The Sustainability Imperative

As organizations struggle to define a strategy that balances purpose and profit, opportunities are increasingly emerging to take the lead in sustainability initiatives. Front-line advances in areas such as net-zero emissions, AI-powered solutions for the underserved, precision agriculture, digital healthcare, and more are delivering business benefits, while simultaneously contributing to the realization of the UN’s 17 SDGs. We provide the expert thinking, debate, and guidance to help your organization reposition and transform in the era of sustainability.

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As we explore in this Advisor, businesses can respond to biodiversity loss by laying out an enabling environment for various partnerships where trust, reputation, and stakeholder engagement are foundational.
Most of us are familiar with the “net zero” concept; we now have “nature positive” added to the mix. This Advisor digs into the meaning of the concept and reminds us that the way nature positive is defined will have significant influence on how businesses address their nature-related activities.
Rob Campbell-Watt explores the Gulf Coast in Louisiana and highlights a set of co-benefits resulting from restoring coastal wetlands. In this case, a restoration effort becomes a nature-based solution that in turn becomes a carbon offset, achieving a positive ROI. Campbell-Watt lays out the reasons coastal restoration is a sound investment and shows how, with verification and measurement, the investment can turn a profit by being monetized as an offset.
Christine J. Miller, Benjamin J. Langey, and Scott E. Bush take innovation to the broken places on planet Earth by showing the opportunities for collaboration when endangered species colonize ecosystems on contaminated lands. Protected status need not be an obstacle to development if stakeholders engage in honest dialogue and science supports proposed interventions.
A group of authors from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute explore the idea of science-informed nature action in more depth. Jessica L. Deichmann et al. use compelling case studies from the cutting edge of the Smithsonian’s conservation research to show how problems that impact nature across the lifecycle of a development project can be solved.
Kate Mitchell introduces readers to the Detroit Tree Equity Partnership (DTEP) led by DTE, the energy company that serves electricity to 2.2 million customers in Michigan. DTEP brought DTE and its partners together with a goal to plant 75,000 trees across the city, delivering co-benefits like training 300 Detroiters as urban foresters, storing 152,000 pounds of carbon, absorbing 303 million gallons of stormwater, and saving Detroit residents US $12 million in energy costs.
When it comes to nature, much business action will be beyond compliance and done for reasons that support the bottom line but do not drive it. To overcome these conditions, business must adopt a strategy for nature: aligning corporate ambitions with place-based action that is both stakeholder-informed and fully resourced. Sara Cook provides examples from GM, Holcim, WM (formerly Lafarge), Owens Corning, CEMEX, and others that show the importance of developing a nature-based strategy, providing the toolkits to make it happen, and ensuring sustainability of engagement through management, monitoring, and intersections with community needs and priorities. By identifying these intersections, corporate nature action can deliver multiple co-benefits.
This issue is the second in a two-part Amplify series on nature and private enterprise. Part I focused on policy and introduced the concept of nature positivity and the frameworks that support it. This issue explores practice — because at the end of the day, it is the practice of place-based action that will deliver a nature positive future.