Is Innovation the Secret to Adapting to the Regenerative Future?

In spite of the focus on sustainable business practices, the planet is pushed beyond all limits. The climate crisis continues to loom large, and resources are getting scarcer. It’s no longer considered enough to practise sustainability, which is a passive form of mitigating the harm caused to the planet. With climate change posing a massive threat to livelihoods, water supply, food production and energy security, businesses need to reinvent business practices. While sustainable businesses seek to reduce their carbon and ecological footprint, regenerative businesses take proactive measures to increase their socio-ecological commitment to restore and build the planet.

The regenerative approach to business

Regenerative businesses are those that move their business philosophy from “doing less harm” to “doing better”. The business works with nature, rather than against it or taking from it, and thinks “glocal”. There is focused intent to consider regional needs, and to protect, restore and replenish both natural and human resources. In doing so, companies can expect to revive their commitment to the planet, while improving their financial performance and their brand image.

To become a regenerative business, companies need to go back to the drawing board and make radical changes to their business strategies and operations. Disruptive innovation will enable companies to go beyond embedding sustainability into their business practices. For example, the Cape Town drought in South Africa led to the government specifying a limited supply of 50 litres of water per person per day, which may be a sustainable level, but lead to a poor quality of life for citizens. Procter & Gamble (P&G), a global leader in consumer products, many of which need water when they are used, launched the 50L Home Coalition project, which focuses on improving the quality of life while reducing the average consumption of water in households. Their research includes invention of new products that use less water, reduce water, or eliminate the usage of water. This is enabled by working closely with public and private agencies, citizens, and by using waterless technology.

Innovation can accelerate the regenerative economy

Crises give impetus to change. Often, to develop disruptive solutions, businesses need to look at the problem from ground-up, while at the same time keeping business goals and profitability in mind. They need to look at the complete value-chain, and involve all stakeholders, which leads to new ways of thinking. For instance, Alliance to End Plastic Waste is a global not-for-profit coalition of companies that brings together world-class expertise and reaches across the entire plastic value chain, while collaborating with governments, NGOs, communities, and academics to reduce the plastic waste problem. They have partnered with Plug and Play Tech Centre to set up the End Plastic Waste Innovation Platform, which has attracted 3000 start-ups across six hubs around the globe.

Working with regulatory authorities and adhering to compliance laws requires companies to develop innovative solutions leading to a more sustainable world that makes optimum usage of resources and gives more to the environment. Companies can either use existing products or services or develop completely new products for these solutions. With low-carbon growth projected to deliver economic benefits of up to USD $26 trillion and 65 million new jobs by 2030, companies have every reason to exploit technology platforms, set up new infrastructure and remodel businesses to move towards a regenerative economy.

To be a part of the new growth economy, businesses need to proactively identify the risks and opportunities, and understand the impact on the industry and the future of the company. Current estimates indicate that investments in eco-friendly technologies will rise significantly in the coming decade. Investors are backing the transition to technology that uses green and clean fuels. This puts pressure on the fossil fuel industry, where many players are reinventing themselves to explore renewable energy sources. Organisations need to act on these risks and threats, and see them as growth opportunities, either by undergoing agile business transformation*, or adopting new business models. Partnering with other businesses in the ecosystem can help companies quickly develop capabilities and accelerate innovation in the industry.

A regenerative economy is necessary for the health, safety and security of individuals, communities, businesses, and the planet. Adapting to the new economy with transformative business models and disruptive innovations is an imperative that few businesses can ignore.

*For organizations on the digital transformation journey, agility is key in responding to a rapidly changing technology and business landscape. Now more than ever, it is crucial to deliver and exceed on organizational expectations with a robust digital mindset backed by innovation. Enabling businesses to sense, learn, respond, and evolve like a living organism, will be imperative for business excellence going forward. A comprehensive, yet modular suite of services is doing exactly that. Equipping organizations with intuitive decision-making automatically at scale, actionable insights based on real-time solutions, anytime/anywhere experience, and in-depth data visibility across functions leading to hyper-productivity, Live Enterprise is building connected organizations that are innovating collaboratively for the future.

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