While organisations today are placing more value on implementing an environmental policy, creating one that is succinct, compelling, and communicates your business’s environmental commitment (in relation to its values and operations) can feel intimidating with (metric) tonnes of terminology to wrap one’s head around; in many ways, it’s like building a house.
Driveway renovations, the colours you paint your garage with, and the health of your garden may help turn heads in your neighbourhood, but quality materials and solid construction are prerequisites for being able to furnish your home in a way that expresses your values and style.
It's the same in the world of environmental policy - unless you establish a robust foundation and structure, it's a fragile endeavour; and if it crumbles, repairing the damages will be costly (both financially and mentally).
Essentially, just as the type of house you build and the furnishings you select communicate personal style, the environmental policy you create communicates your professional values. So, let's start building – your organisation's environmental foundations.
What On Earth Is An Environmental Policy?
Imagine trying to build your dream home. For you to begin building, let alone complete it, there are certain criteria you must abide by; a blueprint will mandate things such as the securing of permits, adherence to certain building and zoning codes, and other approvals.
Moreover, this blueprint will consider each element of your house, from outdoor areas to common living spaces and bedrooms, as well as bathrooms. Everything should be thoughtfully planned and designed to realise your vision.
Similarly, in the corporate world, environmental policy acts as a framework to encourage responsible resource management, incentivize waste and carbon footprint reduction, promote efficient energy management, and foster a ground-up culture of sustainability within your company’s DNA - these elements are vital to form and develop a robust environmental policy.
For instance, by 2030, Apple aims to use 100% renewable electricity for all of its production and Google is pursuing net-zero emissions across its operations and value chain.
In a nutshell, this is the gist of environmental policy. It is a set of rules and plans that companies put in place to protect our shared "home."
Why Should Your Organization Care?
Many businesses conduct their operations without sufficient regard for the environment, and this is placing Earth on a path to becoming uninhabitable. Human activities are causing a warming climate, biodiversity loss, and the transgression of planetary boundaries, which is negatively impacting the regulatory Earth systems that keep our planet hospitable to life.
Additionally, the world is more inclined to care about environmental responsibility with Generation Z (Gen Z) leading the charge; here is some food for thought:
According to Harvard Business Review, 80% of studies show that positive stock price performance is correlated with sustainable business practices
According to Forbes, 88% of consumers will be more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues
According to Deloitte, 49% of companies are developing new climate-friendly products or services
These are just a few intriguing statistics to illustrate the value of incorporating sustainability in your business practices. With 76% of Gen Z saying that climate change is one of their biggest concerns, and this demographic being slated to make up more than 25% of the workforce by 2025 Organisations who act sustainably now can ultimately future-proof their business.
In the UAE, with COP28 on the horizon, the need for organisations to establish environmental policies will undeniably be an emphasised topic of conversation, so let’s dive into how your company can go about doing so - if you’re ready to take a sustainable leap into the future.
How Do You Establish An Environmental Policy?
Many solutions exist but it’s important to pick one that fits your company and business model.
Fossil fuel-free energy, nature-based solutions, and science-based target initiatives (SBTi) - a framework that defines and promotes best practices in emissions reduction and net-zero targets in line with climate science - provide a pathway for companies to reduce their CO2 emissions and contribute to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, the legally binding international treaty on climate change. Calculating a baseline footprint is a crucial step in enabling your company to set SBTi.
To target emission reductions, your company must first measure its carbon footprint. This can be done through the GHG (greenhouse gases) Protocol, a corporate carbon accounting standard methodology and comprehensive framework that measures and manages GHG emissions from private and public sector operations, value chains, and mitigation actions.
Boundaries will differ from an office-based company to a product and even a concert venue - because it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. However, the boundaries will all revolve around equity share, financial control, and operational control.
By using this same system, LUSH, a British cosmetics retailer with a global presence, identified energy use, ingredient sourcing, water use, waste, and transportation of goods and people as its key emissions boundaries. This has not only provided LUSH with a better understanding of where its sustainable efforts were falling short but also enabled the company to take action that spurs positive environmental impact and even opens up new customer markets.
In essence, establishing an environmental policy is the only way forward for a business, and now that we’ve finished unpacking what it entails, why it’s important, and how you can set one up, you’re officially ready to transition into the future; think of it like moving into a new home - let us know when the housewarming is and we’ll welcome you to the neighbourhood.