Sustainability is becoming more important to businesses, with regeneration being a growing topic. Regeneration involves restoring ecosystems to their natural state through practices like reforestation, marine protection, coral restoration etc. These practices among others have the potential to make the most positive impact on the planet.
However, there is a misconception that positive impact projects should be limited to a firm’s country of operations. We aim to debunk this notion and provide two reasons why this is not the right path.
First, the planet operates within bioregions, not political boundaries. Therefore, localizing impact to a bioregion is a more effective method of evaluating geography for environmental impact.
Second, spreading impact beyond national boundaries helps companies in the global north to maximize their impact by investing in projects in the global south. This results in a north-south wealth transfer that benefits both the environment and society.
If you’re a business looking to grow your handprint, read on to learn why localizing your impact to national boundaries can be limiting.
Why Bioregions Matter More Than Borders
Political boundaries are often arbitrary because they do not usually align with natural ecosystems. This makes bioregionalism necessary. Bioregionalism is an alternative approach to rethinking our planet’s regions to recognize the unique ecology of each area.
A bioregion is a geographic area that is defined by its natural features, including climate, geology, topography, plant and animal life. It is a piece of geography whose boundaries are determined by the natural environment, not politics.
To identify the bioregion you are in, it is important to consult local experts. However, you can start by looking at the natural features of the area. What kinds of plants and animals are common? What is the climate like? Is the area characterized by mountains, rivers, or other distinctive physical features? By answering these questions, you can begin to understand the unique characteristics of your bioregion.
Focusing on bioregions instead of national borders can be more effective for making an impact.
For example, investing in reforestation in a bioregion can help to restore biodiversity, mitigate climate change, and protect against natural disasters like floods and landslides. At the same time, this investment can provide economic opportunities for local communities. We can create solutions that work for the people by tapping into the uniqueness of each bioregion.
A company that has successfully localized positive impact to a bioregion is Patagonia. Patagonia’s restoration of Yvon Chouinard Park in Chile is mutually beneficial as the project conserves the environment, promotes sustainable tourism and supports local economies. Furthermore, the investment has solidified Patagonia’s brand reputation as a socially and environmentally responsible company.
The Downside of Localizing Impact on the Global North
Making a positive impact in the global south can have significant benefits in terms of sustainability and regeneration. This is because such initiatives can lead to a north-south wealth transfer, which can reduce inequality and poverty. In contrast, focusing solely on positive impact in a company’s country of operations may have limited impact since companies in developed countries already operate in prosperous areas.
Companies focusing on creating a north-south wealth transfer help to reduce the gap between developed and developing countries. This is important because poverty and inequality often lead to social and environmental problems. By investing in renewable energy projects in developing countries, companies can create jobs, reduce poverty, and mitigate climate change. Such investments can also help build resilient communities that are better equipped to withstand the impacts of climate change.
However, companies need to ensure that their positive impact initiatives do not cause harm. For example, investing in large-scale infrastructure projects without considering the social and environmental impacts can lead to displacement, deforestation, and other negative consequences. Therefore, companies must engage with local communities and stakeholders to ensure that their initiatives are sustainable and equitable.
One successful example of a company that has made a positive impact in the global south is the M-KOPA Solar project in Kenya. This project provides affordable solar energy to low-income households, reducing their reliance on fossil fuels and improving their quality of life. So far, the project has created jobs and economic opportunities in the region while also reducing carbon emissions.
Businesses that prioritize regeneration should consider the benefits of focusing on bioregions instead of national borders. Bioregionalism is a useful framework for thinking about our planet’s regions in a way that recognizes their unique ecological characteristics. By identifying and focusing on bioregions, we can create a positive impact that is tailored to specific environmental and social challenges. Investing in local ecosystems helps to create a more sustainable future for both people and the planet.
It is important for companies that aim to make a positive impact to consider the benefits of investing in projects in the global south. This approach can create a north-south wealth transfer that reduces inequality and poverty, while also mitigating climate change. However, companies need to engage with local communities and stakeholders to ensure that their initiatives are sustainable and equitable.
It is time for companies to take action and invest in the regeneration of our planet for the benefit of all. The first step is to toss away all the maps and embrace bioregionalism. Not sure of where to begin? Start calculating your regenerative target contact us for a consultation.