Businesses, governments and investors are now starting to recognise the dangers of a warming climate. But there is another, interrelated crisis looming that is every bit as important to the economy - as well as representing an existential threat to humans. Scientists — such as the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) — are warning us that we have entered a ‘sixth mass extinction.'
As a result, a leading independent conservation organisation, WWF, set about to raise awareness of the importance of wildlife and nature in providing a stable and benign planet for humans, launching an incredible eight-part documentary series — Our Planet — via Netflix in April 2019. Produced by Silverback Films, using state-of-the-art technology, and narrated by British natural historian Sir David Attenborough, this has been Netflix’s most successful documentary series, reaching over 25 million homes in just the first month.
WWF aims to reach 1 billion people with the message that biodiversity is the key to human survival and the stability of our world as we know it. Why now? In 2020, there are unique opportunities to set new 10-year targets to reverse the loss of nature and WWF is urging world leaders to come together and agree a ‘New Deal for Nature and People’.
But what of business? Clearly the private sector has an important role to play. A sustainable economy requires innovation and transformation at an unprecedented scale and speed. But awareness about nature loss within the corporate world has not kept pace with the concern about climate change. A new film, inspired by the original Our Planet series and called Our Planet: Our Business sets out to change that. In just under 40 minutes it demonstrates why protecting the natural world is a business imperative.
PwC's purpose is to ‘build trust in society and solve important problems’ so working with WWF to shine a light on the ecological crisis which will impact all of our clients was a natural fit.
“What we do in the next 10 years will affect the next thousand.”
“The team at PwC has been championing this film since its inception, realising early on how important it is for business engagement on nature loss, alongside climate.”
“Our Planet: Our Business is a clarion call for all businesses to come together and create a world where nature and business thrive, for the greater good of society as a whole.”
To raise awareness of the plight of nature, we hosted screenings, both with our people and other important contacts. We kicked off with three ‘follow-the-sun’ lunchtime webcasts — one in each region of the world — Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and the Americas. Each webcast was open to any PwC member of staff from anywhere in the world and was hosted by our Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility teams in that region.
Each session included an introduction to the film, a screening and a panel Q&A session with PwC experts and a representative from WWF, providing our people with the opportunity to have a conversation about the topics raised and the possible solutions. We talked about how natural capital solutions, better climate governance and emerging technologies could all play a positive part. We then encouraged our people to make #MyPledgeForOurPlanet — committing to personal action to help alleviate the pressures on the natural world we all rely on.
Over the following days and weeks, many territories also held local events. Through these, we were able to bring together the business community and public sector, and start to explore how we can collectively tackle the ecological crisis.
At PwC UK, awareness and behaviour change have been central to our sustainability programme for over a decade. But screening Our Planet: Our Business is our most popular programme to date.
Over 1,600 people tuned in to listen to one of the webcasts from 34 territories around the world, spanning from New Zealand to Japan and China, from South Africa to Lithuania and Finland, and from Chile to Canada. Many additional local live events were oversubscribed and feedback was universally positive with our people telling us the film was ‘amazing’ and ‘extraordinary’, and praising us for showing our commitment to the environmental agenda in this way.
A follow-up survey revealed that 98% of people attending the event felt that it was important for the firm to be screening films like Our Planet: Our Business. 96% said they were inspired to take action in their personal lives to help solve the issues in the film, 81% said they were likely to talk to clients about it, and 100% felt that business should set strategies to tackle the issues presented.
As you might expect, our people asked questions about PwC’s own performance regarding deforestation, sustainably managed forests, plant-based diets, and clean energy so we shared our approaches and achievements with them. In particular, we used Our Planet: Our Business as a platform to share our global commitment to carbon neutrality. We also discussed how we are using our skills and knowledge to support clients and markets to make the required transition to a low carbon and circular economy.
In the coming months, we’ll continue to contribute to the debate about how business can accelerate the transformation needed to save our planet.
Watch Our Planet: Our Business now at ourplanet.com/business.
“Our Planet: Our Business presents a clear case for business to tackle the looming climate and ecological crisis - and in doing so help secure the future of business itself.”
Chief Sustainability Officer, PwC United Kingdom