Author: Steve Malkin | The Planet Mark
Where is the Green in Boris’ New Deal?

Where is the Green in Boris’ New Deal?

Have we missed an opportunity to reset our economy and society on a sustainable pathway to combat the worst of climate change? Boris Johnsonbuild build build cry is to have little substance in meaningfully reducing carbon emissions.

As traumatic as this health crisis has been, it offered a rare window of introspectionWe were presented with an exciting list of opportunities to rebuild a Great Green Britain includingretrofitting, housing stock energy efficiencyfuel efficiency, eradication of fuel poverty, cutting carbon emissions, extensive EV infrastructure roll-out, diesel scrappage scheme, incentives for EV purchasing, and investment into renewablesWe hope these opportunities are not lost.   

At The Planet Mark we relentlessly champion direct action in tackling climate change and biodiversity loss and encourage every organisation to directly contribute to society. We do this predominantly with the business community because individuals in these organisations understand these are the most important issues of our time.   

In light of Boris Johnsons announcement today, we will be redoubling our efforts and calling on all organisations in the UK economy to build build build, but with the environment, society, and the economy in mind.  
We appeal to every developer, construction company and subcontractor to build back better. If we are to build new roads, let them be the pathways for zero carbon transport and actively reduce embodied carbon during their construction 

We may be proven wrong, but perhaps we were misguided in assuming this government would do the right thing. We have always placed our faith in businesses to lead the way and today that has been evidenced once more. We appeal directly to every business out there to drive the sustainability agenda. 

And let us repeat the business case for sustainability: Organisations with strong sustainability strategies outperform those that don’t. Those that cut carbon save money, that people want to support ethical brands with their spending, that companies that embrace sustainability attract talent and reduce employee turnover. The bottom-line proves that sustainability is good for business, and so business is good for society and the environment. 

A recent poll from YouGov found that only 6% of the population want to return to the pre-lockdown economy, an appetite for change mirrored across a string of policy briefings and open letters issued to the Prime Minister and his government, imploring decision makers to align the UK’s recovery package with net-zero targets.   

There was always a risk that, in their haste to kickstart economies post-Covid-19, governments might fall into a default of investing and providing stimulus to traditional sectors and companies, the usual suspects of big corporations and organisations with a history of polluting and of embedded fossil fuels.  Reviewing the policies that make up this ‘New Deal’, Johnson’s plan to ‘build, build, build’ includes allocating £100Mfor a road-building programme and a deregulation of the housing market. 

A myriad of  businesses, green groups and thought leadershave urged more targeted, specific and ambitious action on decarbonisation as part of the green recovery. The New Deal makes no reference of carbon pricing, the UN SDGs or a holistic approach to transport – all key demands in the build-up to the announcement.   

Although not enshrined in this New Deal, t
he climate crisis will remain at the forefront of political debate with leaders who can embrace and share a vision of the better, safer, healthier world we can create together. This is their time to help build back better and it is ours too. 

We established The Planet Mark to help individuals in organisations to drive measurable change and enjoy the process. The programme helps unearth the passion and knowledge of people inside every company who care about society and the environment. 

It is incumbent on all of us to consider what is next and what role we can play in creating an economy that helps us tackle the issues of our time, and this is where we must all work togetherThis is a place where organisations, businesses and brands must step in to provide support. This is our space and our time to make change happen.  
You could be in one such organisation, and you can choose to be part of this movementby adding your support and your voice hereCommitting your organisation to the Decade of Action and putting sustainability at the heart of your brand and your purpose will encourage others to follow.  We hope you join us. Together we will make a world of difference.

It’s Time for Nature this World Environment Day

It’s Time for Nature this World Environment Day

It feels like no conversation can start without talk of the pandemic, of lockdown, and of the changes to our society it has brought. But at the feet of the elephant in the room that features in so conversations nowadays, there are some green shoots starting to appear. From deer roaming across Japanese cities to peregrine falcons swapping cliff edges for the Houses of Parliamentreminders of the natural world are surrounding us in this period of human quietness. How apt it is that the theme of World Environment Day this year, celebrated on June 5th, is biodiversity.   

World Environment Day has been celebrated every year since 1974, engaging governments, businesses and people to focus their minds on the most urgent environmental issues. Biodiversity and nature touch every aspect of our lives. The food we eat, the places we live and work and the air we breathe are all so closely intertwined with nature. To care for nature is to care for ourselves and each other.  

And nature is good for us. Those of us fortunate enough to have access to green space over the last few months have no doubt experienced the value of nature in our lives. The simple pleasure of walking among the trees has never been so important to me. And the science backs it up; studies have shown that just 30 minutes a week spent outdoors can have positive impacts on our mental and physical health.  

I am not alone in saying that the current crisis, for all of its tragedy, fills me with a tremendous sense of opportunity. While we must focus on overcoming the effects of covid-19, how we decide to rebuild is equally important. I feel as if we had all-too-easily forgotten about the importance of biodiversity in our lives, but this pandemic has just as easily reminded us how integral to our wellbeing nature can be. 

This moment creates an opportunity to build back better. The rebuilding of our economies can be a moment to re-imagine a better future grounded in resilience. It can be difficult to imagine how one person, or one organisation, can take positive steps to integrate nature back into our lives. However, in the Decade of Action, I believe that every one of us can do more to protect our world from further biodiversity loss. 

On Wednesday I talked to colleagues from the University of Oxford and Prologis in a webinar to encourage discussion around how our economy can better balance business value and sustainability. It is a great watch, and I’d urge you to join us for our future webinars. 

Companies who work with The Planet Mark already do great work in helping nature thriveOur goal is to bring the best out of people, technology and nature. Through our partnerships, we aim to inspire people and help them take action with our certification. Every member is offered the chance to visit The Eden Project to learn from the worldleading educational charity, and each year they attain certification, they work with rainforest communities to half deforestation and climate change through Cool Earth. But it is essential that we all do more to protect the natural world that we are so interdependent with. At The Planet Mark we know that by uniting the very best of people, technology and nature, we can radically reduce carbon emissions, transform communities and ultimately halt climate change. 

Regenerative Economy

Regenerative Economy

We hosted our Make Your Mark webinar on Regenerative Economy this week, which brought about great discussion from our speakers and in response to questions from our audience. 

Right now, is a defining moment when we can turn the tables on climate change and set us on a new trajectory to zero carbon. Are we recognising the value of our relationship with nature to invest in natural capital to reverse biodiversity loss and the 6th mass-extinction? And are we going to reward those brands that give back to society and that contribute to our communities? 

The fiscal recovery packages that will drive economies around the world and here in the UK can deliver all of the above. We can power through this forthcoming recession by going green and finally provide the harmonious balance between our economy, environment and society.   

As the OECD said: We can no longer rely on economic growth on its own to make our societies better off…If we were to suggest a simple phrase to summarise this, we might describe it as a path of development which meets the needs of both people and planet.”  

For me there were some key take-aways from our webinar: 

1. We recognise that this is a defining moment for humanity. The Covid-19 crisis is an unfolding tragedy, but it has presented an opportunity for us to build back better. There is a Goldilocks Zone or perhaps a Greenielocks Zone. Investing in key themes such as clean energy and infrastructure, clean R&D spending and public infrastructure can deliver high positive economic outcomes and high positive climate change outcomes that also deliver for society through job creation and long-term skills development. And it will lock-in ongoing carbon emissions reductions to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis.

2. We must communicate. Will business stand up for a sustainable future? Individuals and organisations can guide the conversations and hold politicians to account to ensure that strong rhetoric turns into strong action. The business case for sustainability and the regenerative economy is clear, it must be our new normal and we must add our voices to those around us to increase the pressure on governments and institutions to hold them to the promises that are being made.  As Brian O’Callaghan said:  “Every extra breath can pop the rhetoric balloon.” How do we lend our voice to do that? 

  • Pressure. Pressure. Pressure. 
  • Ensure that you walk your talk – make sure your business is embracing sustainability.  
  • Use your personal and business networks from your social media, company reports, petitions and more – tell your sustainability story and share the news.
3. Leadership and lobbying. Business cannot and must not wait for governments to legislate. As Nicki Whittaker said: “We have to be the change.” Measure and reduce your carbon emissions and other environmental impacts but go beyond. Do more. Engage your people in the process, collaborate with your supply chain, innovate and make a difference. Lead by example, demonstrate that sustainability is good for business and lobby for the regenerative economy.   
The World Economic Forum virtual meeting took place yesterday also, HRH Prince Charles recognised that the Covdi-19 pandemic is a chance to reset the global economy. In an article in The Guardian he is quoted “We have a unique but rapidly shrinking window of opportunity to learn lessons and reset ourselves on a more sustainable path,” 
The regenerative economy will support and reward those organisations that truly contribute to society and the planet. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to reset our economy and together we can make a difference. 

We will continue this discussion and provide a community to facilitate support.

Register your interest in joining our community group on Regenerative Economy.
Register to receive updates on our future webinars.

Register to access the Make Your Mark: Regenerative Economy webinar (attendees have been sent the full recording and slides)

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The New Economy: how we can build a better way of living

The New Economy: how we can build a better way of living

Even while we are wrestling with the immediate and unfolding tragedy and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are necessarily turning our minds to what is next. What will life be like in the next few weeks and months and even in the years to come?  

Whatever was normal before 2020 is unlikely to ever be so again. We are creating a new normal, following the science, guidelines and also our intuition. We can see, and have painfully witnessed first-hand, the value of planning for different eventualities and of being prepared.  

It is incumbent on all of us to consider what is next and what role we can play in adapting to a new normal. Aristotle said: It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light’. In these darkest of times, we must focus on what we can do to create a new normal that delivers a better, healthier, safer, more sustainable society and planet. It is a certainty that civilisation depends upon it. 

Arguably, we have never had civilisation so engaged in a single issue as the Covid-19 pandemic. We have never seen such a rapid and dramatic shift in our societies around the world. For many this has meant a radical change in the way we live.   

As the lockdown in the UK begins to lift, and alongside other countries, we will transition into a new normal. We are still struggling to understand what that new normal is going to be. It could be that the new normal may not be steady, it may be dynamic and may require us to constantly adapt to change. Those changes could be as profound as our experience of this pandemic.  

But one thing is certain, the new normal is ours to create. And we are creating it right now. This is our opportunity to come together and create a better way of living. You could say it is our responsibility to do so. 

We remain in a deep climate crisis whose effects will continue to unfold and be felt by communities around the world, from increasingly volatile weather events and their impacts, from fires and droughts to flooding. We are also contending with the collapse of many eco-systems and biodiversity destruction, which will inevitably lead to crises around food, access to clean water and air. Nature is in crisis and, therefore, so are we. 

This is certainly a seminal and historical moment in time. 2020-2030 was already identified as the Decade of Action, a period when we would need to take decisive action to tackle climate change, limit global heating to 1.5C and to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.  

Amongst many millions of others around the world, we were raising our game to be at our best in this decisive decade. And then we had the Covid-19 crisis. 

As we all do our bit to tackle this crisis, we are learning more about what we value in society. We are indebted to all essential workers and industries who are our frontline and the supply chain that supports them. We are protecting the most vulnerable and changing the way we live to help others. 

We have created new funding mechanisms to get money to those people who need it most, to provide them with food and shelter, to help people continue to live in their homes and remove uncertainty of how to pay their bills. It is not perfect by any means, but it shows what can be done to protect people and keep them safe. 

We have adopted new technologies to work from home, to keep our institutions moving and our economy from collapsing. At the same time, we are living in enforced separation from loved ones, friends and families, some of whom have been taken from us in the most tragic circumstances. 

There is an innate need for humans, us, to interact, to connect and come together for the greater good. We have chosen as a society to make deep sacrifices to protect each other. It shows what we can do. 

Perhaps for many of us, it is changing our views on what we value, be it being with friends and family to our relationship with nature. We read so often about our need to be in parks and nature (just to lie on some grass!), how bird song brings joy, how we appreciate cleaner air, the peace that quieter roads and skies bring to us. Has the Covid-19 crisis reminded us how we need and value nature? 

Society has changed as a result of this crisis, forever. If we act now, the nature could also change forever. Both are in the balanceIt is our time to plan, prepare and change them for the better.  And we have a perfect opportunity to do so. 

It is almost certain that economies around the world will go into a recession, perhaps even a depression, for which there is no precedent. The Covid-19 crisis is entirely different from the structural issues in the 2008 financial crash and the 2011 Eurozone crisis. PWC has forecast a 7% contraction in the EU economy and similar for the UK. It has highlighted sectors such as hospitality, tourism, travel and leisure contracting by 14%  37%, so some sectors and countries may be hit harder. 

Plans are already underway about how we minimise the damage of this recession as they wreak havoc on society. Like Covid-19, recessions have a devastating and far reaching impactSo how do we navigate through what appears to be a perfect storm of challenges to our economy, society and environment? 

There is a risk that, in their haste to kickstart their economies post-Covid-19, governments might fall into a default of investing and providing stimulus to traditional sectors and companies, the usual suspects of big corporations and organisations with a history of polluting and of embedded fossil fuels.  

There could be a watering-down of environmental standards, any carbon savings made through the Covid-19 crisis would be eradicated and our new-found habits of reducing travel and respect for nature lost in a drive for a business as usual economy. If the economic recovery package is misdirected and misspent, we will adopt the old normal and we will head into an irrevocable climate crisis. 

Alternatively, we learn from what we are experiencing and use this moment to reset society and make it more resilient to this and future crises. We can do this by using the re-building of our economy to ensure that it works for society and the environment. Put simply, we build a new normal that is better.   

This is the momentum that is building behind the new economy, also known as the regenerative economy, that is growing globally. In the UK, the call to ‘prioritise the green economy’ is being made by CEOs of leading brands, businesses, institutions and government advisers.   

The recent Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (SSEE) report, has set out 700 fiscal policy initiatives that can accelerate climate progress, halving our carbon emissions by 2030 whilst rebuilding our economy and making society more resilient. We will create millions of jobs in the short term and set our trajectory for zero carbon in the process. It is an exciting proposition. 

The new economy is focused on ensuring that organisations balance the three pillars of sustainability, that is economic, environmental and social impacts. It means that investment would be directed to rebuild the economy, reduce environmental impacts and deliver net positive contributions to society.   

Driving the new economy would use this moment to identify and invest into organisations, industries and sectors that will enable our transition into a more sustainable, zero carbon world.  In this crisis we are seeing the institutions, organisations and brands upon whom we can trust to deliver public good. They are the ones contributing value to society in these challenging times.  

We often quote Mark Carney, the former Governor of the Bank of England. In his new role at the UN he had this to say about this unique chance to create a better society: “Value will change in the post-Covid-19 world. On one level, that’s obvious: valuations in global financial markets have imploded, with many suffering their sharpest declines in decades. More fundamentally, the traditional drivers of value have been shaken, new ones will gain prominence, and there’s a possibility that the gulf between what markets value and what people value will close.” 

The new economy builds-in the value of people and the planet as well as profit. And it is already here. We see it in the greening of our grid electricity, in the exponential investment and growth of electric vehicles and infrastructure. We see purpose-led brands outperforming their competition on the stock markets, in the voluntary adoption of sustainability in our small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and in the rise and rise of social enterprises.   

The SSEE report identified five policy items to achieve economic and climate goals: 

  • Clean physical infrastructure investment 
  • Building efficiency retrofits 
  • Investment in education and training to address immediate unemployment from Covid-19 and structural unemployment from decarbonisation 
  • Natural capital investment for ecosystem resilience and regeneration  
  • Clean R&D investment 

All our investment should be directed into an economy that helps us tackle the issues of our time, and this is where we must all work together. Institutions are convening spaces for this movement, however, some of those are facing a crisis of trust – especially in government and politics and the media. This is a place where organisations, businesses and brands can step in to provide support.  This is our space and our time to make change happen.   

You could be in one such organisation, and you can choose to be part of this movement by adding your support and your voice here. Committing your organisation to the Decade of Action and putting sustainability at the heart of your brand and your purpose will encourage others to followThis collective action will help more binding commitments at the postponed COP26 in 2021. 

And you can take simple steps immediately such as committing to measure and reduce your carbon emissions, switching to renewable energy, to procure only from those organisations who align with your values. The list is actually endless, but here are some ideas from The Planet MarkThey are all actions that are good for your business, your people and our planet. 

The much-loved Sir David Attenborough famously said: “Humans are great problem solvers. We need to imagine a better future and work to create it”. Perhaps that is our challenge, to work together. It is a time to tear down barriers and to collaborate. 

Never before have we had civilisation so engaged or had our society and economy so profoundly challenged. In this period of unprecedented change and trauma, we have an opportunity to change the way we live and create a better future.   

In 1968, Robert Kennedy said: GDP counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage… It counts jails, napalm, nuclear warheads, and the loss of natural wonder in chaotic sprawl… Yet, it does not pay attention to the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play… It measures everything in short — except that which makes life worthwhile.  50-years later we have a chance to create a new measurement of success that puts nature, the environment and society at the centre of what we do – to make life worthwhile. 

This is a historical moment in time. What we do now will shape our present and our future, for our world and our civilisation. It is in the balance and it is in our hands. This is our moment, let us collaborate. Together, we can create a better more sustainable world for us, our future generations and fellow passengers on planet earth. 

Steve Malkin, Founder of The Planet Mark 

The Planet Mark will be joining and sharing events where the regenerative economy is taking shape and taking hold. Follow us here so that we can share these with you. Our mission is to enable organisations and their people to positively transform society, the environment and the economy.  We are part of a community for change. 

Planning for now and the future

Planning for now and the future

The immediate and pressing need for many organisations has been to rapidly adapt to the new type of economy we are currently within. At the same time businesses are also having to look beyond  the immediate lockdown phase to what a future may look like. In many ways, the decisions that are made now will form the type of ‘new normal’ we emerge into – a challenging balancing act between the immediate and the near future.Planning for the future of our economy can also be done in tandem with planning for the future of our society and the planet.  

If ever we needed it, we are all now very aware of how our lives are indebted to those people in our essential services. I am sure we have all appreciated those who have dedicated their lives to be in the front line, be it in the health and care sectors, in education and across the public services. But perhaps there is more visibility of those that we rely on in our buses and public transport, in the shops that we rely on, the logistics serving us at home and to those in the waste and cleaning sectors who are doing so much for so many. 

At the same time individuals and organisations have been stepping into support fill in the gaps, by volunteering across our communities and helping charities reach the most vulnerable and companies repurposing production lines to meet new needs, especially in PPE and food distribution. 

There are also many positive news reports of how some people are enjoying quieter roads and less pollution, with cleaner air and lower carbon emissions. It seems that there are lessons here for society and the planet, and we may want to find ways to keep hold of those benefits. 

As the Prime Minister stated in his daily press conference last Thursday “by coming together we are stronger” and he went on to say that there are reasons to be hopeful. Those of you familiar with The Planet Mark know this is our mantra too: together we are a collective force for good.  

These are challenging, uncharted and traumatic times, but our business communities and our social communities will bounce back from this crisis. We ourselves are working on plans to support our community with regeneration plans, so every business can get the cash flow moving and create safe working environments for their teams, within a better world for all. We will share our plans with you once we have formulated them and welcome your engagement in this process.  

For all of us, we’re not there yet, we still have some way to go in this current lockdown phase, which is hitting far too many of us far too hard, but by combining the very best of people, technology and nature and communicating our achievements within our communities, we can all share and learn in order to get sight of a clear way forward.  

Please keep safe and keep connected, because together we are a collective force for good.  

With best wishes,  

PS.If you would like to see some of the uplifting stories from some of the companies in our community and to share yours, please join our #kindnessiscontagious LinkedIn group.