APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
CEF will support a robust visioning and action-planning process with the goal of assembling, for announcement at Rio+20, a globally significant set of commitments to action from the business community. In their aggregate, these commitments will powerfully demonstrate the economic logic of ramping up investments to safeguard critical natural infrastructure around the world, focusing on key forest, freshwater and marine systems that produce goods and services pivotal to long-term business continuity and global economic growth. CEF envisions commitments from individual companies, groups of companies, and multi-stakeholder collaborations involving companies, governments and NGOs. The overarching goal is not only to galvanize much-needed action in the short-term: more importantly, it is to draw unprecedented attention to the business imperative of protecting natural infrastructure and thereby trigger exponentially greater levels of investment and catalytic action worldwide. Throughout the effort, CEF will conduct outreach and engagement efforts to ensure that its efforts are not duplicative, and where appropriate, leverage existing efforts to maximize impact.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
- By 2011 CGI Annual Meeting: Establish the founding 'Leaders Circle,' comprised of a select and diverse group of some of the world's most powerful companies and respected ecosystem experts, who pledge to make a significant (specific, measurable and new) commitment to action, either alone or in partnership, by Rio+20 and who help steer this overall effort. The Leaders' Circle will play a key role in defining a statement on the business logic of investing in nature, and will seek to define measurable and verifiable targets for their collective action that will serve as best practice models and inspiration for additional commitments across industries.
-September 21-22, 2011: CEF will moderate a structured networking session at the CGI Annual Meeting focused on Rio +20 and attend small group discussion on the business logic of investing in natural infrastructure, led by The Nature Conservancy.
- By October 14 2011: Produce first draft outline of a major statement on the 'business logic of investing in nature' to be issued by CEF at Rio+20. The outline will summarize (in layperson's terms and the language of business) key categories of business and economic benefits that various natural systems provide - backed by real-world examples that underscore the importance to business. It will be used to help seed commitment ideas among interested CEF and CGI members, and eventually be expanded for release as part of the communications strategy at Rio+20 when commitments are announced.
- By October 29, 2011: Conduct a survey of potential commitment makers to identify their top areas of interest so CEF and CGI can more effectively catalyze and broker commitments. CEF will focus on brokering commitments from CEF member companies:
3M, Abbott Laboratories, Air Products, Alcoa, American Express, ArcelorMittal, AT&T, Aviva, Avon, Bayer, BP, Cargill, CA Technologies, CH2M Hill, Chevron, Cisco, The Clorox Company, Coca-Cola, Darden Restaurants, Dell, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, Dow Chemical, Duke Energy, Eastman Kodak, Ecolab, Enterprise Holdings, Ernst & Young, FedEx, Fidelity Investments, Ford Motor, Gamesa, GE, General Motors, Google, Grubb & Ellis, Hanesbrands, IBM, Ingersoll Rand, International Paper, Intuit, Johnson & Johnson, Kaiser Permanente, , Kohl's, KPMG, LANXESS, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions, News Corporation, Nike, Northrop Grumman, Oracle, PG&E, Procter & Gamble, Sabre, Sanmina-SCI, SAP, Siemens, Sodexo, Sony Pictures, Spectra Energy, SunGard, Swiss Re, Sybase, Symantec, Tata Consultancy Services, Tiffany & Co., TPG Capital, Transocean, Unilever, US Postal Service, Veolia Water, Walt Disney, Waste Management, Wells Fargo, Weyerhaeuser,
- November 11-12 2011: Invite participants from India's top 100 companies at 'CEF India' in Delhi to participate in in Rio+20 commitment development dialogue.
- November 2011- February 2011: Convene several 'dream commitment' brainstorming meetings among top subject matter experts on various focused ecosystem topics and senior executives (from CEF and CGI membership) to drive next-practice commitments focused on key forest, freshwater and marine systems that produce goods and services pivotal to long-term business continuity and global economic growth.
- February-May 2012: Finalize commitment development process and Rio+20 communications strategy.
- June 2012: Hold an event at Rio+20 (likely a panel of eminent experts and CEOs along with a press conference) to announce the 'Business Logic of Investing in Natural Systems' statement and the commitments.
- June 2012-September 2012: Work with CGI, as needed, on integrating lessons and engaging companies from our process into planning for CGI 2012 Annual Meeting
- September 2012: Provide detailed update on implementation of commitments since Rio+20
Since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, foundations and NGOs around the world have collectively spent a staggering amount of resources trying to convince citizens, government officials, and business leaders of the importance of protecting 'the environment.' Despite heroic efforts and some modest gains, the overall returns on those investments have been poor: all signs point to a continued deterioration of most of Earth's natural systems that are crucial to long-term human health, security, and economic stability. Indeed, two-thirds of our planet's land and water ecosystems-the planet's 'natural infrastructure' that invisibly yet incredibly generates an estimated $33-72 trillion annually in 'free' goods and services-are degraded, with runaway climate change only exacerbating the damage (Costanza et al., 1997).
At risk are the very critical life-support systems that enable human civilization to flourish and serve as the lifeblood of the global economy. These natural systems, thanks to over four billion years of planetary R&D, outcompete any manmade technology in their capacity to produce-at scale and affordably-the goods and services booming populations around the world need to survive and an expanding global economy needs to thrive. Without charge, they purify the precious drinking water we need to survive; generate abundant raw materials integral to manufacturing and commerce; replenish soil so we can keep growing healthy food to feed billions; produce a plentiful supply of protein-rich seafood to match growing demand; buffer us and our property from potentially lethal floods, fires and extreme weather events; provide barriers to the spread of disease and invasive species; give us awe-inspiring destinations to which people (and tourist dollars) flock; and house a treasure trove of biological diversity that fuels the discovery of life-saving drugs and other scientific breakthroughs.
In short, these systems are priceless. Literally. And that, in fact, is the problem.
Having developed habits of taking 'nature' for granted, we have taken from it for free, drawing down Earth's natural capital and mismanaging natural assets as if they were endlessly renewable. Yet even this planet's remarkable natural systems-unique in the known universe and incredibly resilient-cannot sustain damage beyond certain thresholds. Eventually they break down. Only then does the market begin to understand the full economic value of what we have lost, as what were once dismissed academically as 'externalities' suddenly become real, costly burdens.
How much is our current mismanagement of natural assets costing the global economy today? According to a study by the UN Environment Program, the most recent estimates are $6.6 trillion a year-the equivalent of 11% of global GDP-world-through contamination of water supplies, the loss of fertile land through soil erosion and drought, and supply chain disruptions due to deforestation and overfishing. Projected damages could skyrocket to $28 trillion by 2050 under business as usual, which would eclipse the economic damages expected from climate change. However sobering the numbers, in the abstract they are merely statistics affecting 'someone else' and therefore still largely off of most government and business leaders' valuation radar screens. But the costs hit home when ecosystem degradation translates into lost lives or illness, when people's homes are destroyed or jobs are lost, when scarcities bring supply chain to a grinding halt or help push a business into bankruptcy, when resource inequalities fuel civil unrest and migration, or when preventable damages from natural disasters overwhelm the budgets of insurers and governments.
It is often not until such scenarios play out, however, that the lesson becomes clear: that investments in protecting the 'environment' are, quite simply, mandatory long-term investments to ensure continued opportunities and prosperity for our citizens, communities, businesses, and entire countries-not simply philanthropic acts to preserve beautiful places or charismatic animals.
Just as we must invest in safeguarding and maintaining our critical human-built infrastructure-whether roads, bridges, skyscrapers, power plants or orbiting satellites-so too must we be vigilant in maintaining and protecting our natural infrastructure to avoid disruptions, crippling long-term costs, or even disaster. Yet until a critical mass of leaders and influencers grasp the greater economic value and strategic importance of 'environment'-and take appropriate actions that, in effect, 'price the priceless-we will continue to squander our collective wealth and run up the bill of damages for future generations.
The June 2012 gathering of world leaders for the 20th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit (Rio+20) offers an extraordinary opportunity to help a critical mass of global influencers grasp the true economic value of our planet's natural assets and infrastructure, and to motivate significant global action. The Corporate Eco Forum, a membership organization of 80 predominantly Global 500 firms with combined assets of over $3 trillion, is uniquely positioned to seize this opportunity by creating an action platform that will provide a bridge between the world's leading ecosystem experts and the most powerful and influential companies, to produce groundbreaking new efforts that value and protect global natural systems on an unprecedented scale.
A founding 'Leaders' Circle' will be established to help steer this effort, and to galvanize action from the wider business community. The Leaders' Circle will leverage relationships with leading NGOs that have ecosystems expertise. Founding corporate members of the Leaders' Circle have been selected to represent diverse industries and markets and include Hewlett Packard, CA Technologies, Kimberly Clark, and Xerox.