The reality of climate change can no longer be flatly denied when its adverse impacts continue to be staggeringly felt across all nations and societies. In the Philippines, one need not look far than the perennial super typhoons we have been experiencing in the past decade alone, which are clear manifestations of the consequences of global warming. The devastation wrought upon individuals, communities and businesses is not only immense but getting worse each and every time.
The effects of natural disasters on the economy are what the private sector is called upon to address and mitigate in particular. According to the World Economic Forum global risk perception survey, issues such as extreme weather events, major natural catastrophes and ineffective climate change adaptation strategies have topped the list of concerns among businesses.
To be fair, this is how sustainability has become the most prevalent corporate buzzword in the past few years. Companies have been making great strides in pivoting toward the tenet of the “triple bottom line” or “people, planet and profit,” primarily by adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) prescribed by the United Nations.
Almost half of the 17 UN SDGs concern nature and the environment, and these have been serving as great tools for companies to understand the issues of climate change and to see how they can contribute toward these goals. They form an integral part of the now commonly utilized format of sustainability reporting, which help set a company’s sustainability agenda more clearly. Global consultancy and auditing firm KPMG says that as much as 67% of companies worldwide are now utilizing sustainability reporting.
However, a gap is emerging between the sustainability goals companies identify as relevant to their operations and their actual business goals. Just as the SDGs present themselves as a convenient checklist of aspects of sustainability, there is an ever-present danger of being confined to just that—compliance with the usual sustainability measures without genuine impact in reality.
More than just doing no harm to the environment, the bigger task is to ensure that future generations thrive with more abundant resources. Environmental conservation may not be enough as it is believed that we are consuming resources equivalent to 1.75 Earths every year. This is where regenerative development comes in to address the challenge of going beyond sustainability.
As the term implies, regenerative development seeks to ensure that resources are continuously made available and even made more abundant as much as possible for future generations. It may mean discovering new supply sources or innovating on processes and technologies. It may demand certain shifts in the way we have been used to doing things. Regenerative thinking asks how we can create more value in a unified and inclusive manner, ensuring that we elevate all stakeholders and improve all aspects of human living.
In marketing communications and public relations, regenerative development also helps achieve more genuine and impactful reputation management. It serves as a better tool in achieving brand authenticity and avoiding the ever-present danger of “greenwashing.” Sustainability should precisely be incorporated in the way a company operates and not just in what it offers, and a regenerative model helps ensure that an organization’s vision is aligned with its mission—its day-to-day tasks and basic operations.
Regenerative development also inspires a more proactive stance in terms of producing more positive outcomes. More than just reporting numbers as factor of avoidance or prudent use, it challenges companies to redefine value in terms of creation and innovation. It demands a more optimistic mindset of ensuring abundance rather than a pessimistic stance of scarcity and competition.
Last not but least, as an inclusive mindset, regenerative development naturally leads to collaborations and partnerships. As companies are forced to take a hard look at the individuals, communities and sectors that it affects, these stakeholders are no longer nameless faces but active participants in creating shared value. This is one way how a regenerative mindset can be ingrained in business operations so that we do not fall prey to lip service or “greenwashing.”