News | 23rd July 2020

Is 2020 cancelled?

By Joanna Robertson

Did anyone else wake up to realise, with surprise, that it’s already July? At Future-Fit, we last gathered in person as a team way back in March, before working from home under the UK’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions. When it comes to holidays, meeting friends and family or organising events, making plans still feels very uncertain. For many, it feels tempting to dismiss 2020 as a bit of a write-off or wish the rest of the year away, trying to get it over with quickly.

But to do so would be to dismiss the impact of the highly significant events that have happened this year – and which happen every single day around our world.

The coronavirus pandemic, triggered by the effects of human encroachment on natural habitats, climate change and social inequality, has exposed gaps and discrepancies in healthcare, housing and job security. Meanwhile, the Black Lives Matter movement has sparked conversation about centuries of ongoing racism, the effects of which still shape our lives today. In the UK, increased attention on modern slavery in fast fashion supply chains has opened conversation around consumerism, affordability, fair pay and waste. Around the world, communities are battling wildfires, locust swarms, disease and corruption. And exponential global heating and the resulting impacts of climate change are still a crucial global issue.

At Future-Fit, we believe in the importance of public health, secure employment, equal opportunities and treatment, and environmental and societal flourishing. Our mission is to create a world that is environmentally restorative, socially just, and economically inclusive.

That’s why we’re not putting 2020 on hold. There is work to be done, and though the scale of the problem might seem overwhelming, we’re also seeing increased understanding that each of these problems cannot be solved in isolation – they require an interdependent, structural-level response.

We believe that businesses have a real opportunity to impact our global economic system, and in doing so transform society and the environment for the better. The graphic we use the most at Future-Fit illustrates this: a circle representing ‘business’ nested inside ‘society’ which in turn nests inside ‘environment’.

For too long, businesses have operated outside of their social and environmental contexts, taking what they need for profit but externalising negative impacts. Businesses must value the materials, labour and land that they use fairly, and in turn must be accountable for the impacts that their operations have on society and the environment.

If we want to see real change, we need to see businesses doing more than making a statement or a donation. It is through their actions that businesses impact society and the environment, and they have a choice to either increase or degrade the value of the system as a whole.

Future-Fit businesses are those which place the pursuit of system value at the core of their business model, striving to ensure that every decision and action that they make is environmentally restorative, socially just, and economically inclusive.

We know it’s a high bar to set, and in today’s globalised and interconnected economy, it is currently near impossible for any major business to reach the ‘break-even’ point, where it is not doing any harm to society or the environment.

But without a high bar, issues which impact people and planet will be sidelined, ignored or simply paid lip service to. Half-hearted targets won’t get us where we need to go. Our world needs change, and businesses can take a lead – not simply by making a statement, but by understanding and addressing their impacts, both positive and negative, and helping others to do the same.

The Future-Fit Business Benchmark is a free-to-use tool to help any company understand how its business affects and depends upon society and the environment. Our 23 Break-Even Goals cover energy, water, natural resources, pollution, waste, physical presence, people, and drivers. They provide a clear destination to aim for, and a way to guide better day-to-day decisions that do not undermine society’s progress toward future-fitness. They’ll also help you create a business that employees, customers, investors and partners want to engage with, as you create long-term value for business and society.

Are you ready to explore where your business is now, where you need to get to, and how to close the gap? Explore the Benchmark and become part of the Changemaker Community to connect with like-minded individuals, academics, consultants and business leaders who are working together to create a flourishing future for all.

Join us to make 2020 count for the future we need.

Joanna Robertson

Joanna is a communications professional with experience in using digital platforms to build community and conversation.