Earth Day 2022
With the aim of having a positive and meaningful impact in all she does, Chess is an environmentalist, concerned global citizen and accomplished activist within her local community.
For Earth Day 2022 she reflects on attending the edie Sustainable Leaders Forum as an Arctic Angel.
I have always had a long fascination with the etymology of words and how they come to be. "Invest" is one such word.
To me, it's curious that in the context of individuals or communities, investing has so many positive connotations - the words flourish and prosper come to mind. Yet, in the business sense, it's usually associated with personal gain and profit, terms that are so closely linked with accumulation, exploitation and the destruction of our shared home. (I don't think it's a coincidence that the word "investing" in this business context is thought to come from a special use of Italian "investire", a word that now also means to knock, hit and crash - words so closely associated with destruction). When I heard that "Investing in our Planet" was the theme for Earth Day 2022, I felt this was the perfect opportunity to reflect on my experience at the edie Sustainability Leaders Forum at the beginning of March and to consider the paradigm shift that many feel is happening in business. I was thrilled to represent Global Choices as an Arctic Angel and to have been asked to speak at the summit, which brings together everyone from business leaders and policymakers to NGOs, on the subject of the topic of young leaders shaping the future of sustainable business (I summarised the key points I hoped to convey in this short piece here!)
For two days, over 600 of us listened, learned, networked and workshopped all with the common goal of building an understanding of how business is being transformed for good. We heard from new businesses built around purpose, as well as older established global giants who are retrofitting purpose back into the heart of their operations. It was invigorating to be in a room full of people who understood to their core that the needle is shifting. While our definition of what business does and sets out to achieve is changing, so is our understanding of investment and the potential it has for positive transformation. Time and time again, everyone from employees to CEOs demonstrated their understanding of the need for collaboration, inclusion, purpose, regeneration and empowerment. Individuals spoke of leading from the heart, thinking with empathy and compassion and new visions for the future. The live artwork capturing the event demonstrates this so well...
Together we saw and heard how businesses are helping serve the environments they inhabit and strive to put the planet’s needs first, how they're taking into consideration the impact (on humans and nature) of every process and how they're acting, not to just minimise harm, but where possible, to have a net positive impact. We saw how businesses are maximising their opportunities to build strong, resilient, skilled communities and also to use their status to lobby for changes at a higher level that will ultimately contribute to building a better world for all. This feels like a far cry from discussions and terminology of old - stakeholders, return on investment, resources, capital, shares. And while clearly not every business is on this path, there is a swell of businesses that are trying to do things differently. To them, investing in business means benefits for everyone and everything. Business can be a force for good, just as investing will come to mean prosperity, ingenuity and imagination. There's a new understanding that collectively, we are an ecosystem... of individuals, communities, businesses and governments. We're the strands of a rope being weaved together in order to co-create and imagine a better world. As Earth Day describe it, we must build a partnership for the planet, so that everyone, everywhere, everyday has the opportunity to flourish and prosper. "For Earth Day 2022, together, for everyone, everything, every day… #InvestInOurPlanet"