“In nature, nothing exists alone” – Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962.
Sustainability is now fundamental to economic growth. The market leaders of tomorrow will be those companies who actively generate the most positive social and environmental impacts. Research from B Lab UK revealed that B Corps companies who give as much consideration to social and environmental impact as they do to their financial returns, are growing 28 times faster than the average UK business. Furthermore, the Business & Sustainable Development Commission’s Better Business, Better World report, identifies at least $12 trillion a year (by 2030) of market opportunities linked to implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This is a conservative estimate. According to the Commission, the real market value could be as much as 2-3 times higher.
‘there is abundant evidence that our global economy is in the early stage of the Sustainability Revolution, which appears to have the scale of the Industrial Revolution and the Agricultural Revolution – and the speed of the Information Revolution. Compared to these three previous revolutions, the Sustainability Revolution is likely to be the most significant event in economic history.’
Al Gore, Generation Foundation’s Transformation of Growth.
We have 12 years to prevent the world’s temperatures from rising 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, though below 1.5 degrees is becoming the new agreed limit, and so avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.
We’re close to having a catastrophic amount of C02 in the atmosphere; as Azeem Azhar shows us in his weekly newsletter the Exponential View.
Azeem says: ‘We must avoid a level of 450 parts per million.
In May 2019 there was 415.39ppm
Exceeding the 415ppm level for the first time in millions of years.
12 months prior: 409ppm
250 years ago, there was estimated to be: 250ppm;
At this rate we’ll pass 450ppm in the next 10-15 years.’
There will be 3 billion more people to feed and 1 billion in poverty by 2053.
According to the WWF’s Living Planet Report 2014, 52% of the planet’s biodiversity was wiped out between 1970 and 2010.
According to the World Economic Forum’s New Plastics Economy Report, Global plastic production is set to double over next 20 years.
By 2050, the same report says there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. As we will move from the equivalent of one garbage truck per minute leaked into our oceans in 2018, to 2 by 2030 and 4 by 2050.
Currently there are 150 million tonnes of plastic in our oceans, with plastic packaging representing the major share.
Life in freshwater systems declined by 81% from 1970 to 2012, according to the WWF Living Planet Report 2016
David Attenborough put it well at Davos in early 2019:
‘If people can truly understand what is at stake, I believe they will give permission to business and governments to get on with the practical solutions.
As a species we are expert problem-solvers. But we haven’t yet applied ourselves to this problem with the focus it requires.
We can create a world with clean air and water, unlimited energy, and fish stocks that will sustain us well into the future.
But to do that we need a plan.
Over the next 2 years there will be United Nations decisions on Climate Change, Sustainable Development and a New Deal for Nature. Together these will form our species’ plan for a route through the Anthropocene.
What we do in the next few years will profoundly affect the next few thousand years.’
Our mission at Pelican Founders, is to find and help grow these practical solutions to climate change and the welfare of our global society.
Fundamentally we believe:
A: ‘Not being as bad’ is no longer enough. Businesses need to be proactively impactful across 360 degrees of their business operations, to drive positive change.
B: Businesses must lead change as consumers can only do so much.
C: Investing in regenerative companies, and making this a mainstay of any portfolio, is crucial to drive the change; to create social and environmental value whilst also creating economic value.
The inclusive and collaborative ethos of these positive impact businesses helps increase the speed of change as opposed to the sometimes stunted and protectionist approaches of old business.
The Better Business Better World Report by the Business Commission says: ‘Drive the transformation to sustainable markets with sector peers. Shifting whole sectors onto a sustainable footing in line with the Global Goals will unlock much bigger business opportunities. Consider food and agriculture. A global food and agriculture system in line with the Global Goals would deliver nutritious, affordable food for a growing world population, generate higher incomes – especially for the world’s 1.5 billion smallholders – and help restore forests, freshwater resources and vital ecosystems. It would create new economic value of more than US$2 trillion by 2030.12 And it would be much more resilient to climate risk.’
At Pelican Founders we help the businesses that live and breathe this, make an even deeper mark; and encourage more businesses and consumers to act and think sustainably.
Pelican Founders gives 1% of its profits to grassroots charities, through ‘1% for the Planet’, which we will disclose yearly.
Based on our passion for the planet, we commit to reduce waste sent to landfills or pumped into our oceans and promote the circular economy generally.
We also seek to promote reforestation, as permaculture, to support local people with year round harvests; as well as reforest parts of the earth that need it most and are vital to cooling the planet.
We are also supporters and keen promoters or regenerative agriculture and soil health.
What we’re doing at Pelican Founders:
- What we’re reading:
‘Drawdown: ‘The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming’, Edited By Paul Hawken. The Top 100 solutions to climate change, as measured by top experts globally.
‘Let My People Go Surfing’ by Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia founder: A manual on how focusing on climate, community, employee happiness and longevity, as much as staying true to product and customer, are core components to building and maintaining a successful company.
‘Doughnut Economics’ by Kate Raworth, on the importance of the Ecological Economy. How standard economic models are broken and why there’s a necessity to factor the planet’s limitations into all future planning.
- What we’re watching:
Artifishal: a film about people, rivers and the fight for the future of wild fish. It explores wild salmon’s slide towards extinction, the threats posed by hatcheries and fish farms and our continued loss of faith in nature.
Everything Jaques Cousteau: The Water Planet: A pioneer in asking us to engage with our most fundamental connection to the oceans and shedding light on man’s negative impact therein.
He soberly and poetically opens his 1970 documentary with,”There is a fresh sense of urgency in our work, observing and reporting on the awesome alchemy of the sea, for we could well be the first witnesses to the death of life.
It is tragic that among all the men scurrying about the tiny continental islands of our watery planet, too few are able to sense the serum coursing in their veins, too few who can feel ‘I am the sea and the sea is me’.
Every living thing, eagles, roses, whales, butterflies, trees, fishes, corn, turtles, amoebas and even man himself, all are organised water. And there is only one source of life sustaining water, the sea.’
- What we’re listening to:
Episode 4 of the Impact Investing Podcast with Jonathan Hera from Marigold Ventures on his founder friendly approach using debt and using a female lens for impact investing.
Episode 37 of Sustainability Defined podcast, offshore wind with Benji Sykes & Liz Burdock. At the time of recording, the UK had the largest turbine, and field of wind turbines, globally.
‘Apeman’ & ‘Preservation’ by The Kinks
- Where we’re walking:
In our nearest broadleaf forests, some of the dominant habitats of the UK. Find your nearest here.
How to measure impact, beyond the broad brush strokes of the UN SDGs, please have a look at the Impact Management Project here.
Our friends at B Corp recently released their playbook on ‘How to Declare a Climate Emergency’ here.
Business & Sustainable Development Commission’s Better Business Better World Report: See page 8 for the 60 biggest market opportunities related to delivering the Global Goals
WWF’s Living Planet Report 2016: Synthesizes the mountain of evidence showing the Earth system is under increasing threat: climate, biodiversity, ocean health, deforestation, the water cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the carbon cycle.
The Business & Sustainable Development Commission’s Better Business, Better World full report: http://report.businesscommission.org/
Women Rising 2030: Better Business Better World Report: Women’s leadership in business can unlock significant opportunities linked to a sustainable economy.
Al Gore’s Generation Foundation’s Transformation of Growth report.
The World Economic Forum’s New Plastics Economy Report.
The International Panel on Climate Change, IPCC Reports
Pelicans are social birds who live and hunt cooperatively. They’ve survived for over 30 million years on 6 different continents. But in a blink of that time, in the 1970’s they were almost toppled as a species due to man-made pesticides. Having come off the endangered species list at the end of last century, they’re a strong example of how mankind can reverse their negative effects on the planet.
Now, however, they face a new threat from plastic in our oceans that they confuse for prey. More than ever, and unwittingly, they’ve become a physical symbol of our chance to improve the balance between man and nature.