According to a recent publication by HSBC, the world spent its entire natural resources budget for 2018, by 1 August. In 1970, these resources – as calculated by the Global Footprint Network on the basis of demand for natural resources and carbon emissions – lasted until 29 December. By the early 1980s, they were consumed by November, in the 1990s by September and, within a decade, by August.
The multiple and severe impacts of overconsumption
The impacts of this unprecedented consumption of natural resources are multiple and severe. They include a failure to support ecosystems, lack of freshwater, clean air and soil, and, most importantly, climate change.
Climate change makes extreme weather events, like wildfires and heatwaves, more likely to occur and more severe, and these events have significant economic, human and social consequences.
According to HSBC, adaptation to climate change will become increasingly important, focusing mostly on its social consequences. In addition, as these extreme weather events show, many governments and businesses around the globe are not sufficiently prepared to face climate impacts, and are not making efficient use of natural resources.
As a consequence, investors are pressed to incorporate environmental, social and governance issues and policies into investment decisions, and businesses will be under increasing pressure to become more sustainable Tweet This! and to develop and disclose their related strategies.
Note by the Editor:
The questions businesses and governments should be asking are:
- Have we identified our most important impacts (materiality) on the environment, the economy and society?
- Are we addressing our direct and indirect impacts?
- Are we taking action in a responsible way?
Once we identify our most important impacts we should measure, manage and change. We should reduce our negative impacts and increase our positive impacts, both direct and indirect. For example, it is not enough for a large e-commerce company to just deal with the emissions it is directly responsible for (e.g. a few company cars). If it heavily relies on external courier services for delivery of orders, how is it dealing with their impacts? Is this company using, for instance, GRI Standard 308 Supplier Environmental Assessment in combination with GRI 305 Emissions to assess and choose the right suppliers?
80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards
SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.
Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.
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This article is based on published information by HSBC. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the publication’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original please revert to the following link: