Major businesses join new coalition to go ‘net-positive’

Dell, Hewlett Packard (HP) and Kingfisher are among a host of major businesses to form a cross-sector coalition that aims to increase the number of companies that go beyond reducing negative sustainability impacts to provide "net-positive" contributions to society, the environment and the global economy.

The Net Positive Project was launched on Tuesday (7 June) by BSR and Forum for the Future to make it easier for businesses to measure and report on net-positive claims by developing practices and tools that companies can use to quantify, communicate and enhance their positive impacts on society and the environment. Other founding members of the scheme include AT&T, Dow Chemicals, Kohler and the Crown Estate.

BSR senior vice president Eric Olson said: “With the recent adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the need for net-positive approaches is more urgent than ever. Business has a clear mandate to create sustainable technologies, products, and services that can help the world meet these goals.”

‘Enhanced reputation’

The new collaborative scheme will focus on three main initiatives in its first year: ‘Net Positive Principles’ which aims to expand, refine, and agree on defining principles and a theory of change for net-positive; a ‘Net Positive Methodology’ to build on existing work to advance the framework on how to scope, measure, and communicate net positive outcomes; and a ‘Case Study Methodology’ to advance a standardised approach for companies to develop case studies describing how products and services contribute to social and environmental progress.

“The Net Positive Project will create a race to the top by increasing companies’ sustainability ambition to have a positive impact on society and the environment,” Forum for the Future’s chief executive Sally Uren said. “It will also help companies enhance their approach to innovation and strategy, brand and reputation, and relationships with stakeholders, while it increases sales and financial success.”

‘Preferred future’

The role of businesses in taking increasingly sustainable approaches has gained heightened scrutiny in recent months in the wake of the signing of the Paris Agreement.

Experts from Kering, Interface and Marshalls have previously urged businesses to push for net-positive initiatives in order to bridge the gap between a future of deprived of natural assets and a ‘preferred future’ where companies can prosper as sustainable leaders.

One of the new coalition’s founding members, Kingfisher, has undertaken an internal Net Positive sustainability plan to transform the business to have a restorative impact on the environment.

£50m investment in renewables to reduce grid energy consumption; reaching 96% of sustainability sourced timber used in products; and the development of its first ‘energy-positive’ Castorama store in the South of France stand out as notable recent highlights of Kingfisher’s Net Positive progress.

Kingfisher at the edie Responsible Retail Conference

Kingfisher’s head of sustainability Caroline Laurie will be speaking at the edie Responsible Retailer Conference on 21 September to discuss “delivering sustainable products in a competitive marketplace.

The edie Responsible Retailer Conference is the only event that equips retail leaders with the tools to influence stakeholders and realise the commercial benefits of a sustainable model.

You can view the agenda of the conference here and register to attend here

George Ogleby

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