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Cross-Sector Sustainability Project Revealed



BSR and Forum for the Future have joined forces to launch the Net Positive Project. The project, which was announced at the Sustainable Brands conference on Tuesday 7 June, aims to increase the number of companies contributing to society, environment and global economy in a “net positive” way through reducing their negative sustainability imapacts. The Net Positive Project will offer tools and practices to companies to help them measure the positive effect they’re having.

BSR and Forum for the Future are collaborating on the Net Positive Project with Gregory A. Norris, who co-directs the Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise (SHINE), based at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

BSR Senior Vice President, Eric Olson, said: “With the recent adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the need for net positive approaches is more urgent than ever. “Business has a clear mandate to create sustainable technologies, products, and services that can help the world meet these goals.”

While the momentum around net positive is growing, there are currently no commonly accepted ways for companies to measure and report on net positive claims, and there’s a risk that companies will invest in redundant, fragmented, or misaligned approaches.

The Net Positive Project will fill that gap by developing practices and tools companies can use to quantify, assess, communicate, and enhance their positive impacts on society and the environment.

Gregory Norris, from SHINE, said: “The Net Positive Project will provide guidance to companies in continually reducing their negative impacts or footprints, and it will give them support and direction in taking a restorative, generative path that intentionally grows the positive impacts or handprints that they create. It will also advance the movement as a whole by providing an approach that is fact-based, transparent, and collaborative.”

During its first year, the Net Positive Project will focus on three main initiatives:

  • Net Positive Principles: Expand, refine, and agree on defining principles and a theory of change for net positive.
  • Net Positive Methodology: Build on existing work to advance a framework on how to scope, measure, and communicate net positive outcomes.
  • Case Study Methodology: Advance a standardized approach for companies to develop case studies describing how products and services contribute to social and environmental progress.

Forum for the Future CEO, Sally Uren, said: “The Net Positive Project will create a race to the top by increasing companies’ sustainability ambition to have a positive impact on society and the environment. It will also help companies enhance their approach to innovation and strategy, brand and reputation, and relationships with stakeholders, while it increases sales and financial success.”

Founding company members of the Net Positive Project are: Advanced Micro Devices Inc., AT&T, Capgemini UK Plc., The Crown Estate, Dell Inc., Dow Chemical Company, Eaton Corporation Plc., Fetzer Vineyards, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, Humanscale, Kimberly-Clark, Kingfisher Plc., Kohler Co., and Owens Corning.

Charlene Lake, Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Chief Sustainability Officer, AT&T: “Our strategic platform, Connect to Good, represents our company’s vision of using the power of our network to build a better tomorrow. For example, we know that our technology can help customers reduce their carbon footprint. That’s why we’ve set a goal to enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of our operations by 2025 by enhancing the efficiency of our network and delivering sustainable customer solutions. We’ll be working with the Net Positive Project and others to measure and meet this goal.”

John Pflueger, Principal Environmental Strategist at Dell said: “By combining their efforts to create the Net Positive Project, these organizations are creating a collaborative that will promote restorative efforts. We look forward to working with them and our peers to develop net positive into a meaningful and credible movement that drives social and environmental good.”

Carl Eckersley, Social and Environmental Responsibility Director at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, said: “Solving the world’s toughest environmental challenges requires solutions that contribute more value than they consume in resources. Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s technology innovations enable many of these solutions, and we are excited to partner with other thought leaders to identify new opportunities that accelerate efficiency.”

Lisa Morden, Senior Director, Global Sustainability at Kimberly-Clark, said: “At Kimberly-Clark, we are continuously using the lens of sustainability to further our vision to deliver essentials for a better life. We see net positive as a way to do this, achieving business growth while having a positive and impactful role in the world. The Net Positive Project provides a collaborative means to fully understand, shape, and agree on what it means to be net positive.”

The Net Positive Project integrates insights from ongoing efforts, including:

  • The Net Positive Group, convened by Forum for the Future, WWF, and The Climate Group, developed a set of 12 net positive principles and guidance on how to measure and communicate the concept.
  • BSR’s Center for Technology and Sustainability, a cross-sector initiative that brings together the users and developers of technology to jointly study sustainability impacts and scale solutions.
  • Greg Norris’s experience with Harvard’s SHINE initiative, which works collaboratively with members to advance methods for net positive assessment based on life-cycle assessments and hand-printing, integrating impacts related to the environment, health, society, and well-being.

Forum for the Future CEO Sally Uren spoke about “The Evolution of Net Positive Strategies” at the Sustainable Brands conference from 5-5:15pm on Tuesday 7 June 2016. To learn more, visit the Net Positive Project website.