Regenerative Business Roundtable
During this event, members of the Lab gathered leaders in the regenerative business space from to discuss the opportunities and challenges of moving away from an extractive business model. Leaders from Patagonia, Ecosia, Natura & Co, Net Positive, and BK Lab UK spoke alongside University of Oxford researchers and graduate students to discuss what regenerative business means in practice, and the challenges, opportunities, and knowledge gaps they are uncovering in this space.
Charmian Love: There we go and I think probably all you guys have to click the little button to say a-okay all right. Excellent okay well listen everyone welcome we are so glad that you were able to make some time on this uh sunny Monday morning. The purpose of this conversation today is to welcome you as for some of the real sort of leading lights and thinkers of regenerative business to what we hope will be a quite informal conversation about what you see happening in this space, the roles you have, but also really importantly for the work we want to invest in and dig deeper into at Oxford, where you're seeing challenges and tensions and where there might be some knowledge gaps or evidence gaps that we might be able to help you with over the years to come as we at Oxford and this should be clear a range of different departments with Oxford are beginning to look at ways in which we can support organisations that are interested in this regenerative economy and in particular what is happening in regenerative business. So again this is a conversation amongst friends and we will do our very best to keep it um in flow and with sort of a again informal vibe. Ah!, there we go, welcome Mary we were just getting started and it would not have been complete without you here, so welcome very much very, very much Mary. The way we're going to sort of run our time together is we're going to do a round of introductions and we're going to go by alphabetical first name ,so Beth if it's okay we might be, oh no, actually, Alexis, pardon me, Alexis we'll be going to you first and then Beth. What we'd like you to do is just be quite brief in your introductions because we'll have a chance to sort of get to know each other a little bit more over the conversation, but if you would be able to share your name, your sort of role within the organisation or institution you're associated with, and then because we do want to have a little bit of playlist, those of you who know me know I just love capturing the music from friends and fellow travellers, so just something you maybe have listened to in the last little bit that has moved you. It can connect to regenerative business and it might not. But we'll put together a little bit of a playlist after this call So again, in terms of the sort of style it is going to be, really, you know, informal and we're going to try and keep this in discussion, we do want to encourage you to use the chat functions just so if there's things that are coming up that you want to make sure are captured, before things move on too far. Just please make sure you put them in the chat. If you want to jump in I would encourage people to use the raise hand function, I will do my best to keep my eye on all of you, so that if there isn't a hand up in the emoji, but if I can see somebody wants to get in, we'll try and make sure we have a way of capturing what you want to share. The other thing we're going to pop in the chat, is a link to a google doc, and again this is just a third way to capture your insight and experience and what we've done is mapped out a few of the questions we plan to discuss today, so again you can feel free to throw in some very simple lines or reflections if you're feeling like the conversation's moving on but you really want to make sure there's a point there. Now, all of this information is being captured and the reason why we're so excited to be talking to you is because as we start thinking about ways in which we can do more work to support organisations in regenerative business, we do want to make sure we're doing it from the very start with an anchoring in where and how academia can come together with practice. And so again that's the real reason why we're here together. Now, Cécile, hopefully that answered enough about the questions about how we want to use our time. The two kind of question sets we want to explore really about what your understanding of regenerative business is and how it's sort of showing up within the organisation you're associated with, and then again going into a little bit about these tensions, knowledge gaps, and places where it could be helpful to have some support by some of the leading academics and student thinkers at Oxford. So before we move into introductions can I just check is everyone cool with that? Is it feeling pretty straight forward? I'm seeing some thumbs up, excellent! All right, well, with that then, let's move into our rapid-fire introductions. If you see me typing in the background, it's because I’m making a little Spotify playlist in the background. We'll make sure we send around to everyone, so over to you Alexis to kick us off!
Alexis McGivern: Well, thanks so much Char, it's always great to get your energy off a zoom call! My name is Alexis McGivern, I'm an MBA candidate at the Saïd Business School at Oxford, but previously was doing research at the Geography Department and so, same department as Cecile before. And I have a background in plastic pollution and marine environment, so working on policy but I also um think it's important that I also, that I mentioned that I also really believe in change from the ground up. So I also have a background in community organising especially around refugee integration and around food insecurity. So those are kind of like the two trying to create change from the top down and from the bottom up, and I'm really excited to be with you all today. And what I’m listening to at the moment; I'm teaching myself the banjo, and so I've been listening to Carolina Chocolate Drops which are a really cool band that have cool banjo in there, because I'm trying to learn some of their songs.
Charmian Love: Amazing, thank you! I might need to follow up with you to get the exact Spotify link for that banjo music. And what I’m going to encourage us to do is to keep this flowing. Alexis, why don't you pass it on to Beth, and Beth maybe then, you can pass it on to, I think Caitlyn will be next based on the alphabetical ordering. Then we'll just sort of round each, go to each the next person.
Beth Thorne: Okay, why don't I just go ahead and start then. Hi, my name is Beth Thorne, I am the director of environmental action at Patagonia. I'll explain more what that means later. In terms of my playlist, over Christmas, I was with my brother, he was making me listen to different versions of Brahms. The one played by Yehudi Menuhin was the one that had passion and pain in it, so let me get you that link. And I'm going to pass it on to Caitlyn.
Caitlin McElroy: Wow, thank you Beth so yeah wonderful to see you guys today so I’m Caitlin McElroy, I'm a lecturer in the School of Geography and the Environment, but particularly working within the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and I also run Executive Education programs for us there. For a long time, my research has really centred around this question of how is it that businesses engage with socioeconomic development and environmental protection, where they operate, and it's been a very global mission with a whole range of industries and so I’m super excited to be jumping in here from the regenerative framing as well. And in terms of music, I have to confess I've been going back to a bit of a sort of upbeat cheese lately and I think with some optimism of what's on the horizon and Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten", kind of that, jumping up and down hopefulness, has sort of been on my playlist the past couple weeks so, it's gonna have to be the song for today. And I think Cécile, you're next for me.
Cécile Girardin: Thanks, thanks, Caitlyn! Hello, I'm Cécile, I work under the Technical Director of Nature-Based Solutions Initiative, and we've just launched a social enterprise that's a spin out of the university called Nature-Based Insetting, where we help companies implement nature-based solutions and biodiversity along their supply chain. So, we're doing a lot of thinking around how do we actually achieve this practically now that there's so much pressure for companies to start thinking of biodiversity as well as all their climate change strategy and all this fits very well with the regenerative business work that you're all doing. So, I'm excited to be here. Playlists I've got two, one is from my teenager that I discovered recently through him, and it's called "Money Game" by Ren, I forget if I get it right, I just think it's quite clever, I really like it. And then every morning we listen to my little sister who's a violinist and she's during lockdown, because it was so hard to perform and impossible for musicians, she launched a couple of albums and she's on Spotify uh Laure Chan, is her name. Oh oh oh, pass on to Mary?
Charmian Love: Oh actually, I think I'm next. I'm next, and then I'll get it to Kelsey next. So, I'm Charmian Love, and I'm the lucky one who knows all of you! And, as I was saying in our sort of pre-chat, it was just really great to have a chance to see you all on this lovely Monday morning. I'm the Social Entrepreneur in residence at the school centre at the Saïd Business School where I teach an MBA class on regenerative and circular economy. I'm also the co-director on the Climate Emergency Program, which is another Executive Education program that's being run at as a partnership between the Smith School and Saïd Business School. When I'm not at Oxford or virtually at Oxford, I am also co-founder and activist in residence at B Lab UK. Music that I've been listening to; actually, you know, I was going to put C+C Music Factory because that played on a recent workout that I did, yes, you know, "Everybody dance now" um but you've also inspired me, Cécile, because the other music I've been listening to is my sister-in-law, who is a musician in Canada and she has a great song called "I see gold", and the line is "I see gold in the shadows, there's a change coming and everything's going to be all right", so it's kind of my, it's actually kind of my climate change anthem and so there's changes happening and we've got to come together in order to address them. So, I'll put that in our my Spotify playlist as well for you all. Okay, and I think Kelsey, you're next in the alphabetical order.
Kelsey Finkelstein: Thanks Char, great to be with everyone here! My name is Kelsey Finkelstein and I work for Paul Pullman as he's the Director of Strategic Engagements and Partnerships. And before that, I was working more in development and impact investing, mostly in Africa but I've been in the UK for about 10 years now so it's more home than California, sadly. But yeah, I think with Paul, as many of you know, we're really on a kind of a campaign around new models of business, so this is a really great conversation to be a part of. And music, oh my gosh, I really been throwing it back to Tracy Chapman recently "And talking about a revolution", I mean I really, you can't um get enough of her so, that's what I've been listening to. And I will pass it on to Marcelo.
Marcelo Bihar: Thank you Kelsey, and hello everyone! I'm Marcelo Bihar here by my accent, I'm Brazilian. I've been in London now for one year, I'm the Vice President for Sustainability and Group Affairs Monitoring Co., which is a global group that you will be speaking a lot on what we're trying to do, to work towards regeneration and to tackle climate change. But it has brands that probably you know, like The Body Shop, Esop, Avon and Natura, the mothership started in Brazil 50 years ago. I am a sociologist and a lawyer, by training worked in several NGOs in government, and well, really glad to be with you today. Super thank you for the invitation. And on the playlist, I think I'll pick one from the South and one from the North so the southern one couldn't be anyone else than a former minister of culture and an artist that I admire a lot called Gilberto Gil, he has a new song called "Refloresta" so, reforest, which speaks exactly of the topic that we are going to address today. It's in Portuguese and since I've heard many who recollect great achievements from the musical industry, I think I'll remember we can work it out from the Beatles that I was teaching my kids this weekend about their greatness. So, I was hearing that and I think it also tackles the same sense. So now I'll pass to Mary, please.
Mary Johnstone-Louis: Thanks so much Marcelo! So I'm Mary Johnstone-Louis I'm based in Oxford and it's such a pleasure to be here and to be part of this, to a great way to start the week. So, I am a Senior Research fellow at the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, and I've had really an enduring interest in how businesses make sense of the issues that affect us all. So, whether that's gender where I have a long kind of history of work in gender and business, or looking at today, how businesses are making sense of the kinds of both social and environmental crises that we face, and so, that is how I spend my days here in Oxford. I also teach several of our both online and in-person courses on sustainability, and it's just been, yeah, a real pleasure to be here. I think my crowning achievement at the moment is that I took over from someone absolutely incredible as Chair of B Lab UK, so this was Char's previous role, and I took over this role a year ago. And that's just been a joy to see businesses who are really trying to bridge that gap between intention and action intention and reality, and I think to have the chance to really have a front row seat to walk alongside and see what that looks like and the passion and the real commitment that's there. So that's a little about me. I watched "Encanto" last night for the first time with my two daughters and I lived in Latin America, so this was like a kind of return to, you know, Colombia for me, but via a children's cartoon. So, if you haven't seen "Encanto" I just couldn't endorse it more, if you're looking for something to watch regardless of your age. So that got me on to, I'll follow Marcelo, one song from the South one song from the global North, so a very famous Colombian artist named Carlos Vives, whose music is just infectious, joyful and very much along the lines of that kind of film. But then the northern artist that I've been spending a lot of time with is listening to on repeat Queen. So Freddie Mercury's "Don't stop me now" and it was a song that's traditionally thought of as kind of a really very hedonistic time in his life, and a time that was a lot of risk-taking and a lot of actually quite dangerous behaviour really, and so it has that kind of background but I've been taking it on as a kind of, don't stop me now, let's think about what we can do, let's be together, let's push forward let's think about the future so trying to take it on and perhaps a more regenerative frame than maybe it was originally written. And I think we're over to, let's see, Puninda, is that right?
Puninda Thind: Yes that's right, thanks Mary. It's nice to meet you! Hi everyone, so lovely to meet all of you, and really glad to be here. I'm Puninda Thind, a candidate in the Master Sustainability Enterprise and Environment program here at the Smith School at Oxford, and my background is in corporate sustainability consulting, sustainable investing in the built environment as well as in climate justice, organising. And really looking forward to the conversation here today and loving all the music recommendations. My favourite song right now I'm listening to a lot is Stevie Wonder, and so um specifically the song "Power Flower" is quite inspiring and really lovely. And with that I’ll pass it over to Sophie.
Sophie Dembinski: All right, this is this is actually spun me out a little bit because my favourite artist Neil Young, I've just remembered, is no longer on Spotify. But so I’m going to do the same thing, I'm going to copy everyone else and do I'm going to say Neil Young "Heart of gold", as my kind of Northern, kind of artist although I have to find him somewhere else, and then I'm going to say from the South, I'm going to say I was just in Costa Rica with some dear, dear friends from Costa Rica, and one of my best friends is in a band called Passive Flora and they were quite a big Costa Rican band about a few years ago. And then they broke up and now they're getting back together, and it's all really exciting! And the song I'm going to suggest is a song called "Like a tree". And I work for Ecosia, and we are a tree planting organisation, so I think there's a nice connection there. And I'd really recommend the song, it's really beautiful and it's, yeah, it's a really uplifting song, and it's all about nature and kind of the friendship group that they have, who are in the band in Costa Rica. So it's super, super lovely, so yeah, so I'm Sophie I work for Ecosia, we're a search engine that plants trees, we're also B Corp, and we are very much, I would say, a regenerative business. And we'll go into that a little bit more today, but excited to share a little bit about what we've been up to in our kind of thinking about how the future of business could look as well, if more people kind of adopted these principles. And so yeah really excited to be here, thanks for inviting me.
Charmian Love: What an amazing dream team of people to have on a call! I just, I'm gonna be smiling for the rest of the week knowing that we've all had this chance to get to know each other a little bit and have a wicked playlist to kind of power through the week ahead too. And thank you, because I think this is what we should be doing for playlists. Actually, what was what emerged in this conversation is have global North and global South playlists and bring them, and blend them together, but thank you for bringing that in and it's certainly gonna be great to expand my own sort of musical repertoire by hearing some of these great suggestions. One of the things I should have mentioned on the upfront piece, and I think most of you guys are already aware of this because you've already been actively contributing, but one of the things we also want to make sure we get a chance to hear from you a little bit about, is, you know, what's happening in regenerative business and in particular, some of the steps that you might be able to share, based on your own journeys. And that is going to be an important contribution to the regenerative business playbook, which has been in development for quite a few months now. And so, I also wanted to make sure you guys were aware that sort of the insights and experiences that you're bringing through, and some of the sort of how-to. We're hoping will also be really interesting and important contributions to this playbook which we will hopefully be planning to bring out in the next couple of months. Now, with that, Caitlin and I and Puninda and Alexis have been doing some thinking a little bit about that playbook, and how we wanted to frame this conversation. And one of the things we have come out with, is just sort of some very um simple guidance when it comes to how we're starting to approach what the regenerative economy is. So, I'm going to turn it over to Caitlin, to sort of just do a little bit of scene setting on how we're thinking and approaching it currently at Oxford. And then, we'll get tucked into some of the questions which Caitlin is going to lead us through. So over to you Caitlin!
Caitlin McElroy: Yeah sure, thanks Char! And so, I really light touch, because our goal today is to hear from all of you more than it is to say this is what we're thinking, but just so for people who may be joining us who haven't heard about regenerative business before, to give some context as to where we're coming from with this. And part of it is, I think we've been framing it in terms of how do we have positive contributions to nature into society, and I think in particular, we've been thinking of it along four different axis, in terms of how can we have businesses that are climate positive that is not just limiting emissions into the environment, but actually helping to say, draw down co2 emissions and contribute positively for a longer term trajectory on the climate nature positive. And here, I think there's been a lot of energy and conversation around how do we try to preserve and build back biodiversity in the global biodiversity stocks, socially positive and economically positive. We have these separate at the moment, but I think this will be great to hear a bit more from both of, from all of you about as well, because they can be deeply intertwined. So we're thinking here about environmental justice, and also some of the components of economic justice that are very closely aligned and tied towards it, and how we actually bring those together, as we think about what businesses roles are and move forward. So I guess, take it as you will, perhaps four categories as we're framing it now, but challenge us on these see how you think they need to be re-engaged with these are the principles we're starting with, for discussion but they need not be where we end up. So that, in a sense, I think the light touch guidance I'm going to give, that a regenerative future is no longer just about trying to remain sustainable for where we are today, but actually building stronger environment culture and social systems for a society that is more economically just and more environmentally thriving into the future. And with that, I think that's going to be my cue to now ask you guys: what you think about this?
And so our kick-off question, and again take it as you will, because we really want it to be quite broad, is really just to ask you what does regenerative business mean to you and how is your organisation engaging in this space?
I was thinking just because, to give people a chance to all seek me when we come backwards here and say, you know, Sophie, do you want to chime in first, or Patagonia has been such a leader in the space, I mean, jump in! Who feels ready to tell us what regenerative business is to them.
Sophie Dembinski: Beth, I'm happy to jump in first, and or do you want to? Yeah, okay, sure. Well, I just want to say thank you so much for that kind of overview, and also to say that I very much agree with those four pillars. I was thinking about kind of a phrase that's been driving, I think, a lot of the business kind of space on this for a while, which is that "The people in planet over profit", and I think that the regenerative business model is kind of "People in planet 2.0", because I think we need to move beyond that saying in some ways. And I think what you just said helps to provide a road map, a kind of a sense of where we need to go, which is to do more, to be better at this, to kind of integrate this more within our business models. And so for me, I think that this is really about kind of, how do we reimagine value, or rather, how do we kind of reconnect with what we find to be valuable as human beings, as participants in nature and how, you know, include that concept and these pillars within how we define a successful business to be. So for Ecosia, for example, of course we, you know, as we've been growing and our revenue increases, that's fantastic, but we very much measure success not by our revenue, but how many trees we've planted, and how many, you know, hectares we've restored, hectares of landscape, you know, we've restored. How many users we've helped to be more climate active, for example, or for the world fund, which is a climate tech fund we've created last year. We launched last year as part of a Ecosia, you know, the metric there is not you know, what's our return going to be on the investment, but how much carbon is going to be removed by the companies that we've invested in. And that's also how we decide which companies to invest in, it's on how that projection right, how much carbon they will plan to remove over the coming five-year period, for example. So, I think it's very much about that, taking a kind of reimagining what value is, thinking about it in the long term as well, that's, I think, a very key part of what regenerative business is. It's long-term thinking, it's big picture thinking, and it's very much taking a holistic approach too. So, how do we create that value, this kind of the socio-economic impact, what we've traditionally called kind of ESG. I think for me, this is really where personal values kick in and also company values kick in, and if they don't kick in at this stage, it's sometimes where regulation needs to kick in. So, for example, you know, we're a search engine so we need to recognise that, as part of our business model, we take a certain amount of electricity, everything we do in life is going to have some kind of environmental cost. And for us, we recognise, okay, we use a lot of electricity as a search engine, so we need to make sure that we're involved in the energy sector as a result. So we have with 200% energy renewable, we have solar panel plants, which offset we use solar energy to offset the energy electricity that we use not trees I should say. So that's something that we need to recognise, so I think the kind of a doing a no harm taking, a no harm approach, or if you're a festival goer leave no trace approach, maybe it resonates a bit more, but certainly that's like the kind of one of the core principles is do no harm, and then also, you know, adding to nature. So, being nature positive is, you know, a core part of our business model. So that's one of the first principles, is kind of do no harm. And also I should say, as a tech company, as a search engine that also, taking a holistic view means, also not compromising on people's privacy. So, we're not creating harm in another way, in another sector, in another country. I think that's really important depending on what your business model is and so that, you know, you're not doing harm in one place to add perceived value somewhere else, because that's not real value, you know, and in that sense. So what we really need to make sure is that we are looking at the full system and that we're being holistic that we're understanding the role that we each play as individuals and as companies, and that there is a cost, making sure we address that cost to the environment or whatever it is, rectify that, and ensure that's integrated as part of the business model and then, you know, make sure we're being climate positive, nature positive, and also having a positive socio-economic impact as well. So I completely agree with what you said out, I think that's absolutely the way that we, you know, really resonates with us as a company, and then just kind of just slightly reframing it in the sense of kind of long-term value and kind of taking a holistic view, I think is also an approach that we take at Ecosia.
Caitlin McElroy: Thank you, Sophie. Now that's great, I have a big circle around circling back if you will, it's a long-term value but, before we do that, Marcelo, Beth, also from a business perspective from both of you, would you maybe chime in?
Beth Thorne: Yeah, sure, really, really happy to and, yeah, like Sophie said this idea of doing no harm is super important. The build that I would make on that, which is actually something Ecosia does as well as Patagonia, is this idea of purpose. You know, you need to align everything in your organisation to purpose and, you know, Patagonia's purpose, you know, we're in business to save our home planet. I can't, I don't know exactly what Ecosia's is, but it's some, you know, it's very powerful. And what that does is, it changes the decision-making of every single person within the organisation, so that every single decision is thought about in multiple ways people, planet, profit, of course we have to make profit, but our "econ lady" is constantly pulling her hair out because she says "I have to make every decision three times" but that's exactly what you have to do because you're constantly balancing a series of trade-offs that you have to make and, you know, Patagonia doesn't use the word like "sustainable" because, you know, we make stuff. Every jacket that we sell, creates and adds to the problem. Now, we make that jacket in a really, really remarkable way, and, you know, what we're doing in terms of cutting carbon, in terms of fair trade, in terms of recycling, blah blah blah. It's really good, but you have to be honest with yourself first and kind of go "you're adding to the problem here" and so, you have to think about, well how do, you how, do you offset that and how do you create more good in the world than the damage that you do. And so, we're constantly thinking about that as an organisation. Now I am sort of drifting from your question, which is what is regenerative business, I don't know, we think about it as just giving back more than you take. That's how we think about it really, really simply. I like your framework of the sort of four categories, I think the biggest thing that happened since the murder of George Floyd was, you know, intersectionality. And really what you're talking about is intersectionality, you know, writ large so, you know, for us, in anything that we talk about we're always thinking about "does this solution meet the economic needs of the people that are, you know, working there, does it fit the nature needs, climate needs", you know, so we think about you know, it holistically in that way. So yeah, I would just, I would just kind of, I think what you're capturing is intersectionality and it is the single biggest change that's happened in the last couple of years, and it's super important. So, that is, that's a regenerative business. I'll go into more later but, you know, we start with our carbon footprint, we recycle, we do all sorts of cool innovation there, we try to sell less product and have more second-hand product, we try to use agriculture as a way of actually regenerating and absorbing carbon, but actually generating demand for carbon absorbing agriculture. I'm talking too much, but we work through it quite systematically like that and the last bit is using your voice. So, I'm going to stop now because I've been going on too long, sorry.
Caitlin McElroy: No, not going on too long at all that thanks so much for that. Marcelo, just maybe we'll do some of the people representing businesses first and then coming from different perspectives, that would be great.
Marcelo Bihar: Sure Caitlin, my pleasure, and very glad to talk after Beth, because I think we are exactly on the same direction. So, moving trying to do things in a way that we can measure, because we do stuff, and when we do stuff, we take a lot of carbon to do things, and we take a lot of nature to do things, so how we do things, I think, becomes really the question. I really like the four um pillars approach, just want to go through and I think at Natura & Co we consider that same criteria. So we must, in order to say that something is regenerative, it should be carbon positive, nature positive, social positive, and also of course profitable. So I think on the profitability angle, everything is said, we know, we have the instruments, we deliver results, we explain this to shareholders. I think that's a clean path, when we move to carbon and how can we really get into the carbon discussion, in a way that is also a regenerative solution. I think, we just have to double down, and to take a look at if we are not only aligning our scopes with science-based targets and have everything with the most efficient science set, but also, if we are taking the approach of curbing emissions down in time, and if we are considering not only upsetting, but also, how we are removed because I think this is a major discussion of this. And the criteria that I saw during COP26 being used for removals were mostly, let's say, more energy focused and less nature-based solutions orientated. I think we still have a lot to develop in terms of how can we build an economy that will move towards net zero, but using nature, and using the ecosystem restoration as something that is part of the equation. And it's not there yet, so I think that's something important to stress. On the nature side by itself, I think, this is the most difficult one nowadays, and that's where we should really place our minds and see how can we build something that will become as simple as we did with carbon for nature. So, nowadays we have different initiatives in place, there is TNFT building the connection between risks, the economy, and finance with nature, we have the science-based targets trying to work something on biodiversity. But I think we lack something globally, that it's the national standards, or how can we have the big number on nature so we do have the big numbers on carbon. We have the NDCs on carbon, they're already set, we know where we want to go. On nature, we don't have anything similar so, many countries globally, they can claim that they're doing well, but we don't know and there is no connection between how businesses are operating and how nature is progressing. So, once that link is established, I think, then we can properly say that we are being regenerative. And finally, I also always talk too much, but this is important on the social angle, what I've seen in discussions with the World Economic Forum, One Planet of Biodiversity many different initiatives, is that, regeneration sometimes is just considered as better use of the soil moving away from monoculture. So, if you are already placing more natural ingredients in the soil, etc,, then you're becoming regenerative, which I think it's part of the way but it's the middle of the way, not the end of the way. So, the end of the way is taking traditional communities and traditional knowledge into the equation. So, working with the true guardians of nature. So, if we are doing that in the same way that we have been doing for the last 200 years it's not enough. I think we should try to operate, and to build business with traditional communities in a way that they can benefit from it, it's positive for them, and once all those four angles are established, then, I think we're building a regenerative solution.
Caitlin McElroy: Yeah, thank you for that Marcelo. In particular, this idea of how do we continue to focus more on big targets, but in spaces beyond climate, and I'm gonna jump to Cécile for that, but just before we do that, since we've been talking so much about the context of positive. I'm using this terminology, I wanted to come to you Kelsey, because that's such a core piece of your work, and if you could elaborate or see how you think this fits with what you've been doing.
Kelsey Finkelstein: Yeah, thanks for that. I mean, and everything everyone is saying is completely aligned with what we're trying to do with, the kind of launch, or really the movement we're trying to help accelerate with Paul and Andrew Winston's new book "Net Positive" and it's really, I mean, it's so simple really, it's just, you know, doing less harm isn't good enough anymore, and we really need companies to have a positive impact on everyone it touches through its products, services, how it influences kind of broader ecosystem. And, you know, I think it's really about taking responsibility and it's hard work, and I really commend the companies that are on the call today, and what you've been able to do. But, you know, this is, this isn't for the kind of absent-minded kind of lazy business, this is really takes a lot of courage and hard work to be able to step up and kind of really, as Sophie was saying, kind of really reframe what good looks like and that's what we're trying to do with net positive, is come up with principles for what it means, what good looks like now, and what businesses should be doing, you know, as also Beth said, we should be kind of solving the world's problems, not creating them. So, I think um that's where we're coming from for net positive and really, you know, companies that are net positive or those that are restorative, reparative, regenerative, and yeah, that's what we're trying to push.
Caitlin McElroy: Yeah, thanks Kelsey. And Cécile, I'm in similar lines, we've talked quite a bit about nature-based solutions and the role of including more nature, and how we look at regeneration from your perspective in your research, how, yeah, how is this fitting together in your mind.
Cécile Girardin: Thanks, thanks Caitlin. Thanks, it's really great to hear from all of you on what you're doing, and how far you've come, and the challenges you're facing. Beth, I really loved your way of describing regenerative business, giving back more than you take, and that applies to climate, biodiversity, and human well-being. And, as you say, Marcelo, now the piece on biodiversity is still in its infancy, I guess, well, we've been working on it a lot but we're still not quite there in the way, we've, we have protocols for greenhouse gas emissions, and we've advanced quite a lot on that, so we are at nature-based solutions initiative, and nature-based insetting, really focusing on this piece for biodiversity and social, the social context, understanding the social context and how do we develop methodologies for being able to increase transparency and accountability, as well as having comparable results across different regions, and supply chains, etc. So, we all, we all know that the science is clear, climate change and biodiversity loss represents increasing risks to global economy and to businesses, and as a result businesses have been really engaged in all this lately, which is important of course, given the need for private sector financing to achieve our global targets, and we've seen so much involvement in the private sector in COP for example, and all the systems you were mentioning Marcelo, the G7 that backed the intro to the task force for nature related financial disclosure, the TIFD also, that came out recently for adding the inequality piece, and all the voluntary frameworks. Also, the plethora of, I think, plethora is the right word of announcements that were made around COP26, and all these huge commitments, financial commitments, and bilateral commitments, and on targeted specifically towards stopping deforestation and more sustainable agricultural practices, regenerative agricultural practices, I guess, but then now, how do we achieve these targets. We need to set the mechanisms in place to achieve all this, and we also need, on the other hand, we need clarity on how much nature can actually contribute to climate mitigation, and that's what we've been working on a lot lately. There are two aspects to, so, nature-based solutions, just to clarify, their activities that involve working with nature to address societal challenge, and that provide benefits to biodiversity human well-being, and are net zero aligned. So, we have these three big components in the definition of nature-based solutions and, more specifically, their activities that protect, restore and manage ecosystems, natural ecosystems, semi-natural. So, all types of ecosystems, human, man-made, human modified, so we go from agricultural practices to protecting and restoring intact peatlands, intact ecosystems, and importantly, there are very broad guidelines for ensuring that we don't veer from the need to address these multiple benefits for nature-based solutions, that we don't have a focus on one or another aspect and then forget the other aspects basically, because, there may be a trade-off in some cases, so, if you're focusing too much on carbon we've seen, in past few years, that there have been many trade-offs in terms of human well-being or in terms of biodiversity. So, first we always have to say that nature-based solutions are not a substitute for rapid phase out of fossil fuels. Absolutely, keep fossil underground, what goes up much must come back down, is the thing. So, and in equivalent terms, also, that's important and then they apply to all ecosystems, so, not just not having a focus on tree planting or forests in particular, really looking at some natural, semi-natural, created ecosystems, so peat bogs, and grasslands, and everything they're designed, implemented, and managed with, and by the participation of indigenous peoples, and local communities, and they support biodiversity at all levels to a genetic level to ecosystem level and, so, what we've been working on a lot is, that we still need clarity on how much they contribute to climate mitigation. And, in a recent study we looked at this and found, well if you look at a well-constrained model, that takes into account , you know, food security, fibre security, as well as biophysical constraints, we get to about 10 Gigatons of CO2 per year, that could be captured, or either not emitted, or sequestered by natural ecosystems. So, about half comes from avoided emissions, the other half from sequestering, and that's it's just important to remember, that's the equivalent of the emissions from the transport sector, for example. Not the transport sector and the agricultural sector and the production manufacturing, so we can't, I'm just, what I'm trying to get at, is that we can't use nature-based solutions as an offsetting, as a substitute for continued emissions, and so with this in mind, we also look at the mythic, the adaptation potential of nature-based solutions, and they, there's a wealth of evidence, that shows there are so many benefits apart from climate mitigation, that come from implementing nature-based solutions. And so, that's where we're at, really looking at this, and implementing it, helping companies first of all. The big, big first hurdle is really to understand how to quantify the impacts companies have, because we don't have clarity on where the impacts are in terms of biodiversity or social equity, and then from there understand what solutions to address these impacts, and how to quantify those I'll stop there.
Caitlin McElroy: No, it's brilliant! And clearly so you guys have more going on in terms of your research than, yeah, several seminars could possibly convey. So this is great, to distil it down as much as you can for us, and it was really, especially that point on understanding impact, and how businesses are engaging with understanding their own impact, that made me want to chime into some of Mary's work, thinking from a B LAB perspective, and how she's seeing this business transition more broadly, and then also, maybe, just her reflections from her own research and how it fits together. Especially purpose, since that's come up with what Beth is saying too.
Mary Johnstone-Louis: Yeah, it has. And I think that we have to, it's really helpful actually, to go after you Cécile, because I think what you've laid out is just the scale of the challenge, and I think that's why we need the playlist right, and that's why we need these conversations, and we need each other, because we do live in an industrial system that was not built with regeneration in mind, and we live in societies that were not built with regeneration or protection of the vulnerable, let's say, necessarily in mind. And so it is something that will take a lot of tenacity, a lot of commitment, a lot of probably ideas that sound crazy at the outset, but that's how things change. So you know back to Tracy Chapman and her revolution, but I think that it's, for me, purpose is a good place to start because purpose is something that has now become kind of part of the corporate lexicon and I do worry, and I think probably most of us on this call worry about purpose washing, right, and we worry about the way that this word can be added on, and just sort of appended to existing models into existing business as usual. And that is really problematic and I think it's something that, you know, for many reasons but foremost, because it causes massive fatigue in the mind of the humans who work in organisations, and who really, we need to be honest with, and we need to engage in order to be able to deliver anything that looks like the kind of change that we need. And it creates a kind of cynicism in the public's mind as well, when we see companies that are, you know, doing exactly what they've always done, and perhaps not necessarily you taking that step of saying "we know that we will need to radically change" but, you know, simply add purpose and mix, right. So I think that's something that we all see and we all know is a concern, I like the word telos so I like an older word, a more ancient word, it's a word that really predates purpose, so it really refers to the end, and the reason for which something exists. So it's something that I think is helpful to go back to, and think about what are the ancient ways and the ancient roots of us understanding what are essentially the same questions that, you know, humans have always had which is "how do we live with each other" and "in the world in which we find ourselves", and so this idea that, you know, when we think there might be purpose washing, could we replace the word telos and say, is this really the reason for which this entity exists, is this really the reason for which they do every single thing that they do, is this their highest end, right? I think it's a nice test, you know, for ourselves, for all of us, right, because we all kind of fall short of our own telos all the time, but I think that definitely, to sort of change the language of it and say, you know, how do we perhaps look this look at this in a way that's a bit more fresh. And so, for me, you know, I spend most of my time with companies who are still in the old world if you will, right, companies and leaders and individuals and humans who are trying to make sense of what they feel, are a very large number of constraints, a lack of information often, or being simply overwhelmed by the amount of data they have. I'm not sure as Cécile was saying, how to tie it to really truly understanding their impact, so I think there's a huge amount of simplification in one way, that's needed but it's simplification that exists in a context of intersectionality, in the context of the things that are connected in really complex ways, so I think for managers and for leaders, it's a true challenge, but I think what we can do is, by creating conversations like this, creating spaces like this, I will think that the starting point for a conversation about regenerative business has to be a conversation about honesty, and about honesty around time horizons, honesty around the duration that these types of commitments will demand, honesty around the materials that we currently use, you know, the current impacts on steer, on process, and I think that, you know, in the end as we all know honesty is very freeing, right, and so I think if we can create those kinds of conversations with business and, you know, through brave businesses whether it's in Natura, or Ecosia or Patagonia coming out and saying, you know, here were the trade-offs, right, here were the costs and the benefits, here were in the old model, in which we exist, the ways that we actually, you know, perhaps we tried something, it really didn't work the way we wanted. I think we really need businesses who are willing to do that, so that other businesses can change. And so I think we can't, we can't, I think under, overemphasise the importance of having businesses on calls like this. And I think, you know, in the end it's helping people create the space to, you know, answer again the Pod, sorry, the Spotify question, the playlist question, that, you know, another one I always like to throw in there is Bob Dylan. So, you know, you have to serve somebody, and that should be probably on all of our playlists, and it's just creating that space to say, you know, who are we serving, and what are the institutions in which we work serving, and what systems are they propping up or continuing. So, I think regenerative fits into all that very nicely, but those are the conversations we need to start.
Caitlin McElroy: Thanks, Mary. No, and I at this point, on honesty, it's gotten my sort of double check as you've been talking through today, what does that actually mean and what does it mean in a corporate context as well. We've zipped through the sessions so fast already, I think um we're trying to try and make sure we get a little bit more out of each of you if we can, and maybe Alexis, if you could give us sort of a quick flash round of your reflections and then put in the, I know you sort of already queued up, that one of the things you're really interested in is understanding some of the challenges and intentions of achieving this, and maybe you could then lead us, and I guess we'll call it like a lightning round, like can people say in their, you know, their elevator pitch version of what the first things that come to mind. And we'll try to get everyone to have another bit of voice in here before we close out. That would be brilliant. So yeah Alexis, over to you.
Alexis McGivern: Yeah, thanks Caitlin. I mean, this is so exciting to be in the space and to hear from these leaders. I think, especially speaking as a student and a young person in this space, it's sometimes hard to know, should you follow the like beacons of light that are leading the way and really taking courageous steps and being honest, I really love that measure, or do you want to go to the old world and show them kind of what they could be doing and bring them up a little bit more, but maybe slightly at the expense of, Cécile and I were just talking about before the call, at the expense of being around people who don't have the same values and don't have the same vision. So you're kind of, swimming against the tide constantly. And I think it's been really inspiring to see how these major organisations that you're working for are trying to align that. I think, what, where, it's very interesting to come from an academic perspective too is to understand where the measures really allow leaders like yourselves to take initiatives that then they can show proof of concept and show proof of concept notably within their own industry but within their own organisation. So, yeah I'll hand over to Puninda, but this has been a really fantastic conversation, thank you.
Puninda Thind: Thanks Alexis, and thanks everyone for sharing all your insights. I think, so important to create space for these types of conversations, so I definitely am feeling very inspired. So, as mentioned, we'll do a quick lightning round for anyone who wants to chime in around the question as to what challenges are you facing on this journey towards becoming, you know, on this regenerative economy journey and what do you need to do more from an evidence or research perspective. So I’ll just open the floor up to anyone who wants to chime in here.
Kelsey Finkelstein: I'll quickly jump in. On our end, I mean, we've been um as Sharno's been working a lot, or thinking about how do we create this movement and build this campaign around these ideas to really socialise that whether it's net positive, or however regenerative, or however you want to call it. We're all talking about kind of the same thing here, and we're all working to accelerate this and I think, with higher education and management education, that we really want to, where we can play kind of, have a level leverage point, is on linking business and academia to create more of these kind of success stories, talk about failures, really give the data to get like the stories out there, and the data out there, so that we can empower both, kind of management school education as well as businesses to help kind of shift ambitions and mindsets and really just change, change ideas by changing kind of education. So that's what we're hoping to do with Oxford and others as well.
Beth Thorne: I'm happy to go next. So, what would be helpful to us, Patagonia, and I think, it would be tools to hold businesses to account. You know, it's very, it was sort of soul-destroying. We did a couple of joint activities with a number of other businesses in the US, and it turned out that they were lobbying against the very thing that they'd signed the letter for. And it was like a kick in the teeth, you know, it was. And what we need to do is, is we need help in getting transparency around that. We need, you know, Mary, you talked about purpose washing. Let's get transparency, you know, we've got carbon plans. Let's get, like, you know, these need to be analysed and then we need to empower employees to challenge their employer. And what we need is the ability, to kind of, get carbon neutral, not good enough, this is set for 2050 not 2030, you know, just have all the facts ready and be able to package it up for people, so that they can challenge some of the stuff that's going on. So holding to account would be one little bucket that I would say, gosh, we could use some help on. Obviously, and it was ever thus, it's the measurement of it, it's really interesting to, sort of, look at that so, you know, we can track, you know, the amount of organic carbon that we are responsible for planting, etc., you know, but it's really finding the right measures. So, for instance, we came up, it's a kind of joke inside, we call it "life in the wild" but, when we sell a jacket, how long is that jacket alive for, who does it path to, from person, to person, to person, before it gets recycled, and then eventually dies. And so, you know, having those kind of metrics that allow us to really push on the things that are important is hugely helpful and we would value that. Thank you.
Marcelo Bihar: Yeah, if I may, just saw a few ideas agreeing with everything that has been said. I think there is transparency, is the first one, so visibility to know exactly what's going on and holding, not only business, but also public sector accountable for moving the needle. And, I think, the second one that I would stress, really, would be that, I think Oxford can help a lot, and that's why, I think, we're engaging on many fronts and many discussions. Is the clear standards and metrics. So, I remember when I first read the Oxford principles for carbon emissions, offsetting principles, I think, the role of nature is still unclear inside it, and, I think there is a better, we have to shape it up a little bit, to get a truly global perspective within that. So that's one, but as Cécile said, the agenda on biodiversity is in its infancy. So, we should start placing some metrics for biodiversity. I was last week discussing with Johann Rockstrom from Planet Boundaries, he agrees that we should have a global number, and I think aligning Planet Boundaries with um academia and the NGOs, I think, would be tremendous for us to, not only understand where we are, but building a path that companies would, not only the pioneering companies, but every company, could aim for and could say, well in order to get from where we are now and to regenerate an area, a biome, a certain region, it will take this amount of resources, and we will create this amount of nature. Then, you have clarity then it's clear, then everyone knows where they're heading to, so those metrics are not in place yet. So, once they're established, I think things will smoothly move on, so, that's my perspective.
Puninda Thind: Thank you so much. Does anyone else want to chime in on the question? Go ahead, Cécile.
Cécile Girardin: I, just to follow up, Yeah wholeheartedly agree with everything that's been said so far, and this need for honesty and transparency, of course, and to achieve this, also, providing the tools that we need to achieve this, so improve the methodologies we have, consensus, global consensus on the methodologies, because at the moment, it seems like a lot of men, there are a lot of groups working on these methodologies and not necessarily communicating with each other clearly enough. So, an agreement from the science and the organisations working on methodologies, on the consensus, on standardisation around this. But also we need more nature-based solutions that can be scaled And fast, because all the figures I've mentioned so far, they rely on us implementing nature-based solutions globally, at scale, now. So we really, and we don't have that yet. And there are, there are, notwithstanding the doubts or the uncertainties, we have on the science around, now this, there are practices that we know, are, address all the benefits that we need, I mean, agroforestry, watershed restoration, improving soil management, all this we know, we don't need more science, and we can already implement at scale. So, it's a matter of just being the lead and taking it, and going for it, in the, in, for businesses. And then, again, protecting the definition of nature-based solutions, of regenerative business, so that they're not, hijacked, and corrupted and taken as an excuse to continue fossil fuel emissions. And invest in projects that don't necessarily, that don't necessarily address all the definitions and requirements. We have clear, clear guidelines and clear methodologies set out by the IUCN for example. So the information is there, there is no excuse.
Charmian Love: Thank you, I mean, what an extraordinary group of people to be in this incredible conversation with, with such great honesty. With the wisdom of your experience and the openness to, learning, and picking up insight and experiences from others. Unfortunately, we are reaching very rapidly in the end of our time together and what has become also very transparently clear, in in this hour together, is how much more there is to explore together. So, I just want to take a moment to thank all of you for giving up some really precious time on a Monday to be in what feels like the first step of a conversation, the first step of a journey, that I hope we can continue to be on together. As you'll see in the agenda, you know, we were gonna do a reflection round a little bit, as part of this conversation but actually, I think there has been so much that's been shared that, what I'd like to propose we do, is amongst the four hosts, Puninda, Alexis, Caitlin and myself, we are going to take this conversation. And what we commit to doing is, sending you a few headlines of our reflections of this conversation for your feedback. We'll also be sending you the playlist of, so you've got some music to groove to, and hopefully use to remember this conversation. And we promise we will be in touch very soon with, sort of a more sort of detailed set again of reflections, and next steps. But, as we hit 12 noon here in the UK, we want to absolutely respect and value your time. So thank you all. We're going to keep the Zoom room open for a couple of minutes, If people want to hang out a little bit afterwards, but of course, I know many of you will have hard stops to go on, so we will wave you off goodbye, and my final, just giant deep sense of thanks, is to, of course, Caitlin, Puninda and Alexis, who have really been the engines of putting together both this event today, but also the overall scope of what we hope, will be a really important contribution to the conversation around regenerative business. So, thank you all, have a wonderful Monday and we'll be in touch soon.
Future of plastics
Our goal is a future where plastics are fully recyclable but ultimately degradable, so reducing environmental damage and pollution without losing the benefits that plastics provide.
We are helping to develop new materials, and investigate chemical recycling which breaks down plastics to their base ingredients for re-use in multiple ways. In the long term, our aim is to develop packaging that is both recyclable and biodegradable.