Regulations as part of the EU taxonomy such as the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) or the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) require companies to develop sustainable solutions and communicate their actions transparently. Additionally, many employees and managers are intrinsically motivated to make a difference. However, numerous people still need clarification about what sustainability and sustainable actions mean regarding their specific domain.
„Sustainability means first of all making things less bad.”
Marcel Rößner, consultant for strategic business development, agile coaching, and sustainability, argues that currently, a lot of actions are purely reactive. Many consider sustainability only as a strategy for reducing or avoiding damage or optimizing the efficiency of existing systems. This thinking usually leads only to incremental improvement of what already exists, rather than addressing problems at a systemic level. However, a broader view must be taken to effectively deal with the acute socio-ecological crises.
„The most sustainable approach would be not to produce a product at all.”
In a tunnel vision of minimising degenerative effects, materials, supply chains and energy supply are optimised for the highest possible efficiency. However, the challenge of making each product sustainable individually seems almost impossible in this context. Sustainability must become part of the corporate DNA and not just an additional requirement in product development. It not only matters how we manufacture products, but also what value the product creates in its environment. It is, therefore, more than just the existing systems that need to be optimized. We also need to rethink the business models, the value chains and the product strategies.
From this viewpoint, sustainability with emission reduction and damage avoidance is not the end of the journey.
Just as we once no longer understood the earth as the centre of the universe, in the future we will no longer understand humans as the centre of the global systems.
We now realize how important planetary health is for our existence and how climate change, species extinction, and other environmental and societal issues affect our lives. It is becoming increasingly clear that sustainable conservation and social coexistence are crucial to our well-being and that of future generations.
„Regenerative businesses are designed to create positivity from the ground up and improve their surroundings through their corporate actions.”
The solution to planetary problems doesn't have to be economic downsizing and degrowth - Businesses can contribute to a desirable future by addressing not only the needs of their customers, but also those of our socio-ecological environment. This change will require new skills, innovation, and courage.
We see the approach for regenerative companies as a challenging but motivating vision to harmonize the economy, society, and ecology. When products are viewed holistically in their systemic context, including the company's purpose, a broad horizon of new possibilities for corporate and product development opens up.
We look forward to working with Marcel over the next few weeks to develop solutions for regenerative businesses. Many thanks to Marcel Rößner for the inspiring discussion!
The ideas around the topic of regeneration are constantly evolving. It will be crucial to support established companies to evolve their product portfolios and corporate structures with regard to their regenerative potential. Important questions that arise along the way are:
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