All corporations need a business relationship with nature | by Ari Joura, PhD | March 2024

With nature as the negotiator at the table, companies can only take as much as they can give back

The services provided by nature can no longer be taken for granted. Businesses must give back as much as they take, just as they would with any other stakeholder. Image generated by Leonardo AI

The common story of sustainability revolves around all the damage we do to nature. We quickly quantify this in tons of carbon. Biodiversity often enters the conversation as an afterthought. He does not mention social issues at all.

Carbon is really important. It is relatively easy to quantify compared to many other measures of what we could do with the planet. Truth be told, even simple carbon footprints can be difficult to assess with accuracy. However, with other measures related to sustainability, quantification is even more difficult.

Equally important are other measures of human-caused damage, such as temperature rise or loss of biodiversity. The quantification of these issues is really starting to gain ground.

Still, there may be another way to look at this problem: Instead of focusing on the damage humans cause to nature, why not consider the benefits nature provides us every day? These include, but are not limited to, food, fiber, wood, metal, clean water, and air.

We cannot guarantee that by minimizing all damage to nature and keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees, nature will continue to function as it has for the past few decades. Climate-related disasters can happen anyway. Crop destruction could drive millions into famine.

Imagine having a decades-long business partnership with an old friend. In recent years, you have mistreated this partner in various ways. Even to an outsider, it’s clear that your relationship has gone awry as a result. If you want to fix this relationship, you can make a plan to stop beating up your old friend and calling him names by 2025. Or you can apologize for your shortcomings and send them a big gift that shows how much you still care about them.

By analogy, who is this old friend? Nature.

What could work better than a promise to stop abusing your friend? Invest in your relationship.

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