A new report has been published in a bid to get companies thinking about the benefits of adopting Net Positive principles.

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A Net Positive movement will drive a restorative economy, which aligns with restoring clean air, fisheries, forests, and rivers, says WWF.

It says these principles can help create “long-term success in the face of growing social and environmental pressures”.

Net Positive: A New Way of Doing Business – produced by Forum for the Future, The Climate Group and WWF-UK – explores and explains, for the first time, what it actually means to take a Net Positive approach to business, offering a ‘route map’ for businesses looking to engage with the concept.

It urges businesses to change from ‘doing less harm’ to having a positive impact on the world.

The report argues that a Net Positive approach – where businesses demonstrate positive environmental or societal impacts in key areas of their operations – creates competitive advantage, supply security and the space to innovate products and services “through moving the organisation into a leadership space”.

Companies pinning themselves to the Net Posititve approach include BT, Capgemini, Coca-Cola Enterprises, The Crown Estate, IKEA Group, Kingfisher and SKF.

Leaders from these businesses helped shape the report by sharing their experiences and helping to define the principles of a Net Positive approach.

According to the report, a Net Positive approach can “make a positive, demonstrable impact in key material areas” and to “show best practice in corporate responsibility and sustainability across the spectrum of social, environmental and economic impact areas”. A Net Positive organization should also invest in “innovation in products and services”, “work across the value chain” and “in some cases could challenge the very business models it relies on”.

The report is also clear that “no aspect of a Net Positive approach compensates for unacceptable natural losses or ill treatment of individuals or communities”.

“The term ‘Net Positive’ is not new itself but has never been properly defined, leading to it being dismissed in some quarters as repackaged CSR,” said Forum for the Future’s CEO Sally Uren.

“We hope that the principles outlined in this report will help to bring clarity and push the agenda forward. Companies taking brave steps towards being Net Positive are already reaping the benefits in terms of securing the supply of resources they rely on, investing in radical innovation and shaping their operating context.

“We look forward to welcoming other companies that wish to leave behind damage control, and move towards making a positive contribution to our planet. They will be the success stories of the future.”

The report includes a number of case studies of businesses already seeing “huge benefits” from Net Positive approaches.

With a big focus on timber, Kingfisher – the world’s third largest home improvement retail group – is reforesting degraded land, enhance the quality of standing forests and actively advocating for policy changes. It says it will save between £45m and £60m a year by 2020 though its restorative approach to timber sourcing.

IKEA Group’s strategy includes commitments to produce as much renewable energy as the total energy used in its buildings by 2020, and to work with partners to significantly expand forest areas certified to the Forestry Stewardship Council standard.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Enterprises is looking to recycle more packaging than it uses.

Dax Lovegrove, Head of Business Sustainability & innovation at WWF-UK said: “A Net Positive movement will drive a restorative economy – an economy that aligns with restoring clean air, fisheries, forests, rivers and many other of the planet’s assets that have been lost in recent decades due to the current model of unfettered growth.”

The 12 principles of ‘Net Positive’ are:

  1. The organisation aims to make a positive impact in its key material areas.

  2. The positive impact is clearly demonstrable if not measurable.

  3. As well as aiming to have a positive impact in its key material areas, the organisation also shows best practice in corporate responsibility and sustainability across the spectrum of social, environmental and economic impact areas, in line with globally accepted standards.

  4. The organisation invests in innovation in products and services, enters new markets, works across the value chain, and in some cases, challenges the very business model it relies on

  5. A Net Positive impact often requires a big shift in approach and outcomes, and cannot be achieved by business-as-usual.

  6. Reporting on progress is transparent, consistent, authentic and independently verified where possible. Boundaries and scope are clearly defined and take account of both positive and negative impacts. Any trade-offs are explained.

  7. Net Positive is delivered in a robust way and no aspect of a Net Positive approach compensates for unacceptable or irreplaceable natural losses or ill treatment of individuals and communities.

  8. Organisations enter into wider partnerships and networks to create bigger positive impacts .

  9. Every opportunity is used to deliver positive impacts across value chains, sectors, systems, and throughput to the natural world and society.

  10. Organisations publicly engage in influencing policy for positive change.

  11. Where key material areas are ecological, robust environmentally restorative and socially inclusive methods are applied.

  12. An inclusive approach is adopted at every opportunity, ensuring affected communities are involved in the process of creating positive social and/or environmental impacts.

To download the report visit the (Climate Group website) [www.theclimategroup.org].