QUICK READ: Regenerative development addresses the challenge of going beyond sustainability.
By Atty. Allan V. Barcena | Business Mirror
The reality of climate change can no longer be flatly denied when its adverse impacts continue to be staggeringly felt across all nations and societies. In the Philippines, one need not look far than the perennial super typhoons we have been experiencing in the past decade alone, which are clear manifestations of the consequences of global warming. The devastation wrought upon individuals, communities, and businesses is not only immense but getting worse each and every time.
The effects of natural disasters on the economy are what the private sector is called upon to address and mitigate in particular. According to the World Economic Forum global risk perception survey, issues such as extreme weather events, major natural catastrophes, and ineffective climate change adaptation strategies have topped the list of concerns among businesses.
To be fair, this is how sustainability has become the most prevalent corporate buzzword in the past few years. Companies have been making great strides in pivoting toward the tenet of the “triple bottom line” or “people, planet, and profit,” primarily by adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) prescribed by the United Nations.
Almost half of the 17 UN SDGs concern nature and the environment, and these have been serving as great tools for companies to understand the issues of climate change and to see how they can contribute toward these goals. They form an integral part of the now commonly utilized format of sustainability reporting, which helps set a company’s sustainability agenda more clearly. Global consultancy and auditing firm KPMG says that as much as 67% of companies worldwide are now utilizing sustainability reporting.
However, a gap is emerging between the sustainability goals companies identify as relevant to their operations and their actual business goals. Just as the SDGs present themselves as a convenient checklist of aspects of sustainability, there is an ever-present danger of being confined to just that—compliance with the usual sustainability measures without genuine impact in reality.
More than just doing no harm to the environment, the bigger task is to ensure that future generations thrive with more abundant resources. Environmental conservation may not be enough as it is believed that we are consuming resources equivalent to 1.75 Earths every year. This is where regenerative development comes in to address the challenge of going beyond sustainability.
As the term implies, regenerative development seeks to ensure that resources are continuously made available and even made more abundant as much as possible for future generations. It may mean discovering new supply sources or innovating on processes and technologies. It may demand certain shifts in the way we have been used to doing things. Regenerative thinking asks how we can create more value in a unified and inclusive manner, ensuring that we elevate all stakeholders and improve all aspects of human living.
In marketing communications and public relations, regenerative development also helps achieve more genuine and impactful reputation management. It serves as a better tool in achieving brand authenticity and avoiding the ever-present danger of “greenwashing.” Sustainability should precisely be incorporated in the way a company operates and not just in what it offers, and a regenerative model helps ensure that an organization’s vision is aligned with its mission—its day-to-day tasks and basic operations.
Regenerative development also inspires a more proactive stance in terms of producing more positive outcomes. More than just reporting numbers as a factor of avoidance or prudent use, it challenges companies to redefine value in terms of creation and innovation. It demands a more optimistic mindset of ensuring abundance rather than a pessimistic stance of scarcity and competition.
Last not but least, as an inclusive mindset, regenerative development naturally leads to collaborations and partnerships. As companies are forced to take a hard look at the individuals, communities, and sectors that it affects, these stakeholders are no longer nameless faces but active participants in creating shared value. This is one way how a regenerative mindset can be ingrained in business operations so that we do not fall prey to lip service or “greenwashing.”
The author is corporate social responsibility and public relations head of Energy Development Corporation. This piece is based on his talk during the 27th National PR Congress organized by the Public Relations Society of the Philippines last February.
The Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is a pioneer in generating 100% clean, renewable, and reliable power as an electricity supplier in the Philippines for over 40 years. With power plants all over Visayas and Mindanao, the company is one of the biggest producers of geothermal energy in Asia and is expanding its reach in the international market, allowing it to offer customers affordable energy rates. EDC also strives to provide the best customer service it can to all its clients by having helpful salespeople and easy to understand contracts. Because of all of this, it is poised to become the premier supplier of electricity for the Philippines’ Green Energy Option Program. EDC takes its mission as a renewable energy provider seriously and goes beyond sustainability by investing in programs that enhance the environment and empower its partner communities, thereby fostering regenerative development. The company has also been working toward being carbon-neutral by improving its energy efficiency, as well as implementing various greening projects to ensure that its mission to provide future generations with a better life remains intact.