Big news for business

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Dear Planetary Steward,

Today is important for the GCA’s Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) with its major 2024 release of new and updated technical guidance and resources for companies that are looking to set science-based targets for nature. Informed by their trail-blazing cohort of pilot companies, SBTN’s updates strengthen the feasibility and practicality of the methods, while maintaining ambition and scientific rigor. Please do support the launch by amplifying the news on social media.

As the risks of the climate and environmental crises come into ever sharper view, business leaders need rigorous, practical standards like science-based targets to enable them to take bold action toward safeguarding the future. But this shift can only happen in collaboration with governments, which are currently taking unpredictable turns around the world. Last week’s elections in the UK and France saw surprising gains on the far right and left respectively. Not only do the climate and nature action impacts of any new leadership far outlast any election cycle, but both of these results signal what is to come for the state of global governance.

Whichever way the world swings politically, without governance that supports science-informed institutional frameworks, the chance of a safe and just future will slip out of reach. We can see the outcomes of this in many parts of the world already. Ten environmental youth activists were recently jailed in Cambodia for ‘plotting against the government’, a deeply worrying reflection of how environmental stewards are met with violence around the world. As well as being a huge blow to the conservation of vital ecosystems, this is a red flag for governance, the economy, human rights and indigenous rights in these regions. It is also an injustice to future generations, further exacerbating intergenerational inequality.

It is unnerving that governments can still choose business interests over the health of its people and nature, especially when we know most people demand more protection for both: 71% of the G20 countries we surveyed in our recent Ipsos MORI survey support immediate climate action, and 65% believe economic success should be measured by the health and wellbeing of its citizens.

As Earth Commission Co-Chair Fatima Denton said recently: “We have to understand the governance systems and structures that would allow us to enable that justice to come through. […] We must be able to be more inclusive, more embracing in our knowledge and be able to delve more into those realms of governance economy, political economy. All of those things matter if we are to radically change the systems that are holding us back.” Whoever leads, must listen. And far from oppressed or imprisoned, those who are most impacted by the ecological emergency – from young people to Indigenous communities – demand to be heard by the entire world.

I was lucky to speak directly to young people last week as part of a panel on “The economics of thriving within Planetary Boundaries”at the Villars Symposium in Switzerland, as part of a fellowship learning program designed to help young people respond to global challenges through intergenerational collaboration and systems leadership. I spoke about the need for a new economic viewpoint which recognizes what we are taking out is more than nature can keep supplying – and how this is endangering prosperity now and in the future. Many of the gathered young audience seemed to be holding on to the idea that solutions lie in technology and economic growth. After the sessions, we had some interesting chats and it was heartening to see their mindsets had shifted toward better connecting ecology and economy.

Jane Madgwick, Executive Director of GCA addressing Villars Symposium

It was fascinating to hear about the latest research being led by scientists across the planet which aims to guide outcomes for planetary resilience through interdisciplinary science, at the Frontiers Planet Prize. I was honored to be invited to address the Frontiers Planet Prize candidates in a pre-dinner speech on “the global commons as a policy framework”. In this I emphasized that Earth’s storyline does not need to be “a tragedy of the commons”, and there is space for “a sudden and dramatic change in plot” to return Earth toward conditions that ensure a safe and just future for humanity. And that for this we all need to come onto the stage, and for a “collective consciousness” to drive forward collective stewardship of the global commons.

Outcomes from a discussion at Villars Sumposium

Finally, we invite you to read our new Impact report. In this online report you will learn about some of our achievements undertaken in collaboration with our partners over the past twelve months, thanks to the support of our donors. As we move forward with a 2030 strategy, we look forward to working closely with our partners to mobilize citizens, companies, cities and countries to accelerate systems change, and become better guardians of the global commons. With your support, it really is possible.

With all my best wishes,

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