Businesses have often taken our planetary ecosystems for granted. But our planetary systems cannot keep up with mankind’s demands on its resources. Some companies are now stewarding the environment due to their recognition of the interdependencies of human and planet.

A UN-backed report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services that was compiled by 145 authors from 50 countries was released in May. By tracking the relationship between economic development and planetary impact over the past 50 years here’s what was found:

  1. almost 75% of the world’s freshwater is used for agriculture and livestock
  2. 60 billion tons of water are extracted every year
  3. Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992 at the expense of forest and wetlands
  4. 400 dead zones in the oceans now exist due to fertilizer runoff
  5. by 2050 when the world’s population is projected to be 9.8 billion, 75% and more than half of the oceans will have been “significantly altered”
“A critical message from the report is that nature fares better when the people most connected to that nature—those living within it—are supported as the primary stewards,” said Doreen Robinson, wildlife expert at UN Environment. “When people benefit from biodiversity they protect it.”

Stewarding the environment while doing business requires a system-wide rethinking and reorganization across technological, economic and social realms so that nature can be restored and preserved. Business needs to protect planet systems while creating products and services. The balance between development and conservation will be key.

We enable change leadership. Sustainability is an area where we see leaders grappling with starting and/or sustaining efforts. Get in touch if your company needs a journey partner to help you define and address broader impacts.

Want to learn more? Check out the UN environment website.

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