The working group, which is being facilitated by Forum for the Future, includes multi-nationals such as BT, Kingfisher, Coca-Cola Enterprises and The Crown Estate along with The Climate Group and WWF-UK.

One of its key aims is to grow the number of businesses that are going Net Positive by outlining the commercial, social and environmental benefits this approach has through a communications campaign in 2014.

Its first task will be to develop a set of principles that characterise 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 members of the group have already made, or are working towards, a public commitment that will ultimately mean that they have a positive impact on the communities and natural environments they operate in.

According to Sally Uren, CEO of Forum for the Future, the group is “absolutely critical” for a sustainable future and argued that it was a “brave and necessary step” that needed to be undertaken.

“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,” she said.

For BT, it’s an approach that complements its own Net Good strategy. Kevin Moss, who heads up Net Good, said he was “thrilled” to be involved.

“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,” he said.

Kingfisher’s group sustainability director Richard Gillies believes the work will provide a framework to help the business community become a force for good.

“It’s the only formula for securing a sustainable business over the long term,” he argued. “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.”

The group plans to launch its findings with a communications campaign in early Summer 2014.

Kingfisher’s head of innovation for Net Positive, James Walker, is taking part in a special Resource Revolution webinar edie is hosting in January to debate the findings of our recently launched circular economy blueprint. You can find out more and register here.

Maxine Perella

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