This morning at SB’16 San Diego, BSR and Forum for the Future launched the Net Positive Project, a cross-sector coalition that aims to expand the number of companies that go beyond reducing their negative sustainability impacts to contribute in a “net positive” way to society, the environment, and the global economy.
BSR and Forum for the Future are collaborating on the Net Positive Project with Gregory A. Norris, who co-directs the Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise (SHINE), based at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
While the momentum around net positive is growing, there are currently no commonly accepted ways for companies to measure and report on net positive claims, and there’s a risk that companies will invest in redundant, fragmented, or misaligned approaches. The Net Positive Project will fill that gap by developing practices and tools companies can use to quantify, assess, communicate, and enhance their positive impacts on society and the environment.
“The Net Positive Project will provide guidance to companies in continually reducing their negative impacts or footprints, and it will give them support and direction in taking a restorative, generative path that intentionally grows the positive impacts or handprints that they create,” Norris said. “It will also advance the movement as a whole by providing an approach that is fact-based, transparent, and collaborative.”
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During its first year, the Net Positive Project will focus on three main initiatives:
“The Net Positive Project will create a race to the top by increasing companies’ sustainability ambition to have a positive impact on society and the environment,” said Forum for the Future CEO Sally Uren. “It will also help companies enhance their approach to innovation and strategy, brand and reputation, and relationships with stakeholders, while it increases sales and financial success.”
Founding company members of the Net Positive Project are: Advanced Micro Devices Inc., AT&T, Capgemini UK Plc., The Crown Estate, Dell Inc., Dow Chemical Company, Eaton Corporation Plc., Fetzer Vineyards, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, Humanscale, Kimberly-Clark, Kingfisher Plc., Kohler Co. and Owens Corning.
Charlene Lake, Chief Sustainability Officer and SVP of CSR at AT&T, said: “Our strategic platform, Connect to Good, represents our company’s vision of using the power of our network to build a better tomorrow. For example, we know that our technology can help customers reduce their carbon footprint. That’s why we’ve set a goal to enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of our operations by 2025 by enhancing the efficiency of our network and delivering sustainable customer solutions. We’ll be working with the Net Positive Project and others to measure and meet this goal.”
The Net Positive Project integrates insights from ongoing efforts, including:
- The Net Positive Group, convened in 2013 by Forum for the Future, WWF and The Climate Group, which developed a set of 12 net positive principles and guidance on how to measure and communicate the concept.
- BSR’s Center for Technology and Sustainability, a cross-sector initiative that brings together the users and developers of technology to jointly study sustainability impacts and scale solutions.
- Norris’s experience with Harvard’s SHINE initiative, which works collaboratively with members to advance methods for net positive assessment based on life-cycle assessments and handprinting, integrating impacts related to the environment, health, society, and well-being.
“By combining their efforts to create the Net Positive Project, these organizations are creating a collaborative that will promote restorative efforts,” said John Pflueger, Principal Environmental Strategist at Dell. “We look forward to working with them and our peers to develop net positive into a meaningful and credible movement that drives social and environmental good.”