Investing in our planet means investing in people and nature

Post author image. Jessica Rose
Jessica Rose, Campaign Manager, Environment at Business in the Community (BITC) explains why businesses should be investing in our planet.

“Invest in our planet” is the rallying cry of Earth Day 2022. It comes in the wake of the most recent IPCC report warning that the window is narrowing for action to drastically curb our greenhouse gas emissions and retain a liveable climate for humanity.

The question is no longer whether there is a climate crisis, but whether businesses will continue to be part of the problem, or become part of the solution. It is a question companies must be prepared for, knowing they face intense scrutiny from current and future investors, customers, and employees.

YouGov research for BITC before COP26 last year showed only 24% of customers are aware of what climate actions businesses are taking. 62% don’t trust businesses to do what they promise1.

By following the actions in BITC’s Seven Steps for Climate Action toolkit businesses can invest in our planet and rebuild public trust. Time and effort must be spent now to embed climate risks and opportunities into business strategies and create a plan to reach net zero as close to 2030 as possible.

Developing the right skills for a just transition

To get there, businesses need to quickly get to grips with the skills needed for the net-zero transition and invest in their people. This includes upskilling and reskilling existing employees. It also means updating people strategies and processes to recruit and retain people with the right knowledge, capabilities, and attributes. Building the skills for a fair and inclusive transition can also help reduce inequalities, improve health and wellbeing, and boost productivity. Investing in skills for a net-zero, resilient future is the way to begin to tackle multiple and pressing challenges.

BITC members can log in to MyBITC to read our What skills are needed to support the net-zero transition? factsheet. It discusses new research into what skills are needed for a just transition, as well as the next steps for responsible businesses.

Involve diverse stakeholders

Alongside this, businesses should invest in creating their transition plans with diverse stakeholders. These should include employees and customers, academics and activists, public and voluntary sectors, and people in the communities they operate. Not only is this needed to transition our energy system and build resilience in a fair way, it’s a prerequisite for embedding circular economy practices.

Read Maya de Souza, Circular Economy Campaign Director at BITC’s recent blog on the circular economy journey to net zero.

The new business models, ways of working, and projects that arise must-see nature as a stakeholder too, recognising it as an ally in building resilience to climate extremes. Investing wisely and thoughtfully to help nature thrive will shore up your investments in people and energy-efficient processes, storing carbon and creating more resilient natural systems.

Build public trust through accessible and transparent reporting

Finally, to regain public trust and retain their right to operate, businesses need to report progress rigorously and transparently, learning and adjusting as they go. Reporting in an accessible and transparent way will build trust with the public sceptical of greenwashing. These steps underpin our work to bring about a just transition, a fair and inclusive journey to a net-zero, resilient future where people and nature thrive.

The return on investing in our planet is diversity and inclusion, health and wellbeing, and a planet that continues to astonish us with its resilience, biodiversity, and capacity to support life.

Next steps

If you are a BITC member or non-business stakeholder, ask to join our virtual skills innovation sprints.

Contact BITC’s Environment Team if you are interested in joining these events.

If your business is not yet a member, join our network innovating to sustain and repair our planet.

About the author

Jessica Rose, Campaign Manager, Environment leads BITC’s work to ensure a just transition to a net-zero, resilient future where people and nature thrive. She previously ran employment and skills campaigns including Ban the Box, essential skills and good work for all.

TURN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING HUMANITY INTO ITS GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT

References

  1. Figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2007 adults for the business survey and 8026 adults for the public survey. Fieldwork for the business survey was undertaken between 28 September – 11 October 2021 and for the public survey was undertaken between the 10 and 21 September 2021. The survey was carried out online. Both sets of figures have been weighted and are representative of Senior Decision Makers (business survey) and all UK adults over 18.