Building the knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society
Climate change is a global challenge, affecting every aspect of our lives, including our approach to work and the economy. As individuals and businesses, we all need to play our part to reduce environmental impacts, and the concept of green economy and businesses is empowering locals of county Durham to take action.
In February we are covering the Climate Emergency Response 2 plans theme of Business, Green Economy and Skills. This chapter focuses on developing knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes that are important for thriving and advancing in a sustainable and efficient society. This week we are covering business and economy but keep an eye out for our next article all about green skills and how you can grow and adapt to today’s fast paced changing world.
What is a green economy?
Master Class defines a green economy as ‘an economy in which all stakeholders—from investors to business owners to consumers—prioritise environmental stability as highly as economic growth.’ In this, growth in employment and income are directed by investments into economic activities, infrastructure and assets that reduce carbon emissions, enhance energy efficiency, and prevent loss of ecosystems and biodiversity.
According to The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), The key areas of focus include advocating for sustainable economic growth, demonstrating green economy approaches, and supporting countries in transitioning to a green economy. You can read more about it by visiting the UNEPs page on Green Economy.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) states that the green economy transition is necessary to mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure a more equitable distribution of resources globally.
In short, green economy is the type of economy that is defined by low carbon practices and processes all the while reducing the impact on the environment and ecology. Its all about sustainable development without degrading the environment.
What are the benefits of a green economy?
- Green economy encourages sustainable developments: to achieve sustainability, businesses must find use for natural resources, this comes down to building materials and energy efficiency throughout buildings. In turn, this reduces emissions and results in money savings.
- Fighting climate change: by turning to a green path in the economy, everyone is working together to reduce the effects of climate change.
- Improving our ecosystem: encouraging sustainable developments and environmental protection results in the protection of surrounding wildlife and ecosystems. In turn, this helps our natural and developing world work hand in hand together.
- Promoting equity: Green finance and development prioritise fair global outcomes. Green economists insist that industrial countries should lead the shift to greener technologies, allowing for a simultaneous focus on poverty eradication alongside environmental efforts.
A green business is one part of the green economy, it is defined as a business that aims to operate in a sustainable and eco-friendly way to balance the needs of the planet, people and its profits.
There are many defining characteristics of green sustainable businesses. For example, a green business incorporates various practices to prioritise sustainability, it minimises waste and pollution by efficiently using resources and practising energy efficiency. Additionally, a green business embraces renewable energy sources where possible, examples of this being solar panels, wind, geothermal or hydropower, decreasing their reliance on fossil fuels. Social responsibility is a key focus, with the business contributing positively to society through actions like charitable donations, volunteerism, and support for social initiatives aligned with its values. These businesses are also transparent with their work, they communicate openly about its environmental and social impacts.
Becoming an environmentally friendly business
Businesses who want to become a green business can take the steps and improve their environmental impact. Here are a few things you can do to begin with:
- Conducting Environmental Impact Assessments: find opportunities to reduce your resource demand and minimise waste through environmental impact assessments.
- Sourcing Responsibly: Choose environmentally responsible suppliers for materials and products.
- Supporting Environmental Causes: Contribute to environmental initiatives through partnerships with organisations dedicated to ecological and environmental conservation.
- Communicating Sustainability Commitment: Share information about climate change and local initiatives, as well as share progress in marketing materials to communicate a strong commitment to sustainability. This helps build transparency and trust with stakeholders.
- Promoting green education and skills with your staff. Upskill your staff to develop their knowledge of climate change and sustainable processes. This not only makes your business eco-friendlier but also motivates your team to stick around and grow with you.
The benefits of being a green business
There are many benefits to bringing out your green thumb in your business, stretching from financial to reputational benefits.
- Reduced Operating Costs: Conservation measures lead to reduced resource consumption, resulting in lower operating costs.
- Increased Efficiency: Implementing sustainable practices enhances operational efficiency, contributing to overall cost savings.
- Government Incentives: Governments often provide tax breaks and grants as incentives for businesses adopting sustainable practices.
- Improved Reputation: Green businesses garner a positive reputation among customers, investors, and stakeholders.
- Increased Customer Loyalty: Consumers favour environmentally friendly products and services, fostering loyalty to the business.
- Enhanced Employee Retention: A commitment to sustainability makes the company more attractive, contributing to higher employee retention rates.
- Environmental Protection: Green businesses actively contribute to environmental protection, aiding in building a more sustainable future.
Embracing a green economy and green business practices is vital in the fight against climate change and developing a more sustainable future. Transitioning to a green economy requires us all to unite and work together and we all must take steps to make a difference.
Utilising our BEEP (business energy efficiency project) is a great way to start your green journey in County Durham. Find out more by visiting our BEEP page and filling out our contact form.
Keep an eye out for our next article about green skills and how it can help you as an individual or a business owner.