“Who’s investing in a mangrove forest? Who’s investing in that farming community in East Africa or Sri Lanka? We know how to make this work, we know how to put these systems in place, but what we need are some leaders to step forward and take up this challenge.”
Dr Robert S. Kaplan, Palladium Thought Leader and co-creator of the Balanced Scorecard, offered a clear challenge to the attendees of the recent World Government Summit in Dubai as he asked who among them would step up and invest in the projects that are not only good for society but also good for nature. His presentation “The Path to Sustainable and Inclusive Growth” was part of the three-day conference with the theme of “Shaping Future Governments,” which brought together global thought leaders, experts, and decision makers to contribute to the tools, policies, and models shaping future governments.
According to Abdullah Alnabhan, Palladium Regional Director, this is particularly critical in the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East. “Many countries in the region have announced net-zero commitments and have been working on action plans that aim to fulfil their climate-related commitments.”
“In addition to cutting emissions, the region is increasingly looking to nature-based solutions as part of overall efforts on climate action given their impact on climate change, mitigation, adaptation, preservation of biodiversity and their feasibility especially through an inclusive multi-stakeholder approach,” Alnabhan adds.
Dr Kaplan’s presentation broke down both the Environment and Social of ESG, as well as his latest thoughts on his e-liabilities system for companies tracking emissions across their supply chains. It’s simple, he says: it’s about following the Hippocratic Oath for corporate behaviour. “Let’s stop doing bad things that are harmful to our employees, that are harmful to our communities, and that are harmful to our society.”
Easier said than done.
One problem, as always, is with measurement and tracking, especially of emissions, but that’s where the e-liabilities system comes into play. According to Dr Kaplan, the current systems for tracking emissions across supply chains aren’t adequate and most importantly, don’t take into account duplication. But when it’s done right, organisations have the opportunity improve both their operations and those suppliers within their ecosystem.
“Corporations have the potential for doing tremendous good, and the income and growth that we’ve seen over the last 200 years is the result of global capitalism enabling corporations to do the magic of wealth creation,” he explains. “But we have to do more and now there’s the opportunity for companies to take on the issues of inequality and poverty.”
Sustainability, future of societies, and accelerating development were key themes at the Summit explains Alnabhan. “The UAE is gearing up to host COP28 at the end of the year and naturally, economic, social, and governance topics generated a lot of interest at the Summit, which included Dr Kaplan’s research on the e-liability accounting method.”
In his presentation, Kaplan focuses on mangroves, a widespread and useful crop in the region, but one that has been degraded in recent years. Alnabhan points out that it’s one of many examples of nature-based solutions targeting the coasts and restoration of natural habitats in the region. “There is opportunity to scale up those initiatives and adopt a broader ecosystems approach in ways that can benefit societies and improve wellbeing while also providing biodiversity benefits.”
The beauty of inclusive growth programs like those focused on mangroves, says Dr Kaplan, is that it’s a ‘win win’ for everyone. “In his presentation, Dr Kaplan proposed a strategic roadmap for implementing nature-based solutions,” adds Alnabhan. “In this case, mangroves, which offer economic, social, and environmental outcomes to various stakeholder groups based on sustainable and innovative business models and inclusive value chains, that help to improve livelihoods while at the same time absorbing carbon from the atmosphere.”
Decarbonising supply chains and operations is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s necessary in the race to a net zero economy and doing so requires the right measurement tools. With those in place, says Dr Kaplan, corporations can begin greening their operations and rolling out inclusive growth programs that benefit more than just shareholders.