COLLABORATION
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Businesses, NGOs Joining Forces to Build Net Positive Movement

One of Kingfisher's Net Positive initiatives is to source all of its timber sustainably by 2020, with the goal of creating more forests than it uses by 2050. | Image credit: Kingfisher

A diverse group of leading UK companies and multinationals including BT, Kingfisher, Coca-Cola Enterprises, SKF, Capgemini and The Crown Estate have teamed up with NGOs Forum for the Future, The Climate Group and WWF-UK to encourage businesses to commit to becoming net positive, by giving back more than they take from the environment and society.

The group aims to create a step-change in how business approaches sustainability by creating a wider net positive movement to accelerate the transformation. The members of the group have all already made, or are working towards, their own public commitments to ultimately have a positive impact on the communities and natural environments in which they operate. For example, Kingfisher has enacted a number of forestry projects that not only protect its supply of timber (a component in 30 percent of its products) long-term but will save the company millions of euros in gross margin; as part of its Net Positive commitment, the company hopes, by 2050, to create more forests than it uses.

Richard Gillies, Group Sustainability Director for Kingfisher Net Positive, said: “People want businesses to be about more than profit. Net Positive provides a framework to help the business community become a force for good. We believe it’s a win, win, win formula. Indeed we believe it’s the only formula for securing a sustainable business over the long term, which is why we have launched our Net Positive approach to business. We don’t have all the answers and we can’t do it alone so we are delighted to be a part of this unique collaboration of partners, aspiring to accelerate the transition towards a wider Net Positive movement.”

The Net Positive group aims to grow the number of businesses that are striving for net positivity by outlining the multiple commercial, social and environmental benefits of the approach through a communications campaign in 2014. Its first task will be to develop a set of principles that characterize a net positive commitment and explain what makes this different from other initiatives, such as a commitment to have zero impact. The group will also explore how new kinds of customer and supplier innovations can open up new markets for businesses and have positive impacts on value chains, systems and society. The companies will meet a number of times this year and will launch its findings with a communications campaign in early Summer 2014.

“This group is absolutely critical for a sustainable future. The businesses involved all share the ambition not just to be a little less harmful not even to get to ‘zero harm’ — but to be a positive force,” said Sally Uren, CEO of Forum for the Future. “By coming together they will help to accelerate the movement and encourage more businesses to take this brave and necessary step. We will have to work together to overcome the resource challenges that we are all facing and that’s why we, WWF-UK and the Climate Group decided to practice what we preach and came together to create real momentum.”

Kevin Moss, Head of Net Good at BT said: “We made a commitment after our Better Future Forum and Net Good launch that we would be instrumental in creating momentum behind the Net Positive movement and are thrilled to be working on this in concert with a cross sector group of leading companies and NGOs. Net Positive will mean different things in different sectors, but the fundamentals will be common and by helping define them we hope we can create the foundations for a new perspective on the role of business in society and an appreciation of the role of sustainability as a vehicle for growth.”

Joe Franses, Director of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability at Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) said: “As part of CCE’s Sustainability Plan we recognize that the sustainability agenda is not just about reducing business impact. It is about the positive social, economic and environmental contribution that businesses can make to the communities in which they operate. We welcome the opportunity to work with other like-minded businesses to develop a definition of net positive and to explore the benefits of setting net positive commitments.”

SB Issues in Focus For more examples of groundbreaking cross-sector partnerships driving social and environmental change, check out our editorial channel highlighting #Collaboration.

Jennifer Elks is Managing Editor at Sustainable Brands. She is a writer, editor and foodie who is passionate about improving food systems, closing loops and creating more livable cities. She loves cooking, wine, cooking with wine, correcting spelling errors in… [Read more about Jennifer Elks]


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