Today is a day we should not be marking. It is certainly no cause for celebration.
Today (2nd August) is Earth Overshoot Day, the day on which we have already used up a whole year’s worth of nature’s resources. Last year it fell on 8th August, this year it’s almost a week earlier. So in 8 months, we’ve used a full year’s worth of natural resources. For the remaining 4 months of the year, we will go overdrawn by eating into the following year’s supply of natural resources. Put another way, we are using up resources as if we had 1.7 planets. Elon Musk might want to put us on Mars, but for the time being at least, we have only One Planet.
2nd August is an average that masks a huge variation around the globe. As the infographic below shows, if we all lived like the people of Luxembourg then Earth Overshoot Day falls on 17th Feb. In contrast, if we all lived like the people of Honduras, it wouldn’t fall until 31st December.
We can see from the way some countries perform that we can do a lot better. It is possible to reverse this trend and push back ‘Overshoot’ to later and later in the year.
Businesses have a vitally important role to play in reversing this trend through helping consumers make smarter, greener choices and through improving the environmental footprint of their own operations and supply chains.
Equally, business educators have a key role in raising awareness and engagement in this issue through their teaching and research, as well as by providing thought leadership in the business and consumer media.
OPEN exists to support educators, businesses and students in driving innovation in the teaching, research and practice of sustainable business. By working together, a relentless focus on this will one day result in all businesses becoming One Planet businesses. If we can achieve that, we will go a long way to ending the ‘Overshoot’.