clark, Seventh Generation, SIG and Capgemini). The briefing “explores the role of business in taking a just and regenerative approach to unlocking transformative action”:
- Time for companies to adopt a new mindset: a just and regenerative mindset: The briefing makes clear that “[w]e are at a crucial juncture in human history, with a rapidly closing window of opportunity.” This is not about “how a business minimises its environmental impact or prevents human rights abuses”, rather “we need to shift the underlying paradigm of business to adopt a just and regenerative mindset, embedding this into a new way of making decisions.” This is about moving away from our “current industrialised model”, our “current extractive model”, in which the mindset is as follows: “natural, human and social ‘capital’ is seen as an input into our economy and we are working to reduce ‘externalities’ – unintended impacts that are not factored into the current model.” This is about moving toward recognition that “[b]usinesses are part of society and society is embedded in nature” and “embracing the power of nature to renew and regenerate, understanding that humans are a fundamental part of nature, and respecting everyone’s universal rights and potential to thrive.” The report makes clear that this mindset shift “will be the key to unlocking many of the other shifts needed to achieve transformation” and is “the only route to long-term, inclusive prosperity and a source of great hope.”
- Just and regenerative have to go together: The report makes clear that “we’re highlighting the need for social justice in conjunction with regeneration so that structural inequity cannot be overlooked as simply the way things are. It’s not only the capacity of some people or some systems that need regenerating but all people and all systems. We can’t claim to be living regeneratively if some people are still living in poverty, grossly unequal in power and with daily life driven by survival.” Adopting this just and regenerative mindset therefore helps business go “beyond false divisions between environmental and social issues – a thriving planet can’t be one that contains widespread human suffering or stifles human potential; and a thriving human population can’t exist on a dying planet.”
- The Business Transformation Compass provided helps companies move toward a just and regenerative mindset: The report provides a navigation guide for businesses to help companies shift their mindset. Companies may currently have one of four possible mindsets: (1) risk mitigation, (2) zero harm, (3) do good and (4) just and regenerative. These can be identified by identifying the “business’s culture, structure and policies along with the actions of its leaders.” The report provides examples of sentences that we can hear within businesses from each mindset, and provides guidance on how to move toward a just and regenerative mindset. Specifically, the report applies the Compass to seven sustainable development challenges: climate; nature; circularity and waste; land and natural-resource management; providing and promoting decent work; voice, governance and participation; and respect for human rights. The report also applies the Compass to business functions, namely procurement, operations, finance, marketing, human resources, governance, strategy and corporate affairs.
For further information, see Forum for the Future and WBCSD, A Compass for Just and Regenerative Business (November 2021)