Not just a business school, but a school of ideas!

When it comes to the environment, the science and facts are black and white: we keep trashing the place! But when it comes to what we are going to do about it that is where it gets very complicated. Let me ask you a question:

Do you care about nature?  

It’s a simple question and most of you will probably say yes. Only the most hard-core city lovers don’t like a good park or brilliant views in the countryside. But when you had your breakfast this morning, when you ate that bacon or drank that milk, when you turned on that light bulb or used that gas hob, put on your leather shoes and left your centrally-heated home, you probably didn’t think about it. I know I don’t most mornings, although I try to be as conservative as I can about electricity when I remember. 

Because as many of the speakers at the business school pointed out, that’s the problem. In your day to day life, nature is not your priority because we are just so busy. Changing your lifestyle is difficult and the impact of one person changing does not seem worth it. In the grand scheme of things, I think being closer to nature is good for our health and wellbeing but from one day to the next, we lose sight of that and continue blundering along like we always have. 
That’s where businesses come in. If we are going to preserve our natural environment, if we are going to reduce the loss in biodiversity and reverse climate change, that change has to come at a societal level, not an individual one. I think many businesses don’t see themselves as a part of society, but they are. Millions of people work in them, billions of pounds flow between them. They are the engine that drives our society that directs where we go. We listen to business. When Bill Gates told us personal computers were the next big thing, we all went mad for it and bought one. It revolutionised the modern world. Mobile phones, cars, you could come up with a million more examples. 

Whether the CEOs like it or not, they are at the core of our society with the wealth and influence to fix everything. They understand why we do what we do and what is important to us, that is good business. So it was very inspiring to hear at the Valuing Nature BIS the work some businesses are now doing to try and improve their relationship with nature so they don’t just destroy it. Whether it be small things like bat boxes or larger things like natural flood defences, or investing money in climate research or renewable energies, there is a growing pattern of wanting to do more and understanding the benefits. 

Perhaps I am naïve but it’s very encouraging to see an upward trend in businesses wanting to do more, even competing with each other. Maybe that is the way forward. Businesses thrive on competition, so let’s set targets for them. Offer awards for the most eco-friendly company; or prizes for the best renewable technology innovation. Set up league tables so people can see how good their favourite phone companies are and give contracts to builders based on their commitments to nature. I think this might be a good way to go and I know it won’t be easy. There are so many great ideas out there and I want to thank the Valuing Nature BIS for opening my eyes to a better future. 

However, one important question remains. The most important one of all:

Will you help too?