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Walking the Talk
New Research Calls for Less Talk, More Action to #MoveTheDate

Today, August 1, marks our earliest yet Earth Overshoot Day — the day humanity has used nature’s resource budget for the year — since its establishment in 1987.

Despite increasing awareness of our planetary boundaries and social thresholds, we’ve not only not managed to reverse it, we’re making it worse.

So, are businesses holding themselves accountable? London-based sustainability consultancy Article 13’s latest annual sustainability practitioner research, released today, examined what 200 big companies are measuring and reporting, and the targets they are setting, for the past three years. They also conducted over 100 interviews with leading sustainability practitioners.

Among the findings:

  • There’s plenty of measuring going on, but targets are lacking
  • 57 percent of targets are set for 2020
  • Continued increase in activity for high-profile topics such as climate (carbon and energy), pollution (and waste), water and gender equality
  • No evidence of any targets set against the ocean acidification boundary or political voice threshold
  • Despite wider adoption of the SDGs for reporting, the study found few companies setting targets and measures for access to health, food and housing

More action on corporate commitments is needed to help reverse the Earth Overshoot Date.

On the plus side, the study saw the start of a shift, from seeing planetary boundaries and social thresholds as a risk, to viewing them as an opportunity for future business value. Focusing on these opportunities with emergent generations is a powerful way to address the dangerous direction of Earth Overshoot Day.

With this in mind and a 2030 focus required for corporate target-setting, Article 13 also asked Gen Z — arguably the most important generation of planetary stewards — what they thought, introducing them to the real science and social economics behind our planet’s dwindling resources and the potential consequences they might be facing in 2030.


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