First coined in 2007 by WWF and SustainAbility in their joint report, ‘One Planet Business’ articulates a positive vision for the role the business sector could play in enabling humanity to live sustainable lifestyles in harmony with nature and ecological limits.
One Planet thinking is borne out of the reality that humanity is in a situation of ‘ecological overshoot’. In other words, it is using more natural resources and ecosystem services than the Earth can sustain. The 2016 edition of WWF’s Living Planet Report shows that our collective lifestyles now exceed the planet’s carrying capacity by 50% – we consume the equivalent of one and a half planets.
At the current pace of growth, we would need three planets in the coming decades to meet humanity’s needs. Of course, we don’t have another two planets up our sleeve. This trend to go overdrawn on nature is already having a profound impact on the global economy and if we continue with ‘business as usual’ we can expect to see further poverty, hunger, political unrest and stunted economic development whilst the population grows to a projected 9 billion people by 2050.
In short, every business must become a One Planet business.
This presents us with a tremendous but exciting opportunity; learning to live sustainably on One Planet. The Business and Sustainable Development Commission have recently valued the business opportunities in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as at least $12 trillion between now and 2030.
To realise this means transforming our economic model, understanding that it is a subsystem of a finite natural system. We need to rethink how we do business to reconsider its role in society and create new business models and partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders in order to solve problems bigger than any one organisation. This will require a dramatic shift in the business environment – including policy and regulations – but also in mindsets and values and above all, learning to innovate collaboratively like we have never done before.
OPEN exists to accelerate this transition by working with educators, learners and employers to close the execution gap between ambition and performance.