In recent years, we’ve seen a pretty revolutionary cultural shift from consumers, from one of securing the best product for the lowest price to one of searching out products that they know are kind to both people and the planet. Additional to that, consumers have been shown to relish the feeling of community that comes with this pattern of consumption, bearing in mind an increased environmental conscience. National and international laws, regulations, policies and politics are all motivated more and more by the desire to be part of the fight against climate change.
As a result, the promise of a green economy which improves human well-being and builds social equity while reducing environmental risks and scarcities is incredibly attractive. Seen as an impactful alternative to our current economic model, which primarily produces profits from the extraction and exploitation of essential resources, an inclusive green economy has the potential to challenge inequalities, discourage waste, avoid resource scarcities, and improve outcomes to the environment and human health.
In the last ten years, the concept of the green economy has become a strategic goal for many governments. By transforming their economies into supportive mechanisms for sustainability, these countries will be better prepared to take on the major challenges of the upcoming century.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, is seen by many as a fundamental basis for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. At its core are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. These goals reinforce the social enterprise viewpoint that there is no such thing as real climate justice without the economic justice that underpins it.
Social enterprises are seen as a key vehicle towards the transition to a post-carbon emitting future. As long as they have existed, social enterprises have shown themselves to be key contributors to the circular economy and leaders in challenging environmental and economic inequalities.Indeed, even the premise on which social enterprises are built, the pursuit of purpose over profit means they are at a distinct advantage in the green transition in comparison to traditional enterprises.
This agility serves greatly as the business model can pivot faster and more efficiently.In fact, traditional enterprises are, at times, incentivised to work in ways completely antithetical to the morals of the green transition as they are obliged to maximise profits. If they don’t do this, they leave themselves open to legal challenges from investment companies who seeks stable returns for their customers or their model falls apart.
This fact has been noted by the European Commission which has developed the EU Green Deal. This is primarily an action plan, to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy and to restore biodiversity and cut pollution. The overarching objective is for the EU to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050. And, they’ve put their money where their mouth is, with a number of funding mechanisms in place to facilitate the EU Green Deal, totalling over €1 trillion!
When it comes to social enterprises, there are lots of environmental wins to be made, even from the smallest of organisations. Moving towards a more sustainable business model can be daunting but you’re already ahead of the pack!
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